Bienenstich a.k.a Bee Sting Cake is a traditional German yeasted bake with a crunchy almond topping and sweet vanilla custard filling is well worth the effort!
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I used to be SUCH A HUGE FAN of the Great British Bake Off – in many ways I credit this show for pushing me to start this blog. The show inspired me to try unusual and complicated bakes that wouldn’t normally be on my radar.
Take traditional German Bienenstich a.k.a Bee Sting cake. Unlike most cakes, this is leavened with yeast instead of baking powder/soda.
The cake is topped with honeyed almonds and filled with rich vanilla custard – basically it’s heaven on a plate 🙂
I was lucky enough to receive some Le Creuset bakeware recently and I made good use of their springform tin (pictured, above) in this recipe.
It’s amazing what a difference a good quality cake pan makes – after using this I binned my old, warped, cake tins without a backwards glance.
Even though the topping is very sticky and it overflowed in the oven (make sure you bake this on a tray) it didn’t stick one bit and baked beautifully. Well worth investing in this range – or hinting heavily come Christmas time.
My Bienenstich ended up a bit of a monster – it was enormous! I worried it would be impossible to cut into without the custard oozing out, but it obliged by being perfectly neat and easy to slice. And it was delicious – the cake is not very sweet but the topping and custard make up for that. Overall this was a really spectacular cake.
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Bienenstich: Bee Sting Cake
For the cake
- 415 g | 3 1/3 cups plain flour
- 2 tsp instant yeast the type suitable for bread makers
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 120 ml | 1/2 cup whole milk
- 60 ml | 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 85 g | 6 tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 2 tbsp butter melted, to brush over cake
For the topping
- 85 g | 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 75 g | 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 100 g | 3.5oz flaked almonds
- Pinch sea salt
For the custard cream
- 375 ml | 1 1/2 cups | 12 fl oz whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean halved and scraped or 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 4 large egg yolks
- 100 g | 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cornflour cornstarch
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 180 ml | 6 1/4 fl oz cold double cream
- 100 g | 3.5oz icing sugar powdered sugar
- Spray an 8 inch non stick springform cake tin with cake release spray and line the bottom with baking paper.
- Put the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until just combined.
- Mix the eggs, honey, extract and milk together in a measuring jug.
- With the mixer running on low speed, add the egg mixture to the flour and mix until just combined. I found I need to add a lot more flour than the recipe specified. My advice would be to add 2/3 to begin with and gradually adding the rest until the dough has the right consistency.
- Start adding the butter and mix until incorporated. Keep mixing for 10 minutes or until the dough is shiny, elastic and passes the windowpane test.
- Cover the mixing bowl and let the dough rise until almost doubled – this can take up to 2 hours.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work top and knock it back gently. Shape it into a dish and transfer into the prepared tin.
- Brush the top with a little melted butter, cover, and let it rise for 45 minutes.
- While the dough is rising prepare the topping: put all the ingredients except the almonds into a small pot and bring to a simmer. Let it bubble away for five minutes, stirring frequently, until the colour turns a little darker (will still be pretty pale beige).
- Tip the almonds in and mix them in. Let the mixture cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 180C | 350F. Spread the almond topping over the cake – don’t worry it it looks a bit messy – it will melt in the oven.
- Place the cake tin on a heavy tray lined with baking paper – the topping will bubble over during baking. Bake for 35-45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean and the top feels firm and springy. Cool completely – I let mine cool overnight.
- Slice the cake in half or in three layers – mine was an impressive height so ended up slicing it into thirds.
- Whisk the sugar, corn flour and egg yolks together – either by hand or in the Magimix or stand mixer – until smooth.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk and vanilla scrapings until small bubbles appear along the edge of the pan.
- Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Pour back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 4 minutes until cream comes to a boil and thickens.
- Pour cream through a fine sieve into a bowl and stir in the butter. Cover with cling film, pressing it directly on the cream. Make a small hole to allow steam to escape and put in the fridge overnight or for at least 6 hours.
- The following day (or once custard is thoroughly chilled) whip the cold double cream with the icing sugar until you have firm peaks.
- Fold the whipped cream into the custard – only using enough to lighten the cream but be careful not to make too soft or it will ooze out of the cake. Keep chilled until needed.Pipe or spread a generous amount of custard over bottom layer and repeat with second. Best eaten soon after assembled.
Melanie Grace says
This was the most complicated thing I had baked in a long time but quite good. I decided I would knead the dough by hand, so I would be able to feel when it was ready and not overknead it. Dumb choice. I thought my arms were going to fall off before it passed the windowpane test. The filling and topping are absolutely divine. The cake was a bit dry on the first day eating it but still pretty tasty. Printing out the recipe would have made this much easier than scrolling during cooking. I only needed about half the whipped cream mixture for the filling. Making 2 wide strips of parchment to put under the parchment circle/base would help get the sticky cake out easier. I was not sure if I was supposed to let it cool in the pan or not but it seemed like the sticky syrup would glue it to the pan so I removed after about 10 minutes. I lost a chunk of alond topping as it sruck to the pan. Making a collar/strip of parchment that sticks up over the edge of the pan would be helpful if you need it to look perfect. Now that I have an idea how to make it, I will make it again for my coworkers next week.
What is the right consistency for the dough as you add the extra flour?
Lucy Parissi says
Hi Paul, the dough should be elastic and not too sticky or loose. The flour rates of rates of absorption vary depending on flour type and even the moisture in the air. So add a little as you go on
Hello, I am making this cake tomorrow and was curious about two things – I read before that it may be difficult to slice after assembling, so pre-slicing was recommended – do you think so? And also, I was wondering if there was a way to only have honey as the sweetener in the almond topping, instead of honey and sugar. The cake is for my friend who loves honey, so wanted to add as much as possible.
Lucy Parissi says
It has been a while since I made this but I remember it sliced really well (but make sure the filling is not runny). You could try drizzling with extra honey after it is baked?
Thank you for posting two type of measurements. I really appreciate it, since I won’t have to convert the European measures. The Bee Sting cake is my favorite. I can’t wait to bake this yummy cake.
Lucy Parissi says
No problem – as one European to another!
Mummy Mishaps says
wow !!!! just stunning x
That cake looks so amazing! Wow, so colossal! 🙂
Beautiful decoration and super yummy filling!
Ooooh Lucy that looks fab! As Mary would say – thats a good bake! xxx
Kat BakingExplorer says
Wow this cake looks beautiful! Big and bold on the outside but looks lovely and light when sliced.
Kirsty Hijacked By Twins says
Ooooh that cake looks divine! All linked up x
Being German, I can tell you that this is perfection on a plate. It looks amazing and believe me, I've had my fair share of Bienenstich in my life 😉
Laura Denman says
As usual I can't believe how gorgeous your photos are! That cake looks perfect too – a couple of months ago I was thinking of making a Bee Sting Cake but got distracted by another recipe entirely. Now though, I'd rather just have a slice of yours =)
Lucy Parissi says
Thanks Laura. I have wanted to bake this for ages. I didn't know what to expect but it was really lovely. A bit like Panettone – quite different to a cake. The pastry cream was very good too – I think the brown sugar made all the difference.