This lovely rendition of bee sting cake, or bienenstich kuchen, is a yeast-raised cake baked in an American 13x9-inch pan, then split and filled with a pastry- and whipped-cream mixture.
All ingredients can be found in American supermarkets, which makes this a German cake that is easy to put together.
This cake takes about 1 1/2 hours total hands-on time, 50 minutes to bake and a few hours to chill the pastry cream and cool the cake. To make things a little easier, you might want to make the cake and/or the filling the day before assembling it.
- For the Pastry Cream:
- 1 1/2 cups/340 milliliters half and half
- 1/2 cup/90 grams sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean (or vanilla bean paste or 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar)
- 2 large eggs (room-temperature)
- 1 large egg yolk (room-temperature)
- 3 tablespoons/30 grams flour (all-purpose)
- 1/4 teaspoon/2 grams salt
- 1 cup/226 grams cream (heavy whipping)
- For the Cake:
- 2 teaspoons/8 grams yeast (instant)
- 4 cups/500 grams flour (all-purpose)
- 2 tablespoons flour (all-purpose)
- 7 1/2 tablespoons/100 grams butter
- 2 1/2 tablespoons/75 grams honey
- 1 cup/225 milliliters milk (lukewarm but not hot)
- 1 large egg (room-temperature)
- 1/2 teaspoon/4 grams salt
- For the Almond Topping:
- 1/4 cup/50 grams sugar
- 1/2 cup/125 grams honey
- 9 tablespoons/125 grams butter
- 2 cups/150 to 200 grams almond (slices or slivers)
- 1/2 teaspoon/4 grams vanilla extract
Make the Pastry Cream
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine half-and-half with 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla stirring constantly to dissolve sugar.
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and egg yolk with 3 tablespoons of flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth.
Temper the egg mixture by adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup hot half-and-half mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. Then stir the egg mixture into the rest of the half-and-half in the saucepan in a thin stream, whisking constantly.
Keep stirring until mixture starts to thicken but do not let it boil. When it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat, pour into a bowl which has been set on top of a bowl of ice cubes. Stir several times.
Place plastic wrap over the pastry cream so that it touches the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
When the pastry cream has cooled down some, remove it from the ice bath and store it in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
Don't worry, you will incorporate the 1 cup of heavy whipping cream into the cold pastry cream just before assembling the cake.
Make the Cake Dough
In a large bowl, whisk together instant yeast and flour.
In a microwave-safe bowl, heat 7 1/2 tablespoons butter with 2 1/2 tablespoons honey until just melted. Stir in lukewarm milk, add 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and whisk well. This mixture should have a temperature of 100 F / 38 C.
Add liquids to the bowl of flour and mix on low in a stand mixer (or with a wooden spoon) until shaggy dough forms.
Knead until the dough becomes smooth and pliable and comes away from the bowl. Form dough into a ball, oil the surface and place in a clean bowl. Cover with a clean cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes to an hour or until doubled in bulk.
Make the Almond Topping
In the meantime, make the almond topping by placing 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup honey, and 9 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan.
Heat and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Continue boiling for several minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn.
Add the almonds and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, stirring to coat. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm.
Bake the Cake
Heat oven to 350 F. Coat 13 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray.
Roll the risen dough out into a 13 x 9-inch rectangle. Place the dough in the pan, pushing to the edges and making the edges slightly higher than the middle.
Spread the lukewarm almond topping evenly over the top of the dough.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from oven and let the cake cool completely, then remove the entire cake, carefully using 2 spatulas, to a wax paper coated surface or cutting board.
Assemble the Cake
Whip 1 cup heavy whipping cream until very stiff, but stop whipping before it becomes clumpy and starts to turn into butter.
Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cold pastry cream to lighten it, then carefully fold the rest into the pastry cream trying not to deflate the volume.
Using a serrated knife, cut the cake horizontally all the way through. Remove the top half and set aside.
Spread all of the pastry cream over the bottom of the cake. Place the top back on the cake.
At this point, you can serve immediately or place in the refrigerator, which helps the pastry cream set up.
Note: If your pastry cream is too loose, you can freeze the entire cake, cut it frozen, plate it, and let it thaw or serve as an ice cream cake (not traditional but very yummy).