Bee sting cake is a German cake also known as Bienenstich. You can read more about its legendary origins here. I first had bee sting cake in Adelaide, Australia. My dear friend brought me to the German town in Adelaide and we ate bee sting cake. I remember the luscious custard filling, crisp top and soft yeasted cake. It was delicious. My mom loved it as well.
I haven’t seen bee sting cake anywhere else since. I came across this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s website some time ago but didn’t have an opportunity to try it out till now. Maybe it’s because my butter wasn’t at room temperature or soft enough, but I felt my yeasted batter was not poufy enough. Overall, the cake baked up well but not as light and fluffy as I would like it to be. As such, I didn’t enjoy it as much. My friends enjoyed it though, especially the crisp honey-almond topping.
The recipe is time consuming because of the rising times, but very doable. I am glad I tried it out and came out with some success.
Bee Sting Cake
(taken and adapted from Smitten Kitchen; click here for recipe)
For the cake:
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 1/4-ounce package) instant yeast (not active dry)
- 3/4 cup whole milk, ideally at room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
- 2 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Honey-Almond-Crunch Topping:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups (4 3/4 ounces) sliced almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
For the Pastry Cream Filling:
- 1 cup whole milk
- Seeds from 1/4 to 1/2 vanilla bean, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch (Smitten Kitchen recommends cornstarch)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine
- To make the cake: Combine all of the cake ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, stirring till the mixture becomes cohesive, then stirring for two minutes more. In a stand mixer, you can mix this with the paddle attachment at low-medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place for 60 minutes, till it’s a little puffy.
- Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Stir the batter a few times to deflate it slightly, then scrape it into the prepared pan and nudge it until it fills the bottom. Cover again with plastic wrap tightly (don’t let it drape in and touch the top) and set aside for another 30 minutes.
- To make the honey-almond-crunch topping: In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter, sugar, honey, cream and salt until the butter is melted. Bring to a simmer and let it boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes a shade darker (it should go from a yellowish tone to a light beige), stirring frequently. Stir in the almonds. Mixture will be thick. Set it aside to cool slightly.
- Heat your oven to 350ºF.
- Once the cake has finished its second rise (it won’t rise a lot), use a small spoon to scoop out small amounts of the almond topping and distribute it over the top of the cake.
- Bake cake on a foil-lined tray to catch any caramel drips, for 20 to 25 minutes, until top is bronzed and toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free. Transfer to a cooling rack and let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, run a knife along the outside of the cake, making sure no places are stuck and invert the cake onto the cooling rack.Reverse it back onto another rack to finish cooling, replacing any almonds that fell off right back on top.
- To make the pastry cream: Warm milk and vanilla bean scrapings (if using; if using an extract, don’t add it in yet) in a medium saucepan. Pour into a small bowl or cup, ideally with a spout. Set aside. Rinse saucepan with cool water, to rinse and cool; wipe to dry.
- Off the heat, whisk the yolks and sugar vigorously together for a minute, until pale and ribbony. Whisk in flour and salt until smooth. Drizzle in warm milk mixture, a spoonful at a time, whisking the whole time. Once you’ve added half of it, you can add the rest in a more steady stream, again whisking the whole time.
- Return the saucepan to the stove and cook on medium-high heat until it bubbles, then simmer for one to two minutes, whisking the whole time. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and any extracts you may be using. Cool custard completely before using, a process that can be sped up in the fridge or whisking it over a bowl of ice water.
- To assemble the cake: Once both the cake and pastry cream are fully cooled, place the cake on a serving platter and divide it horizontally into two layers with a long serrated knife. Spread pastry cream over bottom half. Place top half on pastry cream. Serve in wedges. Refrigerate any leftovers.