cakes and tarts

Bienenstich. Literally translated it means bee sting cake and this cake is definitely one of my favourites! The bakery next to my parents house had an amazing bienenstich and made in a very traditional Northern German way: A soft and airy yeast based sheet cake topped with toasted almond brittle and filled with a sweetened whipped cream. I really, really loved it.

There’s a long story about how this cake was named and it dates almost 500 years back. Can you imagine a cake recipe that old? As you can guess from my description, this traditional cake recipe isn’t easily veganised. Especially if you insist on finding a substitute for the whipped cream filling – which I never found. (We have vegan whipped cream. But the texture usually isn’t sturdy enough for my taste. The cream is too light and most of the time it is too sweet, too.) There are many different bienenstich recipes and lots of them are made with a custard filling. But the Northern German Cream Cake snob that I am, I never wanted to settle for them. But you know what? There is a life after cream just as there is a life after cheese.

And still it took me some time to figure out how to veganise this cake so it would match my own standards. I used baking powder instead of yeast, to save some time. But don’t let this fool you. It’s still a time consuming recipe. If you don’t want to spend all day making this, prepare the cake a day in advance and make the filling and topping the next morning. Also I wanted to make the topping with coconut oil instead of margarine.  But coconut oil often is too fatty and it can ruin your results, especially, if you use it as a base for caramel. I found that a combination of plant based cream* and a little bit of coconut oil works just as well as margarine. (For those of you who cannot eat coconut oil: don’t worry, use margarine.)

Traditional bienenstich doesn’t have a fruit layer. But gooseberry bienenstich is a popular variety in Germany. And since my generous neighbour had handed me a bag full of my favourite frozen berries, I knew immediately what to do with them! If you cannot find gooseberries, there are two alternatives: Either you leave that layer and go for a classic version of bienenstich. Or you substitute another sturdy berry. Black- or redcurrants would be great, blueberries might work, blackberries will be awesome, too.

Okay, and now that I’ve written down my notes and thoughts for this recipe, I need to get something off my chest that’s been sitting there for quite some time. And I don’t really know how to address it without sounding like an idiot. It has to do with the fact that people keep asking me about making my recipes with dairy products. And about others leaving comments on how they are going to make my recipes with dairy products.

Well, what can I say? I know you don’t mean any harm. I know you don’t want to annoy me. But if you ask me like that I’m gonna say no. And if you tell me about your changes, I am not going to encourage you. Because from my perspective dairy sucks. Otherwise I wouldn’t be vegan. Otherwise I would just stuff my bienenstich with a ton of thick whipped cream and be done with it. Instead, I spend a lot of time researching non-vegan cake recipes. I think about how to substitute all the dairy, butter and eggs, and often there is a lot of tweaking. It’s difficult to get similar results with completely different ingredients.

Bienenstich Vegan {Vanilla Cake with Almond Brittle, Vanilla Custard, and Gooseberies}

Of course there are many people who have other beliefs. I do myself live with vegetarians. Also, some of my friends, who are meat eaters, read my blog. And so do other non-vegans. I truly appreciate that you spend your time on here and even consider trying my recipes. If you cannot have soy or coconut oil or any other ingredient I like to use, I am sure we can figure out how to make the recipe work for you. But if you wanna put the dairy back in, what’s the point in coming to my blog? Instead you should probably ask omnivores for their kick-ass original versions, look up non-vegan blogs for German recipes, or visit a German baking site. (I can recommend Dr.Oetker or Küchengötter). Okay. There. I said it. Now lets get back to some sugar coated and flower dusted awesomeness.

Bienenstich Vegan {Vanilla Cake with Almond Brittle, Vanilla Custard, and Gooseberies}

Bienenstich with Gooseberries


For the cake
300 g (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
125 g (1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup) sugar
120 ml (1/2 cup) rapeseed oil
360 ml (1 1/2 cups) soy milk
For the gooseberry layer
300 g fresh or frozen gooseberries (alternatives: blackcurrants, redcurrants, blueberries)
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
For the custard layer
120 g (1/2 cup) plain soy yoghurt
125 g (1/2 plus 1/8 cup) sugar
360 ml (1 1/2 cups) soy milk
60 g (1/4 cup) refined coconut oil, melted
40 g (5 tablespoons) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon agar agar powder
For the almond brittle topping
120 ml soy cream (see bottom of post for alternative, use same amount)
1 tablespoon melted, refined coconut oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
125 g (1/2 plus 1/8 cup) sugar
100 g (1 cup) sliced almonds
1 pinch of salt


To make the cake, preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a springform pan (20 cm diameter) and dust with flour. Set aside.

Combine dry ingredients and mix well.

Add liquid ingredients and stir until no lumps remain.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes.

Let cool for five minutes, remove from pan and let cool completely.

Once it's cooled, cut the cake into two halves and set aside.

For the gooseberry layer,combine gooseberries and sugar in a small pan.

Simmer for 15 minutes.

Whisk together cornstarch and water, stir into the gooseberries and cook for another minute.

Put the bottom cake layer back into the springform pan.

Pour the gooseberry jam on top and let cool in the pan for about two hours at room temperature.

To prepare the custard filling, place all ingredients in a blender.

Blend until combined and pour into a saucepan.

Cook for 2 minutes while whisking constantly.

Pour over the gooseberry layer. (Your cake should still be in the pan.)

Remove pan and place the second cake layer on top of the cake and let cool in the fridge for about one hour.

To make the almond brittle topping, combine all ingredients in a saucepan.

Cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat, until the almond slices start to brown and the mixture will start sticking to the bottom of the pan. Make sure the almonds don't start to burn.

Pour over the cooled cake and serve once the topping has set.

Bienenstich Vegan {Vanilla Cake with Almond Brittle, Vanilla Custard, and Gooseberies}

*Plant based creams:

These are very easy to find in Germany and there are many different variations. You can get soy, almond, oat, and spelt based versions. Their main ingredients are a plant milk, oil, a little bit of sugar, and stabilisers. They are sweetened but only a tiny bit, to imitate the flavour of real cream. There are whipped versions, too. But the ones you see here cannot be whipped.They are suitable both for baking and cooking. (You can use them for pasta sauces, soups, etc.) If you have a similar product  you can use that. If not, here’s a replacement: Blend 100 g (3.5 oz) of soaked macadamia or cashew nuts with 240 ml (1 cup) of water. Make sure your cream is smooth and use 120 ml of this mixture for the almond caramel topping.

vegan creams

vegan creams











Before I can introduce today’s apricot cheesecake recipe I have to start with a couple of technical things. Because for this recipe, you are going to make your own quark. (No worries, it’s very easy!)

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that German cheesecakes are different from Northern American cheesecakes. Traditionally we use quark instead of cream cheese. Quark (or topfen in Austria) is a kind of soft cheese that is made from sour milk. It’s an early stage of regular cheese. Quark is similar to cream cheese somehow, but its texture is a bit more grainy. It also tastes differently. It is a bit blander and more sour than cream cheese. It comes in different varieties with different fat levels.

Vegan versions of quark do exist, although they do not really taste like the original version. Most also have a different texture. A popular yoghurt and soy milk brand seems to make their quark by reducing the amount of liquid in their yoghurt, to obtain a firmer texture. That is something what German vegans have been doing for years and this method is also the one I am showing you today.

There are several methods to strain your yoghurt and over time I have tried a few. At first I used a coffee dripper and a  filter. I placed the dripper over a bowl and poured the yoghurt inside. Then I let it drain in the fridge over night. I never really liked that method because I didn’t have much influence on the straining and the yogurt was difficult to scrape out.

Then I used a cheesecloth but whenever I tried to squeeze that, huge blobs of yoghurt would squirt out. Then I read about nut bags. Umfortunately they are so insanely expensive that I never bothered buying them. (12 € for a scrap of polyester? Come on!) And I am glad about that now. I found a super cheap alternative and maybe you have access to that, too. (Or a nut bag.) At German drugstores you can buy laundry bags made from polyester. (I bought mine at a chain called dm.) They are very similar to a nut bag but cost only a fraction. And these are the bags I use for making quark.

Apricot Cheesecake: vegan no-bake recipe. No creamcheese, no nuts.

I usually pour the yoghurt into the bag and hook it up. (The laundry bag has a long, adjustable string.) It let it hang like that for three to four hours and drain the liquid that has collected at the bottom of the mixing bowl.

After that I place a kitchen towel at the bottom of the bowl and place the yoghurt filled laundry bag on top of the towel. Then I let the yoghurt rest in the fridge for a night. The next morning the yoghurt has usually lost half its weight and is thick and creamy.

Apricot Cheesecake: vegan no-bake recipe. No cream cheese, no nuts.

If you don’t have access to nut or laundry bags, you can still make quark. Pour your yoghurt into a double layered cheesecloth or a regular kitchen towel. Tie it up with a small piece of thread and hook it up. If you haven’t got any hooks, you can try to tie it around the tap on your kitchen sink. Sometimes that works. Or you leave out that step and start by placing the filled kitchen towel in your bowl. Over night it should be able to soak up a lot of liquid even if you didn’t drain the yoghurt before.

Now that you’ve done all that, you have your cheesecake base! And believe me, it’s worth all the work. The cake you are going to make with this quark is very creamy and light. It also doesn’t require baking, there are no expensive cashew or other nuts in it and it reqires only a few more ingredients. Of course I couldn’t do without the coconut oil. If you are sensitive to that, you can replace it with margarine. That will definitely work for the crust. The filling might need a tiny bit more agar though. (Start with 1/4 teaspoon.)

Apricot Cheesecake: vegan no-bake recipe. No cream cheese, no nuts.

Oh, one last thing: This time I didn’t use regular agar agar. We have a product called Agartine, that is meant to replace gelatine in baking. The difference to regular agar is that Agartine is thinned with maltodextrin. One package measures 10 grams, of which 20 % are agar. So if you want to replace the Agartine with regular powdered agar agar, use 1 teaspoon (2 g).

As I already said, this cheesecake has a very light and creamy texture.It tastes mild and fresh and is only lightly sweetened. That makes a great base for the caramelised apricots which go on top. The crust couldn’t be easier: A simple two incredient cookie crust that is stored in the fridge so it will hold together well. I think this recipe is a great alternative both for those who don’t have access to cream cheese (or don’t like it’s taste) and for those who have to avoid nuts (or cannot afford them in the quantitiy that is usually necessary for no-bake vegan cheesecakes). So this apricot cheesecake is easy to make, and except for the agar agar, it doesn’t require any fancy or expensive ingredients.

Apricot Cheesecake: vegan no-bake recipe. No cream cheese, no nuts.

Apricot Cheesecake (No Baking, No Nuts)

8 servings


1000 g plain soy yoghurt
200 g cookies (oatmeal or shortbread)
10 tablespoons melted, refined coconut oil, divided
200 ml quince juice plus 2-3 tablespoons, divided (substitute apple juice)
10 g (1 pkg) agartine or 2 g (1 tsp) regular powdered agar agar
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
400 g apricots, sliced
50 g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch


A day before you plan to make your cheesecake, drain the yoghurt as explained above. Yield: 500 g of quark.

The next day, line a 21 cm springform pan with parchment paper (bottom and sides).

Place the cookies in a food processor and process into fine crumbs. Alternatively place the cookies in a freezer bag and use a rolling pin to crush the cookies.

Mix with 4 tablespoons melted coconut oil.

Press into the prepared pan and place in the fridge.

Pour the quark into a large bowl and mix with remaining coconut oil and sugar.

Place 200 ml quince juice and agartine (or apple juice and agar agar) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Boil for two minutes and let cool for five minutes.

Mix with the quark mixture until everything is smooth.

Remove the pan from the fridge and pour the quark mixture over the cookie crust.

Refridgerate for 2 hours, then place the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes.

While it's in the fridge, prepare the caramelised apricots.

Place apricots and brown sugar in a small saucepan. (Can be the one you used before.)

Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar has melted, stirring constantly.

Mix remaining juice with cornstarch and stir well until there are no lumps left.

Pour over the apricots and cook for another two minutes, stirring.

Let cool.

Carefully remove the cake from its pan.

Place the apricots on top of the cake. Reserve some of the apricot caramel for serving.

Store in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.

This cake's leftovers are best stored in the fridge, too.

Apricot Cheesecake: vegan no-bake recipe. No cream cheese, no nuts.





Today I have a very serious question for you. What is your opinion on pairing chocolate with fruits? I live with a huge opponent of this combination and I have to admit that I do sometimes agree with him. I don’t like all fruit and chocolate combinations (for example chocolate and orange). I don’t care about most. But there is one I really, really love. And that is cherry and chocolate.

First of all, cherries and chocolate just look great together, don’t they? And of course there’s the taste which I love. Cherries are sweet and they blend in much better than raspberries or strawberries. But there’s also a very practical reason: cherries are sturdy. They keep their shape and their texture. And they add moisture. Which means if you add these to a chocolate cake, you’re in for a treat that is not too sweet, perfectly moist and that will just melt in your mouth. And that every fruit and chocolate combination hater will love. At least the one I know did.

chocolate cherry guglhupf #vegan

Since we’re talking about perfect. Of course this is not your traditional guglhupf. A traditional guglhupf comes by many names (guglopf, gugelhupf, kugelhopf, kouglof, and so forth and so forth), is made with an enriched yeasted dough, has raisins instead of cherries, definitely no chocolate, and looks like this.

I refused both to use a traditional recipe and the traditional pan. I chose a regular bundt pan instead and made a baking powder batter. And while I was at it I went back to basics and added regular firm tofu. Remember? Back in the days when vegan baking was still a miracle we used to do that all the time. It’s better than black beans or beets, I say! But honestly nobody will taste the tofu and it adds a lot of moisture to this cake. And for those of you who aren’t friends with coconut oil: This cake has a coconut oil-free option.

Oh, did I mention this cake is moist and just really the perfect chocolate cake? Because it is! Make it. I promise you won’t regret it.

chocolate cherry guglhupf #vegan

For the filling, you can use either fresh or canned cherries. I just went with canned because they were already pitted and I am just as lazy as the regular person. It also ment I could snack on all those fresh cherries that I didn’t need for decoration.

Before you start mixing this batter I should also tell you that it is going to be a very thick almost bread like batter. Something quite typical for the cake recipes you can find in Germany. So please trust me, it will all work out!

Oh and if you’re wondering already about how to get those cherries to sit on top of your cake: have some toothpicks ready. Dip the cherries in chocolate, place them on your cake, fixate them with the toothpick and then push the toothpick into the cherries so it’s not visible anymore. But please don’t forget to tell your guests about this little secret. They should search for the picks and remove them before biting into their slices.

Chocolate Cherry Guglhupf


For the cake
240 ml (1 cup) soy or almond milk
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
120 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
250 g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
100 g (3.5 oz) firm tofu
400 g (3 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
20 g (1/4 cup) Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate
160 g (1 cup) canned or fresh pitted cherries.
For decoration
100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate
1 teaspoon refined coconut oil (or any vegetable oil)
about 25 fresh cherries


To make the cake preheat oven to 160° (325°F). Grease a bundt pan (25 cm diameter) and set aside.

In a blender combine soy milk and vinegar and let sit for 2-3 minutes or until curdled.

Add oil, sugar, vanilla, and tofu.

Blend until smooth.

Sift flour and cocoa in a larg bowl.

Add baking powder, soda, and salt.

Stir well.

Melt the chocolate over a water bath.

Add liquid ingredients and use a handheld mixer to blend all ingredients until smooth.

Fold in chocolate and blend again.

Scoop half of the batter into the pan and sprinkle half of the cherries on top.

Add the remaining batter and then press the remaining cherries into the batter.

Bake the cake for 60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.

Let cool completely.

To decorate melt choclate and coconot oil in a small bowl and stir well.

Reserve half of the cherries and dip the remaining fruits in the chocolate.

Use toothpicks to fixate the cherries on top of the cake. make sure to leave enough space for the remaining cherries.

Pour the remaining chocolate over the cake.

Add the remaining cherries and place the cake in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes before serving.

chocolate cherry guglhupf #vegan





Recently I saw a beautiful cake picture on Instagram. (The blog this picture was from is beautiful, too.) This cake looked so lovely and perfect that I immediately wanted to make it. Which is unusual because the cake was a fondant cake. And I don’t like fondant. Well, that is not really true. I like to do things with fondant just like I love to play with my daughter’s Play Doh. It’s fun to make little flowers and figures with fondant. But I really don’t like fondant on a cake. It’s too much and too sweet and I always fear I’ll end up in a sugar coma. Plus, fondant cakes usually look nice but taste meh. At least that’s my experience. (I grew up with cakes covered in whipped cream.)