The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need Authentic Recipe for the Topping to Bienenstich aka "Bee Sting Cake"

baltochef's picture

Need Authentic Recipe for the Topping to Bienenstich aka "Bee Sting Cake"

nbicomputers' thread on New York Crumb Buns in the Photos section of the forum has gotten me to thinking about making up a pan of Bienenstich..I have not made this in over 20 years..When I did make Bienenstich, in the German-American bakery that I worked in while attending culinary school, we used a crumb topping very similar, ingredient wise, to what Norm posted in his recipe for the crumb buns..Something I read a while ago leads me to believe that in Germany the topping for Bienenstich is different from what we used in that bakery so many years ago..

Does anyone on the forum have an authentic recipe for Bienenstich that they would be willing to share with me??..I am especiaslly interested in the topping, as I have very good recipes for the sweet dough and the custard filling..

If I get a good recipe for the topping, I will procede to make myself an extender out of cardboard and aluminum foil and whip up a batch of Bienenstich next week..

Thanks, Bruce

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

as I know it, is a caramel flavored cake with a thick almost liquid caramel type frosting.  It is honey colored.


possum-liz's picture

The bee sting cake from our local German baker is a slightly sweet plain white bread baked in a cake tin. The topping is a baked on caramel/toffee with flaked almonds. It's split and filled with custard when cold.

One recipe for the topping is:

1 1/2 Tbsp honey brought to the boil add 1 1/2 Tbsp butter and 1/4 c castor sugar. Stir until dissolved. Then turn off and stirr in slmonds. Spread topping in a 20 cm circle on parchment paper. (Note:Australian tbsp is 4 teaspoons, castor sugar is superfine sugar)

When cold remove from the paper and place on the dough before baking.

I haven't tried it.

Baker007's picture

All the bee stings I've tried have a honey/caramel slivered almond topping.  I'm not sure how authentic this is but we do have a German settlement here in South Australia and this is the topping the local bakers of the region use as well.

I'd love to make this too.



baltochef's picture

This is interesting news to me..It accords with something I read several months ago as regards to the topping, but that I never bothered to follow up on..The topping that we used in that bakery back in 1984 was the same kind of crumb topping that we used on crumb buns, coffee cakes, etc..I am just guessing that this bakery, which was in an old-time, hard-core German immigrant neighborhood of Baltimore, MD, switched to the crumb topping on the Bienenstich as a means of economizing on the topping..The traditional almond topping is probably 2-3 times as expensive to produce as is the butter crumb topping, depending on the price of almonds..

I would like to hear from some others on how their local baker presents Bienenstich to their community..Some research that I did over the net yesterday leads me to believe that Bienenstich has evolved (perhaps always was??) into two distinct desserts..

The first is the yeasted sweet dough baked with a honey-sugar caramel topping filled with slivered almonds..After baking this is sliced in half horizontally and filled with a rich vanilla Bavarian custard..

Bavarian custard = egg-rich vanilla custard with whipped, sweetened heavy cream folded into the custard..

The second version is a coffee cake version made with chemical leaveners that is  also sliced in half and filled with a Bavarian custard..It appears that the coffee cake version has morphed into two cakes with separate styles of toppings..The first has the traditional honey-sugar caramel topping that has the slivered almonds in it..The second style is a rich buttercream frosting that has caramel added to the frosting with slivered almonds pressed into the frosting to complete the dessert..

Does this seem to accord with everyone's memories and current experiences??..

One last question, "Is the traditional caramel topping always prepared beforehand in a one piece layer, laid on top of the sweet dough prior to baking, and baked together??"..


Oldcampcook's picture

When I was stationed in Germany a thousand years ago, a German friend baked bienenstich for me quite often.  He used the first topping you mentioned and, as far as I can remember, even the 'commercial" bakeries used the same style of topping.

The crumb topping was used on pflaumenkucken (plum tarts), even by my German mother-in-law.


plevee's picture

There is a recipe for this in Nick Malgieri's "Perfect Cakes". It is a brioche with a pastry cream filling and an almond brittle topping made of butter, honey, sugar and blanched almonds.

I can copy this for you if it sounds right. Patsy

Oldcampcook's picture

Yes, please, prettty please.


plevee's picture

Here goes, it's rather long;

Easy Brioche

1/2 C milk

1 envelope active dry yeast

Heat the milk to ~110F Stir in the yeast

Add 1 C AP flour, cover & set aside

Put 6T butter cut into 6-8 pices

+ 3T sugar

+ 1/2 t salt

in food processor & pulse till smooth, add

2 large eggs, one at a time & process till smooth after each


1 1/4 C flour plus the milk yeast mixture. Pulse till a smooth dough forms, then process for additional 15 secs

Scrape onto a floured surface & fold several times to make it more elastic.

Fot the cake;

Almond brittle topping:

6T unsalted butter

1/4C honey

1/4 C sugar

1C (~4oz) sliced blanched almonds

Pastry cream filling:

1C milk

1/4C sugar

2T cornstarch

4 egg yolks

2t vanilla extract

1T kirsch (optional)

8T unsalted butter

Form the dough into a sphere, rest, covered 5 mins then press into buttered 10x2" springform buttered & bottom lined with parchment paper. Wrap pan in foil in case the topping leaks

Prick top all over at 1" intervals with a fork, cover & let rise 30 mins at room temperature till risen by half.

Refrigerate uncovered 20 mins

Heat oven to 350F

Combine topping ingredients, honrey, butter & sugsr in saucepan

& heat slowly till boiling. Add almonds & allow to cool to room temp

Spread over cooled dough in pan using back of spoon or spatula

Bake~ 30mins till dough is firm, toothpick comes out clean & topping is caramelised

Cool 10 mins then run a knife round inside of pan to free topping. Unmold the cake & remove parchment. Cool right side up on wire rack


mix 1/4C milk with cornstarch & whisk in the egg yolks

Heat remaining milk with sugar, stirring to dissolve & bring to a boil.

Whisk hot milk into yolks, return to saucepan over low heat & whisk constantly till mixture boils & thickens. Allow to boil ~30secs.

Remove from heat & whisk in vanilla & kirsch

Add butter one small piece at a time & beat after each.

Pour into a bowl & allow to cool with plastic wrap pressed onto surface to prevent a skin forming. Let cool ~2 hours in fridge.

Remove from fridge, whisk till smooth.

Split cake thru middle & put bottom half on a serving platter. Spread pastry cream over this.

Cut top of cake into 10-12 wedges & re-assemble on top of filling.

Serve soon after filling or can keep in a cool place a couple of hours.

And that's it!

It was almost too much effort to type, lt alone make the cake!

If there is anything that looks wrong, let me know. I would think you could use any brioche recipe but this is the one in the book. Patsy


Oldcampcook's picture

Thank you, ma'am.  Copied, saved and printed.

Kirsch - I had forgotten about this - a key ingredient in Black Forest Cherry Cake, one of my favorite desserts.


Thanks again for all the typing.  I appreciate it.


baltochef's picture

Thanks to Patsy fo providing a more authentic Bienenstich recipe than the one I worked with back in 1984..I an going to search for my spring form pan, which I hardly ever use, and make this early next week..Also, thanks to Bob, and everyone else that contributed to this thread..


Corinaesq's picture

I don't know if anyone even cares about this subject, as I am rather late to the table, but my parents are both German, and I have many German relatives, all of whom are very good bakers. I have never heard of or seen a Bienenstich with a streusel topping, and really, what would be the point? So many other baked goods have it, and Bienenstich would be nothing special (in my humble opinion) if that's how it was made. The only way I have ever seen or heard of it being made is with a rich yeast dough, and with a lovely honey-cream-butter and sliced almonds mixture on top that bakes up to taste a bit like a Florentine. And while I have seen many recipes with a vanilla pastry cream for the middle, I myself have always made a German buttercream, which is simply softened butter mixed with vanilla pudding or custard. It is a very decadent dessert, no matter how you slice it! And speaking of slicing, whether you are making a round cake or a rectangular one, when you split the yeast cake like a torte, you cut the almond-topped portion into serving size pieces before placing atop the bottom layer and cream filling. That way, the custard or buttercream doesn't ooze out of the cake when you cut it!

Corinaesq's picture

Here's the easy way to make German buttercream: 

1 can of Thank You brand vanilla pudding or 1 package COOK AND SERVE vanilla pudding (NOT instant)

1 tsp. clear vanilla extract (important to use clear; otherwise your buttercream is a funny color. If you can't get clear extract, just leave it out)

2 sticks of UNSALTED butter, very soft (seriously, DO NOT use salted butter or any butter substitutions or the "buttercream" will taste awful)

NOTE: If you are using cook and serve pudding, you must let it cool to just a bit warmer than room temperature. Otherwise you can use the pudding straight from the can.


Cream the butter with electric mixer until very smooth and creamy.  Add extract, if using.  Add room temperature pudding, one tablespoon at a time, until incorporated into the butter. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. If you go too quickly, or if your butter and/or pudding are too cold, your buttercream will curdle. Use low speed on your mixer at all times. Scrape sides of bowl periodically with spatula to make sure all pudding has been incorporated into the butter.

As I said in my last post, spread the cream between the layers of the yeast cake. Cut the top layer (the one with the crunchy almond topping) into serving-size pieces, then place pieces on top of cream (This is probably a good idea even if you're going to use streusel as a topping, just in case you're cutting the cake when the buttercream has warmed a bit). Refrigerate or place in the freezer until the buttercream is quite firm. Serve cold, if possible.

Corinaesq's picture

Hi, cookinmyhouse! I haven't made Patsy's recipe, but I can tell by the ingredients and the method that it would be a very good version.  The topping is what I believe is the authentic one (not streusel), and the yeast cake will be moist if you don't overbake it. I would note that the almond topping should be no more than slightly warm to the touch when you spread it on the risen dough before baking. If you want a richer dough, you could easily add another half stick of butter (4 Tbs.) and 2 more eggs, but you might need to increase the flour a bit. You want a very smooth, soft and shiny dough. It might be very sticky to the touch, but you don't necessarily have to form it into a shape. You can sort of "pour" the dough into the prepared springform pan (and with that much butter and eggs, you might not have to use parchment, although I would recommend buttering the pan well, with real, unsalted butter).

I recently participated in a professional bread-baking class at King Arthur Flour in Vermont, and the Master Baker instructor made a FANTASTIC version of bienenstich, which I gather is his own invention. He made the cake with a laminated brioche, which is a VERY rich brioche (much butter and eggs), then after cooling the dough overnight, it was laminated in the same way as croissant dough - butter placed in the center of the dough, then folded and re-rolled over and over to produce a RIDICULOUSLY rich and buttery cake. He uses something he calls Diplomat cream, which is pastry cream (like the one in Patsy's recipe) lightened with whipped cream. I made it for my family and they were crazy about it. In fact, my German father, who is not prone to glowing compliments, declared that I am the best baker he knows (and he's known many professional German bakers in his life). A big moment for me, I can tell you!

I don't intend to make that version very often. It is at least a 2-day operation, and a great deal of hands-on work. I think I'll make a typical brioche dough, but I'll use the Diplomat cream from now on (slightly less rich than German buttercream). Good luck on Saturday!

Corinaesq's picture

Always happy to be of help to a fellow baker! I hope you'll post photos of your masterpiece!

fenchel2c's picture

Log on to and click on recipes.  Enter Bienenstich and you'll find 28 recipes and many variations.  Bienenstich Oma is a simple recipe with the simplest of toppings.

hanseata's picture

As fairly recent German import this discussion made me chuckle quite a bit. Bienenstich is a  very traditional pastry that is being found in every German bakery at any given time. A rich, but humble staple that definitely is not made with any such fancy ingredients as Kirsch (shudder - though I love boozy cakes).

Streusel definitely are never used as a topping for Bienenstich - that is a totally different piece of cake (Streuselkuchen, no cream in that one, but often fruity fillings).

A Bienenstich with laminated dough? What about a pound cake croissant? It might taste fabulous - but it's not Bienenstich, but something entirely different.

And no German (or, for that matter, French or Italian) would ever use more than just a pinch of salt in sweet pastry, if any salt at all!

Dr. Oetker's Baking Book, THE German standard book on baking (an equivalent to "The Joy of Baking") has this classic recipe for Bienenstich (in my opinion exactly what you get in a bakery):



375 g/13 oz all-purpose flour

1 package dry yeast

50 g/2 oz sugar

2 tsp. vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)

1 pinch salt

1 egg

200 ml/7 fl oz milk, lukewarm

50 g/2 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled



200 g/7 oz unsalted butter

100 g/3.5 oz sugar

2 tsp. vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)

1 - 2 tbsp. honey

4 tbsp. whipping or heavy cream

200 g/7 oz blanched, slivered almonds



2 packages vanilla pudding powder

750 ml/3 cups whole milk

100 g/3.5 oz sugar

100 g/3.5 oz butter


To make the dough:

Sift flour into a mixing bowl and carefully mix with the dry yeast. Add sugar, vanilla sugar, salt, egg, milk and melted butter. With the dough hook of a hand mixer work mixture into a dough, first at low speed, then at full speed for about 5 minutes. Cover dough and keep it in a warm place until it has visibly increased in size.


To make the topping:

Gently heat the butter, sugar, vanilla sugar, honey and cream in a pan, stirring continuously. Allow to boil for a short time. Add the slivered almonds and leave to cool, stirring occasionally.


Preheat the oven to 200 - 220 C/400 - 425 F.

Lightly dust the risen dough with flour, remove it from the bowl and briefly knead it again on the work surface. Roll out the dough in a greased 38 x 28 cm/15 x 11 inch cake pan. Spread topping evenly over the dough and leave it to rise until it has visibly increased in size.

Bake cake at 200 - 220 C/400 - 425 F for 12 - 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Let cake cool on a wire rack.


To make the filling:

Prepare vanilla pudding according to the instructions on the package, adding the sugar but not using more than 750 ml milk. Immediately stir in the butter and leave to cool, stirring occasionally.


To assemble:

When the cake has cooled, cut it across in halves. Then cut each half horizontally in two layers. Spread the filling over the lower layers and place upper halves on top.


Don't let the bees sting you,













Corinaesq's picture

Hello, Karin! I quite agree that no self-respecting German would ever put salt in sweet pastry, and for the most part, I agree wholeheartedly. And for my German pastries, I do not add salt. I mean, butter cookies with salt??? Yuck.

I'm sure I have that Dr. Oetker baking book, plus at least a dozen more (a couple are even in German). And I happen to prefer to make Bienenstich with the leaner yeast dough (so I can justify eating it more often!), but I have to say I prefer that awesome Diplomat Cream to just plain-old vanilla pudding or pastry cream. For that matter, I prefer the German buttercream to either of the latter! 

For all of you history buffs out there, legend has it that Bienenstich was created by 15th-century bakers who, after successfuly fighting off a raid from neighboring villagers by launching beehives at them, baked a version of this cake in celebration. But as my Master Baker teacher pointed out, where would 15-century bakers have come by so much butter and sugar? Perhaps the cream filling came later....

hanseata's picture

I have to admit, Corinaesq, that I've never made a Bienenstich, yet, it is very sweet and I have other favorite German cakes, like German Cheesecake, Apfelkuchen, Kapuzinertorte, Pflaumenkuchen, Apfelstrudel etc.

This is the German Buttercream I use for Bremer Kapuzinertorte (Capuchin Torte), a recipe from a German Konditor (master pastry chef). This is the amount for a torte filling, for a sheet cake it probably would have to be doubled.

Though I usually do not care for shortening at all, here, with half butter/half shortening you don't taste it. (German Buttercream can also be made in a bain marie, especially in summer when more stability is desirable.)


125 g butter
125 g shortening
55 g castor sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract

With hand held mixer, cream together butter and shortening until foamy. Alternately add powdered sugar and eggs and beat at high speed until foamy. Add vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.



Corinaesq's picture

And how would a bain marie provide more stability for the buttercream? Wouldn't the butter melt? Or do you use the bain marie to warm the eggs only?

hanseata's picture

Corinaesq, Capuchin Torte (Kapuzinertorte) is a wonderful torte that I had when I visited a friend in Bremen/Germany. After looking through some recipes I came up with an own version. It is definitely as good as the original one!

Here's the link:

Pastry chefs in Germany use the bain-marie method to make buttercream. Yes, it's only egg and sugar that are first whisked in a bain-marie, until warm (but not boiling), then you remove them from the heat and continue beating until the egg mixture is cooled down and creamy. Add butter/shortening mixture and mix both until creamy.

Since German buttercream is not as stiff as American one, this version doesn't melt in hot weather.

In the Capuchin Torte you can use either method.




Corinaesq's picture

Glad to hear that the dinner party was such a success! What type of filling did you use? The pastry cream, German buttercream, or something else? Check out the FAQs on this site for tips on posting pictures...

BellesAZ's picture

I have no idea what you're talking about, but this cake that I cannot spell OR pronounce sounds just heavenly... I would love to taste any version!  And of course, see pictures. 

hanseata's picture

A little German lesson: Bienenstich is pronounced:

Bee-nan-shtich (the ch in this case is pronounced like the "h" in "huge" or "human").



BellesAZ's picture

That's easy for you to say, Karin.  I'll practice my German!

AnnaInMD's picture

like the sh in shine ...   but then I am from Thueringen :)


hanseata's picture

Easterners (I refrain from saying the "O" word) don't know how to speak - but Thüringer Bratwurst and Thüringer Klösse rock...



hanseata's picture

my th-s and r-s right all the time, but at least my accent is not as heavy as Schwarzeneggers...


Franko's picture

You Karin, I can understand perfectly.....Arnie, not so much.


hanseata's picture

Cookinmyhouse, you did a great job merging the best from different recipes into an own new one!