Delicious Honey and Crispy Almonds Make Bienenstich Kuchen Perfect!
Looking for a delicious German cake with a nice level of sweetness? You’ve got to make this Bienenstich recipe.
Known as German Bee Sting Cake, this layer cake looks complicated but it’s actually relatively easy to make.
The dough is the same as for a classic German butter cake. The cake is then cut and filled with a silky layer of vanilla pudding cream.
The top is finished off with honey and butter glazed almonds that create a wonderful crunch when you break through!
Bienenstich – pronounced something like “Bee-nin-steeH” (there is no exact English equivalent for the German “ch” sound) – is a classic German cake recipe.
In fact, the history of Bienenstich – and how it got its unique name – is a fun story.
Legend has it that the German baker who first made the cake had to endure a few bee stings… because they were attracted to the honey in the almonds!
Luckily, the baker was committed enough to the cake recipe to share it. For us, the pain involved in putting together this bee sting cake recipe was minimal!
Bienenstich was always a popular cake in Lisa’s family – especially when she went to visit her grandparents for coffee and cake on the weekends.
How to Make Bienenstich – Step by Step Recipe Instructions
If you want to make this recipe for Bienenstich, you can find the whole recipe card at the bottom of this post.
For those who want to follow along with the process photos, you can see them below.
Sometimes it is just easier to see visuals of what you are supposed to do – especially when a cake involves multiple steps like this one.
We’ll start by making the dough for the cake. First, heat up the milk in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove until it is warm.
It should be warm but not too hot or boiling since that could harm the yeast bacteria.
Add the flour to a large mixing bowl, then also add the dry yeast. Sprinkle the sugar on top and pour the warm milk in as well.
Knead everything with the spiral dough hooks of your electric mixer for a couple of minutes.
Now add the butter and the egg. They should both be at room temperature since that’s better for the yeast.
Keep kneading the dough with your electric mixer – or your hands – for around 5 minutes until it forms a ball and the dough doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl anymore.
Cover the bowl with the ball of dough with a lid or dishtowel and place it in a warm spot in your home without a draft for around one hour.
In the meantime prepare the vanilla instant pudding according to package directions. There are different brands out there.
Some puddings have to be boiled, others don’t so just follow the instructions on the package and make sure to add a little bit more vanilla extract.
If you don’t want to use instant pudding, you can also easily make your own vanilla pudding at home. We have an easy recipe for homemade vanilla pudding that you can follow.
Once you have made the pudding, pour it into a bowl (if you made it on the stovetop) and cover it with cling film.
This will stop the “pudding skin” that some people hate so much from forming. Then set the bowl with the pudding aside for now.
Now it is time to prepare the almond topping. For this, add butter, sugar, honey and whipping cream to a small pot.
Heat everything on the stove on low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Stir regularly.
Once the mixture is heated, remove the pot from hot burner and stir in the sliced almonds. After everything is well mixed, set the pot aside to allow the mixture to cool.
Back to the dough for the cake! After the dough is done rising, sprinkle some flour onto the countertop.
Knead the dough briefly with your hands, then roll it out with a rolling pin until it is the same size as your baking pan. We used a baking pan with the size of approx. 13.5 x 9.5 inches.
Lightly grease and flour your baking pan. Then place the dough into the pan and let it rest for another 15 minutes.
In the meantime you can preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the 15 minutes are up, spread the cooled almond topping onto the dough.
Then bake the cake on the middle rack of your oven for approximately 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Start watch the cake towards the end since every oven is slightly different and you don’t want the top to get too brown.
When the top is nicely golden brown, remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan.
In theory you could eat the cake like this but we want to make an actual bee sting cake so there are a few more steps involved.
Once the cake is pretty much cool, finish the pudding cream filling.
Here you have two choices:
- You can either use whipping cream for a lighter, fluffier filling. For this whip the whipping cream in a medium-sized mixing bowl until it is quite stiff. In Germany, we would also add some “Sahnesteif” (something like a whipping cream stabilizer to make it firmer) but we haven’t really seen that in grocery stores in North America. Then fold the cream into the pudding using a spatula (this is what we did).
- Alternatively (and more traditionally), you can use butter for a richer, slightly firmer filling. For this mix the butter in a medium-sized bowl using the normal beaters of your electric mixer until it has a creamy consistency. Then add the pudding little by little and keep mixing it in.
Once the cake has fully cooled, first cut along the edges between the cake and the pan to make sure the cake is not sticking to the pan.
Then cut the cake into quarters and remove them from the pan.
Now cut the quartered slices horizontally in the middle to separate the almond-covered top from the cake bottom. In our experience, this works best with a serrated knife.
Spread the bottoms of the cake with the pudding-cream filling. We would also recommend that you cut the tops into slices of your desired size now.
It is so much easier to pre-cut the tops now than cutting the whole assembled cake later since the crunchy almond top can make it quite difficult to cut through.
Then place the cut almond tops back on top of the pudding-cream filling in their correct place.
Repeat the steps with the other quarters until you have spread filling onto all bottom parts and cut the tops for the whole cake.
In our case, we cut each quarter into four slices. However, depending on the size and form of your baking pan you might want to cut them differently.
Cover the assembled cake with aluminum foil and place it in the fridge for at least one hour to allow the pudding filling to get firmer.
When serving the cake, just cut it using the pre-cut top slices as guides.
In our opinion, Bienenstich tastes best fresh so you should make it either the day you plan to serve it (if you have enough time) or maximum the night before.
You can store leftover slices covered with foil or in a container in the fridge for an extra day or so. But since this cake has a cream/butter-pudding filling it doesn’t last as long as dry cakes without filling do.
Bienenstich (German Bee Sting Cake)
- 2/3 cup milk, warm
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons dry instant yeast
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 medium-sized egg, room temperature
The Pudding-Cream Filling (see notes)
- 2 cups milk, estimate
- 1 package instant pudding, vanilla (approximately 1/2 cup pudding powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup whipping cream or 1/2 cup butter, needed towards the end
The Almond Topping
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 2 cups sliced almonds
Make The Dough
- Warm up the milk in the microwave or on the stove. It should be slightly warm, not hot or boiling!
- Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the dry yeast (check packaging instructions to make sure it doesn’t have to be dissolved in water or milk first). Sprinkle the sugar on top. Now add the lukewarm milk and the vanilla extract and knead everything using the spiral dough hooks of your electric mixer.
- Add the soft butter, and egg and keep kneading the dough for around 5 minutes until it forms a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add a little bit more flour. If it is too crumbly, add a little bit more milk and knead again.
- Place a towel or lid over the bowl and let the ball of dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place without a draft.
Make The Pudding
- Prepare the instant pudding according to package directions with the pudding powder and milk. Also, add more vanilla extract to give it a more intense flavor. The 2 cups of milk mentioned above should be accurate for most instant puddings but adjust it according to the pudding you are using.
- After you have prepared the pudding, pour it into a bowl, cover it with cling film, and set it aside. You do not need the whipping cream or butter yet!
Make The Almond Topping
- Add butter, sugar, honey, and whipping cream to a small pot. Heat everything on low heat until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved.
- Remove the pot from heat and stir in the sliced almonds. Set the mixture aside to cool.
Bake And Assemble
- Grease and flour a baking sheet/pan of approx. 13.5 x 9.5 inches in size.
- After the dough is done rising, sprinkle flour onto your countertop. Briefly knead the dough again, then roll it out so it fits the size of your baking sheet.
- Place the dough into the baking pan and let it rest for another 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- After the 15 minutes are up, spread the almond topping onto the dough.
- Bake the cake in the middle rack of your oven for around 20-25 minutes until the top is nicely golden brown but not burned.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool fully.
- In the meantime, whip the cream or the butter for the pudding filling. The choice is up to you. Using cream will make it slightly fluffier, using butter will make it richer but also firmer and slightly easier to assemble. When using cream, carefully fold the cream into the pudding with a spatula. When using butter, carefully mix the pudding little by little into the whipped butter. Set the pudding filling aside.
- Cut the cooled cake into quarters and remove them from the baking pan. Then cut the quartered slices horizontally separating the almond-covered top from the cake bottom.
- Spread the bottoms of the cake with the pudding-cream filling. Cut the tops into slices of desired size (it is easier to cut them into slices now than cutting the whole cake once it is assembled because of the crunchy almonds on top). Then place the almond tops back on top of the pudding-cream filling in their correct place.
- Let the cake cool for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the pudding cream to harden slightly. Cut the cake into slices before serving.
- The dough for this cake is quite easy to make. However, since it depends on the yeast working correctly, it is important to use yeast that has not expired yet.
- It is also important that the milk is not too warm when getting in contact with the yeast. Otherwise, it might keep the dough from rising.
- Instead of using instant pudding, you can also make your own vanilla pudding at home. For this, just follow our homemade vanilla pudding recipe.
- You can store leftovers of this cake in the fridge for around three days.
This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.