Bienenstich is a German cake made primarily out of sweet bread, vanilla custard filling and honey-glazed sliced-almond topping. Bienenstich means “bee sting” in German. The naming of this food item, traditionally eaten as dessert but also eaten as a snack with tea or coffee, denotes its manner of origin, and there are varying accounts.
The most popular and perhaps the most plausible account of Bienenstich’s origin involves a German baker encountering a bee when he was trying out a new cake recipe. The bee was possibly attracted to the cake’s honey topping, and the baker was stung as a result. He thus named his cake after the incident.
Another legend attributes the origin of Bienenstich not to just one German baker, but several of them. In the 15th century, a group of bakers staved off invaders from a neighboring village by flinging beehives at them. To celebrate, they baked the Bienenstich prototype.
Bienenstich is made in three tiers, from bottom to top: cake dough, filling and topping. While the oven is set to preheat, flour, butter or oil, sugar, salt, eggs, milk or water are mixed in a large bowl to create the cake dough. Some people choose to add yeast to the mixture, while others omit it. After mixing, the dough is kneaded for a few minutes before being spread in a lightly greased pan. Then it is set aside.
The filling is usually made from mixing vanilla and pudding mix. Some people, however, choose to use vanilla extract, butter, sugar and milk instead. Either way, the mixture is cooked in a saucepan until it becomes thick. Then the filling is spread in an even manner over the cake dough.
Bienenstich’s topping is prepared by mixing sliced almonds, honey and butter in another saucepan. The honey and butter go in first, then the almonds when the mixture turns a very light-gold color. After that, the topping is spread over the cake dough. Some people prefer to just heat the honey and butter, then sprinkle the almonds over the topping after it has been introduced to the dough. The cake is then put in the oven and left to bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until it achieves a light golden-brown color and the topping begins to produce bubbles.