Bienenstich is a delicious German dessert traditionally served during the holidays. To me, the cake is more like a pastry and the cream filling it light and delicious. I make this dessert in 3 different parts. Just a warning, this dessert is somewhat complex and has many steps. Anyone can do it. Just read the recipe carefully and make sure you have all the ingredients before you begin. Frohe Feiertage (happy holidays, I think???)
~ The Pastry Cream ~
2 eggs + 1 yolk
1½ cup half & half
½ cup sugar
3 T flour
¼ tsp salt
½ cup of whipping cream (you won't need this till the very end)
¼ cup whole milk
1 T honey
1½ tsp active yeast
1¾ cup bread flour divided
2 T sugar
½ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter softened
~ The Topping ~
¼ cup sugar
½ cup honey
1 stick of butter (I like using salted for the topping)
2 cups almond slivers
½ tsp vanilla
I prefer to make the pastry cream one day then the cake the next. I just like splitting the work, you can do both on same day just make sure your pastry cream has time to completely chill.
This pastry cream recipe is the same recipe for every custard type filling that I need. First, in small bowl mix flour into small amount of milk, whisk until smooth and lumps are gone. Add eggs. Whisk until eggs are well beaten. Next, in a saucepan heat sugar, half & half, and salt until almost boiling. Whisk continuously to avoid burning. Temper eggs by adding ½ cup of milk mixture to eggs. This step keeps the eggs from becoming scrambled eggs. Whisking constantly, in a steady stream, add tempered eggs to warm mix mixture. Continue cooking until mixture will coat back of a spoon. Add vanilla. Transfer mixture to bowl with lid. Cover cream with plastic wrap making sure wrap touches the cream. This will prevent a film from forming. Refrigerate over night.
The Dough (a.k.a brioche dough, same recipe) In a small microwaveable bowl combine milk and 1 tablespoon honey and heat until it registers between 110 degrees F to 115 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Pour the mixture into bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle over yeast. Let mixture stand for 10 minutes, until yeast is creamy. If mixture is to warm it will kill the yeast, not warm enough, your yeast will not work.
Transfer bowl to mixer stand and attach paddle attachment. While mixing at low speed, gradually add eggs, sugar, and salt, and mix until blended. Gradually add all but 2 tablespoons of flour. Mix at medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Dough should not stick to sides of bowl; if it does, add some of all of remaining 2 tablespoons of bread flour until dough cleans sides of bowl. You may need more or less depending on the season. Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing at medium speed until it is blended into dough. (Dough will be very soft.) Transfer dough to a work surface and knead by hand a few times to ensure that butter is completely incorporated into dough. Shape dough into a ball and transfer it to a medium buttered bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours, until it has doubled in volume.
Punch dough down to deflate it, and knead it a few times. Return dough to bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or up to 12 hours). Dough should have doubled in volume. If it hasn't, let it stand at room temperature until it has.
Butter bottom and sides of a 9" spring-form pan. Shape dough into a ball and arrange it, smooth side up, in center of pan. Flatten ball gently with your palm until it covers bottom of pan. Cover pan and let dough rise until it is puffed, about 1 hour.
While dough is doing its thing make topping. Add sugar, honey, and butter to small saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and almond. Just let it hang out while dough rises.
After dough has risen completely, pour almond mixture on top of dough. Position a rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F about 20 minutes before dough is ready.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan, set on a wire rack, for 15 minutes. Remove cake from pan and cool cake on the wire rack completely.
To Assemble ~ With serrated knife, cut cake in half forming 2 layers. Remove custard from refrigerator and beat vigorously with a rubber spatula until smooth. In bowl of an electric mixer, using whisk attachment, beat heavy cream at high speed until it forms medium-stiff peaks. Gently fold whipped cream into custard. Spread ccream over bottom layer of cake (it will be a thick layer). Top with other cake layer. Sprinkle top of cake very lightly with confectioners' sugar and serve immediately or refrigerate for up to an hour before serving.