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Published prior to 2008

Several months ago-(or maybe a year? Who knows where the time goes, as Judy Collins once asked)-a reader sent us an old family recipe for Bienenstich ("bee sting"), a yeasted pastry dough, German in origin, filled with custard and topped with honey-glazed sliced almonds. We tried the recipe, but never could get it quite right; so we set it aside, figuring we’d get back to it eventually.

Just recently one of our favorite professional baking magazines, Modern Baking, printed a recipe for Bienenstich, so we picked up the gauntlet again, and this time succeeded (thanks to some tips we learned in the magazine). This tender, buttery dough layered with a rich (though unconventional) vanilla pastry cream, and topped with sticky, sweet almonds is a fitting end to a light early-summer dinner. Or enjoy a sliver with your afternoon coffee; no seconds if you’re counting calories!

2 1/3 cups (9 3/4 ounces) Mellow Pastry Blend or 2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) butter
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (2 ounces) water

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick, 3 ounces) butter
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) sugar
3 tablespoons (2 ounces) honey
2 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (4 3/4 ounces) sliced almonds

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (about 2/3 of a packet, or 3 to 4 sheets)
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) water
1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream, whipped to very soft peaks
3-ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Manual/Mixer Method: Combine all of the dough ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, stirring till the mixture becomes cohesive. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled or lightly floured work surface, and knead it for 5 to 8 minutes, till it’s smooth. Or knead it in an electric mixer, using the dough hook, for 4 to 7 minutes at medium speed. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to grease all sides, cover the bowl with a proof cover or plastic wrap, and let it rise for 60 minutes, till it’s puffy.

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer (usually, liquids first, yeast last). Program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. After about 10 minutes of kneading, check the dough’s consistency; it should be fairly smooth, slightly sticky, not dry and "gnarly." Adjust its consistency with additional flour or water, if necessary, and allow the machine to complete its cycle.

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, fold it over to expel any excess gas, then divide it in half. Roll each piece into a ball, then pat and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle. Place the circles into two lightly greased 8-inch cake pans; don’t worry if the dough shrinks away from the edges of the pans. Allow it to rise/rest for 30 minutes-the gluten will relax, making the dough easier to work with-then gently stretch and pat it to reach the edge. Make the topping while the dough is rising.

Topping: Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add the sugar, honey and cream. Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil it for 3 to 5 minutes, until it’s taken on a very light gold color. Stir in the almonds, let cool slightly, then spread over the dough in the pans.

Baking: Bake the Bienenstich in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 28 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the topping is bubbling. Remove it from the oven, and cool in the pan for 30 minutes, to allow the topping to firm up. Run a knife around the edges of the pans to loosen any stuck-on dough, and flip each cake over onto a plate, then flip back onto a rack so the almond topping is up. Cool completely before filling.

Assembly: Carefully split each of the cakes in half horizontally, so that you have four thin, round cakes. This is best done using a serrated knife; cut slowly and check as you go to make sure you’re staying on a straight line. Set the cakes aside.

Soften the gelatin in the 2 tablespoons water, then heat the mixture (in a microwave set on low, or over low heat in a saucepan) until the gelatin has melted and the mixture is clear. Let it cool slightly.

Fold a bit of the whipped cream into the gelatin, then fold that back into the remaining whipped cream.

Mix the instant pudding with the milk and vanilla, stirring for 2 minutes as the box directs. Immediately fold the whipped cream/gelatin mixture into the pudding (the pudding will begin to set up, so work quickly). Use this faux pastry cream to fill the cakes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate till you’re ready to serve. Yield: 2 cakes, 16 servings.

Note: We really like this method of making pastry cream; both the ease of preparation, and the delicious final product. The whipped cream makes the filling very rich, while the gelatin stabilizes it, so it’ll stay firm (and not "weep") in your pastry for days, if necessary. When we’re in a hurry, and know we’re making a pastry that doesn’t have to keep for a long time, we simply prepare instant vanilla pudding mix using heavy cream instead of milk, spiking it with an extra shot (a teaspoon or two) of vanilla extract. Either of these two methods produces a filling that’s wonderful for cream puffs, éclairs, napoleons (if you ever make those at home), cakes, or other filled confections.

Nutrition information per serving (1 slice, 101g): 314 cal, 19g fat, 6g protein, 17g complex carbohydrates, 13g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 71mg cholesterol, 216mg sodium, 154mg potassium, 167RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 68mg calcium, 162mg phosphorus.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XIII, No. 4, Spring 2002 issue.


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  • star rating 02/09/2015
  • from
  • star rating 07/01/2014
  • Michelle from Nj
  • I have made this several times and it is always beautiful and delicious. Instead of using the filling as written in the recipe, I use a lemon buttercream (half lemon curd, half vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream whipped together). Sometimes I double the recipe for the dough and freeze a couple of rounds after letting it rise in a greased plastic-wrap lined pan. After it's frozen I take the dough out of the pan and wrap well, then store in freezer bags till the next time I want to make the recipe.
  • star rating 04/19/2014
  • Ellen from London
  • The cake portion was a disaster. The cream filling is a great recipe.
    We are really sorry to hear the cake portion was not a success. Please call our toll free Baker's Hotline, 1-855-371-BAKE for more assistance. We would love to troubleshoot with you! Elisabeth@KAF
  • star rating 01/27/2014
  • Nathan from Honey creek Wi.
  • First time baking a yeast cake and it was delicious. My ten year old promptly asked for this to be his birthday cake in July so I will definitely be using this recipe again.
  • star rating 09/23/2013
  • Diane from Az
  • This recipe reminds me of a dessert found in Colma and Daily City, suburbs of San Francisco, but it is called a Bee Hive. You can still get it in the bakeries there.
  • star rating 05/26/2013
  • Jen from Wisconsin
  • I loved the flavors, but my custard was very runny. I used 2% milk instead of whole, could that have been the problem? Maybe I didn't cook it til it was thick enough, but I didn't want to curdle the eggs in it.
    Yes,when made with 2%, it may set as well as when made with whole milk. It is possible you did not cook it long enough. The custard needs to coat the back of the spoon. Be sure you can see the cream bubble from the bottom of the pot. Take a pause from stirring so you can see this happen. I hope you will try this again ! Elisabeth
  • 11/26/2012
  • Rose from Garner, NC
  • I am from Germany and Bienenstich was and still is my favorite cake; however, the region I am from never used pudding, but whipping cream for the center filling. I have never eaten it with pudding in the middle. I will use your recipe for he dough and use the whipped cream as always. One can also slice the cake and then freeze the individual slices. It freezes real well even with the whipped cream. I do that always. This way I do not have to thaw out the whole cake just to each a slice. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. I find once you slice the cake in half with the alomond topping in place, slice the top part and then assemble the slices back onto the cake and slice all the way through. This way it does not compress the filling.
  • star rating 11/11/2012
  • Elle from Milwaukee, WI
  • Great tasting Bienenstich - tastes just like what we get at Oktoberfest. It's also really easy to follow and make. This cake has become a tradition at family get togethers, including Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • star rating 03/16/2012
  • Ann from Sherwood, WI
  • This was beyond delicious! Simple enough to do- (I did have some trouble with the gelatin in the whipping cream) Judging by the reviews, it does not appear to be a very popular recipe, but I can say it is underappreciated and needs to be highlighted- I think you should feature this recipe in a blog, and more people will find out about to buy the whipped cream stabilizer.....I will be making this many more times-
    Please call us if you have any questions about tempering with gelatin. ~Amy
  • star rating 10/02/2011
  • sneds1 from KAF Community
  • I just made this for the first time, and it was delicious! The only problem I had was with the gelatin. I followed the directions for melting the gelatin in the water, cooling slightly, and then folding in with whipped cream. The gelatin became lumpy when folded in, and the lumps remained when I folded in the pudding. The taste and consistency were excellent, except for the lumps! Any ideas?? The almond topping was great, and the cake a very nice texture. Also, not too sweet.
    I am happy the taste was super but am sorry there were lumps. It is important to fold or stir in some of the whipped cream into the dissolved gelatin mixture. Then fold into the rest of the whipped cream. Elisabeth
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