Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bienenstich Kuchen - German Bee Sting Cake - We Knead To Bake 12

Sometime in December 2012, Aparna had put a query as to how many of us would like to bake along twelve breads that she had intended to do through the year. I was among the first few enthusiasts; I had no clue as to how I shall be doing such a regular experiment given the odds against me. I travel off and on, I live in countries where certain ingredients are rare to find are a few such I can name.
I was very inspired by the active participation and i am happy though I did not post my breads on time, I attempted all of them. This marks the end of season one and we baked a celebratory cake like bread for the festive season. I am happy to be part of the group through the coming year too.

This month's bread was more in line with the joy of the season. The Bienenstich Kuchen, also known as German Bee- Sting Cake is not really a bread, but a traditional German sweet yeasted cake that has a baked on topping of crunchy almond toffee-like layer and is filled with vanilla pastry cream. This is eaten as dessert or is served with coffee/ tea.
There are funny anecdotes on how this bread got  the name though the more plausible one is that it got the name from the honey flavoured topping. The bread is made with enriched brioche-like dough that is typical of yeasted cakes. It contains loads of butter, some milk and eggs (that I chose to skip in this recipe).
Some of the problems one may face are that the filling should be strong enough to take the weight of the upper layer. the other is cutting the slices/ squares without squishing out and making a mess. However, these can easily be tackled. The first, by stabilising the whipped cream with cornstarch. The second can be taken care by placing the lower layer on a serving plate, making a collar around it with double layer parchment. This shall be slightly taller than the finished bee sting cake. Spread the filling evenly. Pre-cut the top layer in desired slices/ squares. Place them gently over the lower layer to assemble it to look like a whole. Refrigerate for a couple of hours and when ready to serve, remove the collar and cut along the already marked slices.

Bienenstich Kuchen - German Bee- sting Cake

For the pastry cream filling:
250 ml milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla flavoured custard powder ( I used corn flour, vanilla essence and a hint of yellow food colour)
200 ml cream
1 tablespoon corn starch

For the Dough:
1/2 cup milk  ( 1/4 cup as given in the recipe and 1/4 cup to substitute for one egg) (or more, I needed 1 tablespoon more)
100 gram butter at room temperature
2 cups/ 260 grams all purpose flour
2 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

For the Honey-Almond Topping:
50 grams butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cups almonds slivered

The Custard Filling: (This can be made the previous day and refrigerated also)
Keep aside 1/4 cup of milk.
Add sugar to the remaining milk in a saucepan. Bring this to a boil over medium heat stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, add the corn flour, flavour and the food colour to the set aside milk to achieve a lump free batter.
Add this to the boiling milk in a steady stream, whisking continuously to avoid lumps.
Take the pan off the heat when the custard becomes thick and allow to cool. If you find lumps and the custard is not smooth, run the hand blender through it and get the desired consistency.
Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate it till required.
When you are ready to fill the cake, whip the cream until soft peaks appear. Add the cornstarch and whisk further to achieve stiff peaks. You may want to place the whisking bowl and the blades in the freezer for a while before you do this. It helps in getting the proper consistency.
Take the custard from the fridge, whisk to make it smooth and gently fold in the whipped cream.
You might want to refrigerate this again to keep the filling thick.

The dough:
Heat the milk until hot, but not boiling.
Cut the butter in pieces and add to the milk, stirring until the butter melts in the milk. Take off the heat and allow it to cool a little. You shall want it warm to add to the dough,hence let it not cool too much.
Place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the food processor bowl and whisk. (Add the eggs, if using)
Add the butter and milk mixture while it is warm and knead till it forms a smooth and soft broiche like dough that's just short of sticky. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl and be easy to handle.
Shape the dough in a ball and place in a bowl. cover loosely and allow the dough to rise well for about two hours. The dough will not exactly double but would have risen well.
Deflate the dough and shape again in a smooth ball. Place it in a 8" (I had used my 24 cm/ 91/4" tin) round spring form pan that is lined with parchment. It is important to line the tin as the topping will melt and ooze a bit while baking, making it difficult to unmould.
The bread amy not fit fully in the pan and it is okay to have it not touching the sides.
Let it rise for another 45 minutes or so until it looks puffy.

The topping: (prepare this while the dough id on the first rise and allow to cool)
Melt the butter, sugar, honey and vanilla in a small pan over medium heat. Keep stirring and mixing until the mixture bubbles up. Let it cook for three minutes or so until it gets a nice beige colour. Add the almond slivers and toss them until well coated. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool a bit. As it cools the mixture will thicken.

Baking the bread:
Once the dough has risen, spread the bits of the now thick, fudge textured topping on the top of the dough. Distribute it uniformly as possible.
Bake the bread at 180 degrees C for 25 to 35 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling. The cake tester sent through the centre shall come out clean. Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then gently loosen the sides and unmould the cake. Allow to cool completely.
When cooled well, slice the cake in two layered halves.
Spread the custard pastry cream over the bottom layer. As suggested above, use the collar and slicing the top tip, assemble the top layer over the lower one.
Refrigerate till ready to serve.
This makes 8 to 10 slices.

I had also meant to bake a thirteenth bread to round off the baker's dozen.  Life outside my blog caught on a fast track and I was kept otherwise busy. However, I did bake the pita bread from Aparna's blog only. I am guiding you to the recipe which is just a click away from here.


  1. This cake looks out of the world. And what a lovely topping and the custard filling would have been delicious. And the photographs do total justice to the product.

  2. Looks too good and tempting.. awesome clicks too!!


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