Bienenstich Recipe

Lovers of pastry will notice that bee sting cake bears a striking resemblance to tarte Tropézienne. That makes sense since tarte Tropézienne is really a German cake adapted to French resort town living. What are the differences? The bee sting cake filling isn’t as rich, being more custard-y than buttercream-y. Then there’s the matter of the topping: a caramel and sliced almond combo that gives the appearance of a mass of bees on a honeycomb. Here’s what you need:

For the Cake

1 recipe brioche dough
cake syrup if desired, flavored with 1/2 teaspoon each if almond and vanilla extract

For the Topping

1.5 ounces (2 1/2 tablespoons) sugar
1.5 ounces (1 /2 tablespoons) honey
1.5 ounces (2 tablespoons) butter
1.5 ounces (1/4 cup) sliced almonds

For the Filling

1 1/2 cups pastry cream
1 1/2 ounces (1/3 cup) heavy cream


Prepare the brioche according to instructions. Roll the finished dough out to a thickness of about 1/2 inch, then trim it into a disk about 8 inches in diameter. Save the remaining dough, you’ll have about 7 ounces, for some têtes-de-brioche or some other purpose (if you can’t think of anything right away you can freeze it for up to two months). Put the disk on a parchment-lined baking sheet and paint it with egg wash.

Right away, make the topping. Combine the sugar, honey, and butter in a small saucepan. Place it over medium heat dab bring it to the boil for about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, let sit for for about a minute, then stir in the almonds. Pour the topping onto the brioche circle and spread it out evenly.

Allow the topped brioche to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours until puffy. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. When the topped brioche has risen bake it for 12-15 minutes until golden. Allow it to cool completely before assembling the cake.

Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold it into the pastry cream. Slice the cooled brioche horizontally into two pieces. Apply the filling (pipe it in if you wish) and put on the top. Serve immediately or refrigerate it for up to a day. Remove it from the refrigerator a minimum of half an hour before serving.

27 thoughts on “Bienenstich Recipe”

    1. Hey Leah!

      It’s the butter in that recipe. I’ve noticed that a lot of bee sting cake recipes call for more caramel-like top, but as you observed when you bake caramel it runs. This one will stay on top!

      I think.

      – Joe

    2. We make a similar kind of topping for “tosca-cake” here in Finland and usually the topping has some wheat flour (maybe 1 tsp for the amounts used in this recipe.) That way the topping stays on top. (Though in toscacake the cake part is baked first and then when the cake is almost ready, the topping is added and then baked until ready.)

      1. oooooo, Yukiko, i’d never heard of Tosca Cake! i will definitely have to give it a try! and i don’t see why i couldn’t use the same method of baking then adding the topping with smitten kitchen’s bienenstich.

  1. Joe,
    Is there an altitude adjustment? I usually cook jam to 208 or 210 for a great set here in Denver. Naturally, I learned this the hard way!!!

    Thanks….BTW the chocolate babka is out of this altitude adjustment..pure perfection. Made it on a cold nasty spring day in the Rockies..

    1. Hey Carla!

      Indeed there is an altitude adjustment for candy. Subtract two degrees from the stated temperature for every 100 feet you are above sea level!


      – Joe

        1. Oops, yes. Forgot a zero, which will make the difference between cooking a syrup 220 degrees Fahrenheit and 220 degrees Kelvin. Sorry about that, Carla!

          – Joe

  2. Ah! I can sense another life-long friendship on the horizon!

    Thanks for the introduction, Joe!

  3. Can I put the caramel topped dough in an 8 inch pan? I think it might make for a more symmetrical, less messy bienenstich. I have trouble getting my pastries to look neat (although they do taste good).

    1. Hey Ellen!

      You certainly can do that, although you won’t get the browning around the sides that you normally would. It’s one of those trade-off dealio’s! 😉

      – Joe

  4. I make a similar cake that I got from an old Pillsbury Bakeoff cookbook. Instead of putting the almonds on top, they have you bake it as an upside-down cake with the almonds and honey syrup on the bottom of the pan. (much like you do with sticky buns) Worked great! Any almonds that stick to the pan can scraped out and placed back on the pan. I didn’t have that problem but a few did.

    1. That’s good thinking, Susan! I like it very much.

      Thanks for the tip!

      – Joe

  5. Is there some trick to cutting and serving this? I suppose you could also make small individual sized ones.

    1. Hm…good question. Yes I think you can certainly make smaller ones if you like. Otherwise I think you just need to contend with a little bee-wing slippage.

      – Joe

  6. I’m always surprised by your timing. Right before you posted this recipe, I was scouring the internet trying to pull together a decent recipe for this cake. The one I tried first wasn’t very good, but I finally got around to making yours and it’s fantastic, as usual. The texture is wonderful, I’m used to my breads coming out pretty hard. Thank you so much! I love your site!

    1. Love that, Samantha! Thanks for getting back to me with the success story. I love those!


      – Joe

  7. Hi Joe. Is there any way you could incorporate a recipe convertor embedded in to the pages for converting to grams and kilos ?
    I love the recipes but I’m a grams & kilos guy

    1. Hey Les!

      Anything’s possible technically…do I have the money to get it done is the question! 😉


      – Joe

  8. Hi Joe! This looks amazing and I can’t wait to make it. One quick question. You mentioned the brioche dough is best if made a few days in advance. Should I make the dough… Let it sit for a few days, then bake it? Or bake it 2-3 days before assembling it? Sorry… I’m a pastry novice!

    1. Hey Jeannie!

      That’s a great question, thanks for asking it because these sorts of little ambiguities can wreck a valiant baking effort! What I mean is to let the unbaked dough ripen in the fridge for a few days for optimum flavor. Then shape it and bake it into these big rounds. Thanks again!


      – Joe

  9. Thank you for a fantastic bienenstich recipe! I had never had this treat before, but my boyfriend grew up in Germany and specifically requested this for his birthday. I spent several days scouring the internet for a suitable recipe and eventually settled on this one. I liked the idea that it was baked without a cake pan; it felt more in line with my boyfriends memory of the cake being shorter/smaller than traditional American cakes. I actually did a “trial run” of this cake two weeks in advance because it looked somewhat intimidating but I wanted to incorporate all of your suggestions for maximizing the flavor. I fully expected my first attempt to be somewhat imperfect, but your instructions are excellent! It turned out fabulous, and my coworkers raved over it. The only thing I did differently when I made it the second time was applying the cake syrup a bit more liberally (I was super careful the first time because I was terrified of making it soggy). My boyfriend absolutely loved it! Thank you! I look forward to trying more of your recipes. Now that you’ve introduced me to the joys of brioche I’m eyeballing that cinnamon roll recipe 😉

  10. Hi,
    I’m new to baking and I just made this tasty treat. It doesn’t look as good as yours but it tasted great. 1 quick question, my dough didn’t rise as much as I wanted. How get I get it to rise more. Should I add more yeast?

    Also on a side note, I have a family gluten intolerant so I made a second cake with gluten free flour and it came out pretty good. It wasn’t as good as the regular cake but it was definitely better than a lot of GF cakes ive had

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