Bee Sting Cake (Bienenstich)

The Bee Sting Cake, known as “Bienenstich” in German, has a charming origin story that dates back centuries in Germany.

Legend has it that the name “Bienenstich” (literally “bee sting”) comes from an incident that occurred in the Middle Ages. According to the story, a group of raiding soldiers from a neighboring village attempted to steal a beehive from a baker’s shop. To protect his hive, the baker made a sweet, sticky cake topped with honey and almonds and placed it in front of the beehive. When the soldiers approached and tried to take the hive, the bees were provoked by the aroma of the cake and attacked the intruders, stinging them. The thwarted raiders fled, leaving the beehive and the baker’s shop unharmed.

While the legend may be more fiction than fact, it adds a whimsical touch to the history of the Bee Sting Cake.

The cake itself is believed to have originated in the region of Swabia in southern Germany, known for its rich culinary traditions. Its exact origins are unclear, but it likely emerged as a regional specialty in the 19th or early 20th century.

The traditional Bee Sting Cake consists of a yeasted sponge cake base filled with a creamy custard or vanilla buttercream filling. The top of the cake is typically adorned with a layer of caramelized almonds, which give the cake its distinctive appearance and crunchy texture. Some variations may also include honey in the cake batter or filling, paying homage to the cake’s name and the use of honey in its mythical origin.

Over time, the Bee Sting Cake has become a beloved dessert in Germany, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. It is often served on special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, and holidays, and can be found in bakeries and cafes throughout the country. Its sweet, buttery flavor and unique combination of textures make it a delightful treat for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Today, the Bee Sting Cake continues to be cherished as a symbol of German baking heritage, offering a taste of tradition and a touch of whimsy with every bite.

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 500g (about 4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 7g (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 75g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 250ml (1 cup) warm milk
  • 75g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs

For the filling:

  • 500ml (2 cups) whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 40g (1/3 cup) cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250ml (1 cup) heavy cream, whipped (optional)

For the topping:

  • 100g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 50g (1/4 cup) honey
  • 100g (1 cup) sliced almonds

Preparation

  1. Prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, instant yeast, sugar, and salt. Add the warm milk, softened butter, and eggs. Mix until a smooth dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  2. Make the filling: In a saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it begins to simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer the custard to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (pressing it directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming), and refrigerate until completely chilled.
  3. Preheat the oven: While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  4. Shape and bake the dough: Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and transfer it to the prepared baking pan. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Let it rise again for about 15-20 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  5. Prepare the topping: In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and honey until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the sliced almonds until evenly coated.
  6. Assemble the cake: Once the cake has cooled, spread the chilled custard filling evenly over the top. If desired, top the custard with whipped cream. Carefully spread the almond topping over the whipped cream.
  7. Final touches: Place the assembled cake under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until the almonds are lightly toasted (watch closely to prevent burning). Alternatively, you can use a kitchen torch to toast the almonds.
  8. Chill and serve: Refrigerate the Bee Sting Cake for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

This Bee Sting Cake is a delicious combination of fluffy dough, creamy custard filling, and crunchy almond topping—a true delight for any dessert lover!

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