Since baking for We Knead to Bake I have come across different breads. Most of them something I never knew existed. It’s been an amazing experience.
For We Knead to Bake this festive season we are baking BienenstichKuchen/ German Bee Sting Cake.
Bienenstich is not really a bread but a traditional German sweet yeasted cake baked with topping of crunchy almond toffee-like layer and filled with a vanilla pastry cream. Bienenstich is traditionally eaten as dessert and also served with tea or coffee.
Its name Bienenstich in German means “bee sting” and probably got its name from the honey flavoured topping that it typical of this yeasted cake.
Aparna has shared some interesting stories connected to the cake/ bread. One story is that the German baker who was creating this recipe came across a bee (possibly attracted by the honey) and was stung by it and decided to name the cake after the incident!
Another story is that a group of German bakers stopped invaders from entering a neighbouring village, sometime in the 15th century, by throwing beehives at them. In order to celebrate their victory, they created the original version of the Bienenstich.
The Bienenstich is typically made with enriched brioche-like dough which means that it contains a lot of butter, some milk and eggs. Aparna has reduced the egg to one but gave us the option of using 2 eggs and warned us that in that case we might need to add one or two tblspn. more flour to the dough. The eggs she said is optional if left out It will make a slight difference to the texture but not too much.
The Bienenstich cake is typically filled with pastry cream which is a mix of custard and whipped cream. I have used an egg-free version that uses custard powder that Aparna has given with the recipe. The other tasty options that Aparna provided were butter cream, Bavarian Cream or Diplomat Cream.
Since the cake is a bit heavy the filling should not be runny or too soft or it will not be able to carry the weight of the upper cake layer. You can also add fruit (strawberry, kiwi, mango, etc) to your “cream” layer even though this is not traditional.
You can bake the Bienenstich in a round cake tin and cut it into slices or in a square tin and cut it out into squares like we do with brownies another interesting option will be a muffin tray.
Thankfully I had followed Aparna points as she had said,” one of the problems of this yeasted cake is making sure the filling is strong enough to take the weight of the upper layer. The other problem is cutting the Bienenstich into slices or squares without the filling squishing out ad making a mess of everything. (I had the last slice a mess because my nieces wanted equal sized slice and were refusing to share).
The first problem can be taken care of by using a filling that will hold up and not using too much filling. The whipped cream can be stabilized with cornstarch (or agar or gelatine if you use it). You can always thing the remaining filling and serve it with the Bienestich as a sauce.
The second problem can be taken care of by placing the lower layer of the cake on the serving plate and then making a collar around it with a double layer of parchment paper that should be a little taller than the height of your finished Bienenstich. Now spread the filling over the lower layer evenly.
Then pre-cut your upper almond toffee layer into slices or squares depending on the shape of your Bienenstich. Now place the slices/ squares on top of the filling so it looks like the top layer is whole. Refrigerate this for at least a couple of hours before serving. When ready to serve, remove the parchment collar, and use the slices/ squares as a guide and cut through the filling right to the bottom.”
BienenstichKuchen (German Bee Sting Cake)
Serves 8 to 10
For the Pastry Cream Filling:
250ml milk (I used 6%)
3 tbsp vanilla flavoured custard powder
150 grms whipped cream
For the Dough:
1/4 cup milk (I used 6%)
100gm butter, at room temperature
2 cups maida
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp active yeast
For the Honey-Almond Topping:
50 gm butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup almonds, sliced (see Note)
Make the custard for the filling first:
- This can be made the previous day and refrigerated till required.
- Keep aside 1/4 cup of milk dissolve the custard powder in it.
- Put the remaining milk and the sugar in pan and Over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil . Stir frequently to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the custard powder and milk in a steady stream to the boiling milk, keep whisking so that no lumps are formed.
- Keep whisking until the custard becomes very thick. Then set the pan off the heat and let the custard cool to room temperature. Keep whisking it on and off so it stays smooth. (If it does become lumpy after cooling, use a hand blender to make it smooth.)
- Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
- Once you are ready to fill the Bienenstich, whip the whipped cream till it forms soft peaks.
- Whisk the custard to make sure it is smooth.
- Add to the whipped cream and continue beating till smooth.
To make the dough:
- Heat the milk till it is quite hot but not boiling. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the milk, stirring it until the better melts completely. Let it cool a little.
- Soak the yeast in 1tblspn of warm water. You will not get a slurry but a soft dough like substance which after 5 minutes is active and bubbly dough like.
- Mix the flour, sugar, salt and the yeast in a bowl . Use the whisk and mix well.
- To this mixture add the egg (leave the egg out if you don’t use it). Whisk well again till the egg has also well mixed .
- Now add the warm butter-milk mixture and the then knead till it forms a smooth and soft (loose) brioche-like dough that’s just short of sticky. It should come way from the sides of the bowl and be easy to handle. As I had added 1 tblspn of water I added about a tblspn of flour to get the right consistency.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl. Cover loosely and let it rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. This dough will rise quite well but not to double or as much as your regular bread dough.
- As the dough is rising line a tin with a mixture of oil, maida and ghee. Grease the butter paper and line the 8”spring form cake tin. It is important to do this otherwise the topping will make the bread/ cake sticky and difficult to unmould.
- Once the dough will have risen Deflate the dough, and shape again to a smooth ball.
- Flatten the dough a little, pressing down lightly so that the dough fits the cake tin. It doesn’t matter if it’s not touching the sides like batter does.
- Let it rise for about 30 to 45 minutes. It will not rise very much and look a little puffy.
Prepare the topping while the dough rises:
- Melt the butter, sugar, honey and vanilla in a small pan, over medium heat.
- Keep stirring frequently and it will start bubbling up.
- Let it cook for about 3 minutes or so until it turns to a light beige colour.
- Add the sliced almonds, and stir well till the almonds are well coated.
- Take the pan off the heat and let it cool a bit. The mixture will become quite thick.
To bake the cake/ bread:
- Once the dough has risen, use a spoon take bits if the sticky fudge like topping and distribute it evenly over the cake surface. small gaps will get covered once the bread/ cake is baking.
- Bake at 180C (350F) for about 25 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling. A wooden skewer through the centre should come out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then gently loosen the sides with a spatula and unmould.
- Let it cool completely on a rack.
- When it has cooled completely, slice the cake into two equal layers carefully, using a very sharp knife.
- Since mine was a round cake I cut the top half with a sharp knife in 8 wedges.
- Spread the pastry cream on the lower layer and top with the upper layer and refrigerate till ready to serve.
To get almond slices:
- Like me if you do not get sliced almonds make them. It’s simple soak the almonds overnight then drain and peel them.
- In case you forget to soak them overnight boil water switch off the gas then add the almonds. In 5-10 minutes they can be peeled after you drain the water.
- To make the slices dry those on the kitchen napkin then with a sharp knife slice them.
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