The whole thing disappeared off my platter in about 35 seconds yesterday, if you need an indication of how your friends will receive your bee sting cake. I went out to deliver a slice to a next-door neighbor and shortly two or three others emerged out of doorways and cars. They gobbled down the slices I gave them, then did the same with others that I’d intended for their spouses. “My wife needs to learn to be more social,” my neighbor Charles said through a mouthful. “Let this be a lesson to her!” What was that we were saying about drones below?
Start yours by preparing your components. The brioche will develop the best flavor if it’s made two or three days ahead. The pastry cream should be made the day before it has time to set up. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board.
Apply the pin and roll it in one direction…
…then the other…
…until it’s a round roughly 12 inches wide and a little more than half an inch thick.
I use a pot lid that’s 8 inches across to measure it out.
I then cut a circle with a pizza cutter reserving the rest either for a second smaller bienenstich or for I dunno…a few rolls. Brioche never goes uneaten around our house. Once you trim it your round should weigh about ten or eleven ounces.
I bake mine free-form though a lot of people use well-greased 9″ cake pans, which give you a taller cake. Either way is good for me.
Once the rolling and cutting is done, turn your attention to the topping. Put the butter, sugar and honey in a pan and bring it to the boil. Hold it there for 30 seconds, about until you start to smell beeswax. At that point take it off the heat and let it rest about a minute.
Add the almond slices and stir the whole mess together.
While it’s warm apply some of it — you may not use it all — to the top of the cake. You don’t need to spread topping all the way out to the edges since some of the topping will drip down as the cake rises and/or bakes. Conversely, don’t pile too much up in the center or the cake will have a hard time rising beneath it.
Use a brush to pull some of the syrup out to the edge. This will keep the brioche from drying out during the 1 to 1 1/2-hour proofing (during which you’ll preheat your oven to 375 desires Fahrenheit).
You want it puffy but not completely airy. When you poke it you want the impression of your finger to last for 1-2 seconds.
Bake it until it’s a deep caramelly brown, about 25 minutes. Having been a beekeeper I can tell you that this does look remarkably like a hive frame busy with bees.
Let the cake cool completely, about an hour, before cutting. Use a long serrated knife to cut a shallow slit around the middle of the brioche…
…then just keep rotating the layer, cutting a little deeper all the while until you’re all the way through.
Remove the top and set it off to one side. Now is the time to brush on some cake syrup if you like. Don’t go nuts lest you make the cake soggy, but a few tablespoons dabbed around on each half adds some nice flavor. Let it soak in for a few minutes with the cut sides of the brioche facing up.
Now then. As with any pastry that has a very soft, creamy center it helps to cut the top to size before you assemble. This way all the filling won’t gush out the sides when you slice it. These slices may look like they were cut poorly, but that’s a trick of the lens. In point of fact they are absolutely, perfectly equal. I never make mistakes like that.
Now fold together your pastry cream and whipped cream and load the whole mess into a pastry bag without a collar.
Pipe tall blobs all around the edge. The one on the left there looks short and squat but it is actually very tall. These new-fangled German lenses are so darn unreliable.
Pipe filling into the center any old way…
…then replace the top pieces.
Slide your finished cake onto a serving platter and you’re ready to serve. Or you can hold the cake in the fridge for a day or so. If you plan on holding it for more than a few hours you’ll want to make sure to use stabilized whipped cream.
Slice at the table and serve to your wide-eyes guests.