This recipe for German bee sting cake (bienenstich) has it all. Crunchy honey and almond topping, with a deliciously creamy creme patissiere filling, sandwiched between layers of soft spongy yeast cake. And best of all, it's so easy to make. Try it for yourself - you won't be disappointed!
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German bee sting cake (bienenstich)
My parents emigrated to South Africa from England back in the early 60s, when there was a call for qualified engineers to work in the growing engineering industry over there. The town we lived in was very cosmopolitan, due to the large number of immigrants from all over Europe.
One enterprising German family set up a delicatessen, selling delicious German food, which was so different to the other shops around town. I used to go with my Dad (who was born in Germany) on a Saturday morning to pick up our weekly shop. Crusty German bread rolls, and tubs of meat salad for Saturday lunch, sauerkraut and pickled herrings (for my Dad!), and crispy Eisbein or juicy wiener schnitzels for supper.
We'd never come away without buying a cake - black forest gateau, on which I have loosely based my black forest trifle or my favourite, the traditional German bee sting cake (bienenstich). My Dad always told me that the bee sting cake got its name when a swarm of bees was attracted by the honey as the cake was being made, and the unfortunate baker got stung.
What is a bee sting cake?
A German bee sting cake is made with a yeast-based batter, topped with a crunchy honey/almond praline and filled with the sweetest, most delicious creme patissiere filling. The texture of the cake is quite dense, more like a doughnut than an actual cake. And the cake itself is not very sweet. However, this is more than made up for by the sweetness of the topping and the creme patissiere filling.
I've been experimenting with making my own German bee sting cake, and it's now at the stage where I feel confident enough with the recipe to share it with you. It's quite an easy recipe to make. Even though the cake contains yeast, there's no kneading involved - it's just mix and bake. You do need to allow quite a lot of time for the dough to rise and proof though - 3 hours in total - so I normally start this cake off in the morning.
If you are looking for a slightly different cake to surprise your family with, why not give this bee sting cake a try? You won't be disappointed.
How to make a German Bee Sting cake
You can get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making this German bee sting cake on the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
There are three components to this cake - the topping, the creme patissiere filling and the cake itself. Let's take them each in turn.
For the topping, you will need butter, sugar, honey, double (or whipping) cream and some flaked almonds.
It's very simple to make, you just boil everything (except the almonds) together, let it cool slightly and then stir in the almonds.
When boiling the ingredients you don't want to over-boil otherwise the topping will harden too much and you will find it difficult to spread on top of the cake. Just boil for 3 minutes to give the syrup a head start. It will continue cooking once it has been put on the cake and this will finish off the hardening process.
The cake batter
For the batter, you will need flour, yeast, sugar, butter, eggs and milk.
The yeast is instant yeast that you can buy in packets, each containing 7g of granules. For my US readers, 7g of instant yeast is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon.
There is also not a lot of sugar in this cake, only ¼ of a cup. This is not a mistake in the recipe, it's not supposed to be too sweet.
Mixing the cake is a simple process, and if you have a stand mixer or even an electric hand whisk, it is even easier. If you don't have either of these, you can still mix the cake using a wooden spoon, but be prepared for quite a lot of beating.
Place all the dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a normal mixing bowl) then add the eggs and milk.
Using the paddle attachment beat the ingredients for about 3 minutes until they all come together in a soft thick batter, and the butter has been completely incorporated. If you don't have a stand mixer, just beat with a wooden spoon for as long as it takes 🙂 If you allow the butter to come to room temperature first, it will be much easier to incorporate.
The result will be a thick sticky dough.
Leave to rise
Cover the mixing bowl with a layer of cling film or plastic wrap and then cover with a clean towel and leave in a warm place for about 2 hours to rise. Note this dough does not double in size when rising, but it will rise.
Image 1 above shows the risen dough. You will see how spongy the dough has become if you draw a spoon across the top of the dough.
Now transfer the dough to a well-greased 9" springform cake pan. You can bake this in a square baking pan too if you prefer, but it will be more difficult to get the baked cake out of a square pan.
Using a metal spoon, spread the dough evenly in the cake pan. This dough has a mind of its own and it is quite difficult to spread evenly. It will also look as though there isn't enough dough to make a thick cake. Don't stress about this, the next step is to leave the dough covered as before in a warm place for another hour. During this time the dough will even itself out and rise to at least halfway up the pan. Once it bakes it will rise even higher filling the pan completely.
Add the topping
Once the dough has risen, cover it with the topping. Now this is quite a tricky step. The dough is very soft and if you just tip the almonds on they will sink through the dough to the bottom of the tin.
I have found that the easiest way to get the almonds on the batter is to take a few almonds in a spoon and scrape them carefully off the spoon onto the batter. Do this until the cake is completely covered.
Bake the bee sting cake in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for 25 minutes until a thin wooden skewer or a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out cleanly, with no batter on it.
Keep your eye on the cake. All ovens are different. Mine was completely cooked after 25 minutes. You may need to test for doneness one or two minutes before that.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling with the creme patissiere.
Note - the top of the baked cake may be slightly uneven. This is due to the topping that was added before baking. Also, some of the almonds may have sunk below the surface, but this just enhances the flavour of the cake.
To remove from the pan
To remove the bee sting cake from the pan, carefully release the lever on the side of the springform pan. Remove the ring part and then carefully use a spatula to help you move the cake from the base to a serving dish.
The creme patissiere
For this, you will need 3 egg yolks. You can use the white to make these delicious coconut meringue topped jam tarts. You will also need sugar, flour, cornflour or cornstarch, milk, vanilla extract and double or whipping cream.
Beat the egg yolks until they are pale yellow and frothy, then whisk in the flour and cornflour/cornstarch.
Bring the milk, sugar and vanilla extract to a boil and pour half of the milk into the egg and flour mixture. Whisk well to remove any lumps, then pour the egg back into the remaining milk. Keep stirring over a low heat until the mixture thickens. It should be very thick (see image 4 above).
Allow to cool then place into the refrigerator until well chilled.
Whip the cream until it thickens, then mix the cream into the cooled custard until well combined.
Assemble the cake
Take the cooled cake and carefully cut in half through the centre with a serrated knife.
Spread all the creme patissiere evenly across the bottom half of the cake, then replace the other half back on top.
Serve and enjoy!
Tip - to make the cake easier to slice, so that the filling does not squish out when you slice into the cake, cut the top layer into wedges before replacing it on top.
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Storing the cake
Bee sting cake is best eaten fresh.
Because of the cream in the filling, it should be stored in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.
After that, due to the yeast content, the cake will start to dry out.
Save for later
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If you enjoyed this cake, perhaps you'd like to try some of my other bakes.
- Pineapple coconut cake with crushed pineapple
- Quick mix chocolate cake tray bake
- Easy all in one apple cake
German Bee Sting Cake with a creamy creme patissiere filling
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 2 cups (280g) plain all purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons (7g) instant yeast
- ¼ cup (50g) sugar
- 2 ounce (60g) butter
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup (180ml) milk
- 3 large egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons (65g) sugar
- 1½ tablespoons (15g) flour
- 1½ tablespoons (12g) cornflour / cornstarch
- 1 cup (250ml) milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup double cream / whipping cream
Honey Almond Topping
- 4 tablespoons (2oz / 60g) butter
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ cup double cream / whipping cream
- 1 cup flaked almonds
- Place all the ingredients for the topping, with the exception of the almonds, in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted.
- Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Continue stirring as the mixture boils for about 3 minutes. See note 1.
- Remove from the heat an stir in the almonds.
- Set aside to cool while you make the cake batter.
- Measure all of the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, then blend for about 5 minutes, using the paddle attachment, until all the ingredients are well incorporated. The mixture will have the consistency of a very thick batter. See note 2.
- Cover the bowl with clingfilm/plastic wrap and a clean towel and leave in a warm place for at least 2 hours to rise. See note 3.
- Once the batter has risen pour it into a greased 9" springform baking tin. Even the batter out as much as possible. See note 4. Leave to rise for a second time for about an hour.
- After an hour, switch the oven on to 180°C/350°F to pre-heat
- Carefully spoon the topping over the risen cake batter - see Note 5.
- Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out cleanly
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Beat the egg yolks until they are light and fluffy.
- Stir in the flour and cornflour. The mixture will be quite thick.
- Heat the milk, sugar and vanilla essence in a saucepan until it just comes to the boil.
- Pour half of the hot milk into the egg and flour mixture and whisk well to remove any lumps, then pour the milk and egg back into the rest of the hot milk in the saucepan.
- Whisk continuously over a low heat until the mixture thickens, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Whisk the cream until soft peaks form, then mix it through the cooled custard.
- Remove the cooled cake from the springform pan and carefully cut it in half through the centre with a serrated knife.
- Spread the bottom half of the cake with the creme pattisiere, then carefully add the top half of the cake.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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