A Bienenstich Kuchen, or Bee Sting Cake, is one of Germany’s most popular tea-time treats.
With thick and luscious vanilla cream sandwiched between two layers of light and sweet yeast dough, all topped with crunchy honey almonds, this classic cake is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.
About Bienenstich Cake
Nobody can say for sure who invented Bienenstich or how it got its name.
However, the popular legend is that it was first made in celebration of two bakers from the town of Andernach who chased off an attacking army from Linz in the 15th century by throwing bees nests at them from the city walls! (Don’t try this at home!)
This delicious German cake has two main components: a brioche dough (we call that a Hefeteig), with a caramelized almond topping, and a filling of classic vanilla pastry cream.
To make my authentic German Bee Sting Cake, you’ll need the following main ingredients:
- Plain or all-purpose flour and sugar: These make the base of the cake. In Germany, we usually use type 405 flour, though this is a flexible recipe, so type 550 will also work.
- Yeast: Traditionally in Germany, we bake with fresh or brewer’s yeast, which gives a particularly delicious result. You’ll need 21g (approximately half a cube) if using fresh yeast. This can be replaced with a 7g sachet of instant dried yeast.
- Milk and Butter: These enrich the dough to make it soft and supple. The milk is on triple duty, forming the base of the custard filling and helping to caramelise the almonds. I always use full-fat milk and unsalted butter in my baking.
- Egg yolks: Egg yolks enrich the custard and help it to set. I usually use large eggs when baking, which weigh around 63g in their shells. That is closer to a U.S.-size XL egg!
- Flaked Almonds: These form the deliciously crunchy nutty topping.
- Honey: What would a bee sting cake be without honey? I use a floral, runny honey in this cake recipe.
The complete ingredient list and recipe with detailed instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Feed a crowd
Like many traditional German cakes, Bienenstich is often made as a huge baking-tray-sized cake. I prefer to bake it in a round cake tin as you get more beautiful slices, not to mention there is only so much cake the two of us can eat (hint: quite a lot).
It’s also easier to use the ring of the cake pan to hold the vanilla cream in place as it sets. You can double the recipe if you want to make a larger portion.
Is this an authentic Bienenstich recipe?
Yes! As a classic of the German kitchen, there are very few variations of Bienenstich floating around. After all, why improve on perfection?
I’ve lived in Germany for over a decade and have spent many years practicing and perfecting baking their delicious cakes, and this is one of my favourites.
VARIATION: In saying that, infusing the cream with a liqueur or orange blossom water could give it a lovely twist.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I make Bee Sting Cake in advance?
Yes! Up to a day or two, though it is best eaten fresh. You can make the vanilla filling 3-4 days in advance and keep it chilled in an airtight container.
I have a nut allergy! Can I still make Bienenstich?
Unfortunately not, this cake needs the almonds on top – why not try my Vanilla Custard Squares instead?
Can I freeze Bienenstich?
It is possible to freeze Bienenstich, though the texture of the filling is better when the cake is fresh. Freeze slices in an airtight container.
Looking for more Tasty German Cake recipes?
I have loads more! Click here to see some of my favourite recipes!
Bee Sting Cake (Bienenstich) Recipe
German Bee Sting Cake (Bienenstich)
for the dough:
- 350 g all-purpose flour
- 50 g white sugar
- 7 g sachet instant yeast, or 21g fresh yeast
- zest of 1 lemon
- pinch of salt
- 150 ml whole milk
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
FOR THE FILLING:
- 400 ml full-fat milk
- 200 ml heavy cream
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 60 g cornstarch / cornflour
- 75 g white sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
FOR THE HONEY-ALMOND TOPPING:
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 50 ml cream
- 50 g white sugar
- 1 Tbsp runny honey
- 100 g sliced almonds
- HEAT MILK AND BUTTER: To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, lemon zest and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment fitted. Heat the milk and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is just melted. Remove from the heat and cool for 2-3 minutes before pouring into the bowl with the other ingredients.
- KNEAD DOUGH: Knead for 5 minutes until the dough is soft and supple, then shape the dough into a ball, cover with a cling film or plastic wrap and return to the bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- MAKE FILLING: Meanwhile, make the filling by whisking 100ml of the milk with the cornstarch, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Heat the remaining milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat until tiny bubbles form around the pan's sides.
- COOL FILLING: Pour the milk and cornstarch mixture into the hot milk and whisk constantly until thickened, taking care not to let the mixture boil. Scrape back into the bowl, press a piece of cling film or plastic wrap directly onto the surface and set aside to cool completely at room temperature.
- HEAT OVEN AND ROLL OUT DOUGH: When the dough has risen, heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Line the base with parchment paper and grease the sides of a 26cm (10 in.) round springform pan, then roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 26cm in diameter and lift into the pan. Cover and allow to rise a further 15 minutes.
- PREPARE TOPPING: While the dough rises for the second time, prepare the honey-almond topping by combining the butter, cream, sugar and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then simmer for 2 minutes. Stir through the almonds and remove from the heat.
- BAKE: Spread the almond mixture evenly across the dough, then bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until well-risen and golden brown. Allow to cool in the cake pan for 5 minutes, then loosen the cake edges with a small sharp knife and remove the side of the pan. Let the cake cool completely.
- CUT: When the dough is completely cool, use a serrated knife to cut evenly through the middle, setting aside the top layer. Place the bottom of the cake onto a serving plate and replace the ring of the cake pan around it.
- ADD FILLING: Use an electric beater to whisk the custard filling until completely smooth, then spread over the bottom layer of the cake and transfer to the fridge for at least one hour to set.
- SERVE: Meanwhile, use a sharp knife to cut the top of the cake into 8 even slices (you can even use a pizza roller here!) Place the slices on top when the cake has been in the fridge for half an hour. Serve chilled. Guten Appetit!
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