Making Bee Sting Cake (Bienenstich)

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.

43 thoughts on “Making Bee Sting Cake (Bienenstich)”

  1. I was a little disappointed in my first try, it was good but not as good as I remembered. I was thinking it was probably me idealizing the past but then I read this & thought you may be on to something with giving the dough 3 days to develop. If nothing else it gives me an excuse to make another one & thats not bad!

    1. Hey Frankly!

      Sorry to hear that it didn’t quite live up to your memory! Let me know what alterations you make if you do it again because I’ll be curious. If I may ask: what do you think the differences are between the old country version and this one?

      Top-quality butter also makes a difference in the brioche, if that was an issue. Just an incremental way to improve it. 😉


      – Joe

      1. It didn’t seem as moist as I remember. Part of that may be issues left over from throat cancer or faulty memory. I was even thinking of brushing a tiny amount of amaretto.

        It will probably be a bit as we have our Easter stuff to get over first 😉 Speaking of Easter, have you ever run across Pizza Chena, sometimes called “Easter Pie”. I have finally been reconnected with a recipe but won’t make it this weekend. There is a whole story there but thats for a later time. Have a great weekend!

        1. I didn’t know you were a fellow cancer survivor, Frankly. Well done! My guess is that the one you remember did indeed have cake syrup added. I made that addition to the recipe.

          And I have heard of pizza chena. Seems to me it’s similar to torta di bietola which I made on the site a few years ago, but I’m not completely sure!


          – Joe

    2. Bina’s thought about a little cake syrup on the brioche might be the difference I’m thinking, Frankly. Maybe try that next time. What do you think?

      – Joe

      1. Yeah, I think that torta is in the right area. It differently was pizza dough crust & was taller but it wouldn’t be hard to get there from your start.

        I will put on some sort of syrup on the next one.

        I had throat cancer a little over 2 years ago & just recently started to get saliva back, taste is still uneven.

        1. The important thing is that you’re still on the right side of non-slip mat! Congratulations!

          Let me know if you try the bienenstich again. I think you’ll find that the syrup makes a big difference. Cheers,

          – Joe

  2. Can I just say…. That is Bee utiful! But Seriously! Now I’m going to think about how many bees it took to make that cake. Then, I’m going to say a little bee prayer to thank them all for their honey that we so greedily devour.


    1. Sounds like a good idea to me, Eva. Who shows gratitude to bees? Might be nice to start! 😉

      – Joe

  3. Hi Joe,
    Thanks so much for doing this recipe. I have to say yours looks much better than mine did. Do I understand correctly that you pour the hot (or warm) honey topping on to the rising disc of dough? I waited till mine cooled and had to use a spoon to drop blobs of it on top. Also the ones I remember from Austria had a very moist crumb – almost as if they brushed the cooked brioche with syrup like a Rum Baba. Have you ever heard of this being done or were they cheating? At any rate the Bienenstich was enthusiastically received by the family and we decided that even the baby could have a taste of the pastry cream. (It was her ninth month birthday) I am baking another one for the Easter weekend following your instructions above. You’ve scored a real hit with this one. Thanks again. Happy Easter

    1. Hey Bina!

      Funny, I was thinking that a little brush of syrup was probably a common technique in the old country. I’ll add that to the post as an option. But yes, the idea is to pour the warm (it shouldn’t be hot hot) syrup on top of the brioche just after you shape it. You let it rise that way and bake. I’m glad to hear it was a hit. I made that big one for a group of Spaniards the other night and they went wild for it. One of my neighbors who gets to taste a lot of what I make told me it was his favorite of all the things he’d tried. So…pretty serious reactions. I’ll make this again for sure.

      Let me know how the next one goes, Bina. Look for some revised instructions on the tutorial a little later today.


      – Joe

  4. This looks delightful! I have a goofy smile on my face and that’s not my usual reaction to baked goods. I pinned this baby! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Beth! Let me know if you decide to try it. I think you’ll like it!


      – Joe

  5. Seriously considering this as my husband’s birthday cake in May. Trick is that we will be traveling 8 hours for a mini vacation. Might I prepare all the components at home, then transport and assemble? For best results, how long can I hold that baked but not yet split brioche? Thanks for all you do, Joe!

    1. Hey!

      That’s a good idea. The brioche should be as fresh ass possible, though if you apply cake syrup to it a little staling won’t be noticed. The pastry cream is another story, since it’s a custard you probably don’t want to keep it warm for 8 hours. Can you make it when you arrive?

      And it’s my very great pleasure!

      – Joe

  6. I’ve read all the comments above. It seems a little cake syrup is in order to make it more moist. What receipe do you recommend for the syrup? If I read correctly above you put it on the dough and let rise?
    I’m so excited to make one!

    1. Hey Martha!

      There’s a link to the cake syrup recipe in the recipe post. Have a look, it’s very easy stuff to make.


      – Joe

  7. I forgot to ask……you said the brioche is better if it is a few days old. You mean to make the dough and not cook it for awhile, correct?

    1. Oh yes, good point, Martha!

      Yes, the brioche is better when the un-baked dough has ripened in the fridge for a few days!


      – Joe

  8. Joe, I froze my brioche dough after giving a couple days in the fridge to ripen. Is there a proper procedure to follow to bring it back to useable life?

    1. Hey Thames! Just thaw it overnight in the fridge then proceed as normal!

      – Joe

  9. Hi Joe,

    Hope you had a good weekend. I tried the cake again with syrup as per your revised instructions – with one addition. I added a little amaretto to the syrup to accentuate the almond taste. It was a huge hit! May I respectfully suggest that everyone try it this way at least once. I know I keep saying this but thank you so much for doing this recipe.

  10. Hi joe

    Love the beesting cake. The added amaretto is a must. I also did this with a buttercream filling for my son who wont touch custards etc. It went in about 10mins. The whole cake that is lol

    Great bake


    1. Hehe…yeah I had a similar experience. Thanks for the check-in. Make another one soon!


      – Joe

  11. I have an original German “Dr. Oetker” Baking Book. The Bienenstich Kuchen is one of our favorite recipes in there. The combination of the topping ingredients are a little different though: cream, butter, sugar, vanilla sugar, honey, almonds. Oftentimes we will just make it without the filling. It is always nice and moist and delicious!

  12. Yum..Its my favorite..but it looks so hard to it? Can you please email me the recipe anyways?? I will try. Thanks

      1. A new member of this site, I have been to Germany many times I have friends who live in
        Dieringhausen. I have never had Beesting cake.
        I am going to try making it.

        1. Hey Loretta!

          Let me know how yours goes — I think you’ll like it. It’s become the new favorite on my street!

          Cheers and keep in touch!

          – Joe

  13. As with all your recipes, the pictures give me the courage to try. I always have a little brioche dough in the freezer, so I thawed it, rolled it out, cut out tiny circles, followed the awesome clear directions, and pretty soon I had a whole bunch of bite sized versions. I took them to a party and now they are all gone. These were wonderful. Thank you for showing us how!

    1. Woohoo! Fabulous work, Jane! Aren’t those things easy? I posted not long ago that they’re the new favorite of all my neighbors. Who knew such a simple thing could be such a crowd pleaser? Leave it to those Germans, they know how to engineer. 😉

      Cheers and congratulations!

      – Joe

  14. Hi Joe!

    I just made this for my German boss’ birthday. I said “Give me a challenge!” He said “Okay, Bienenstich!” I said “I know what that IS! I can do that!” It looked fabulous at first! (Dare I say as good as yours?) I think my pastry cream/whipped cream mixture was a little too soft as it squished out the sides a bit before it was even cut. I was thinking maybe I should have stabilized the whipped cream with a bit of gelatin. Any tips for improving the sturdiness of the creamy goodness?


      1. Hi Joe, it wasn’t thin, but a spoon wouldn’t stand up in it. The pastry cream recipe I used was the one linked to in the Bienenstich recipe, Pastry Cream 2. Maybe next time I should try your standard pastry cream? It was wonderfully delicious just the same. Have a wonderful Christmas with the Pastry Family! I wish you much peace and joy this season!


        1. Hm. Interesting. Perhaps the whipped cream wasn’t stiff enough. I dunno. But yes, pastry cream 1 will deliver a firmer product and solve the problem. Thanks for the note!

          – Joe

  15. I am allergic to almonds and hazelnuts, and my sister is allergic to all tree nuts really want to make this cake .. what can I replace the nuts with ??

    1. Hey Kammie Sue!

      You can just leave the nuts out entirely and it won’t effect the cake itself very much. For a crunch on top you could always use some soy nuts or nut-free granola…any grain flake would work. Sprinkle them on after the bread has baked while the topping is still hot and sticky!

      Cheers and let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

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