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Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake) is a yeasted sheetcake with a buttercream (or whipped cream) filling and a caramelized nut topping. It is very popular all over Germany. Traditionally, German buttercream is made with butter, sugar, and eggs. But these days most recipes call for custard powder instead of eggs. (I really had no idea how popular custard is in Germany! I am not the biggest fan – but now that I am doing this theme I realise that so many German dessert recipes call for custard.) In the area where I grew up, Bienenstich was not made with buttercream at all. We used sweetened whipped cream instead.
Bienenstich is best made for a large crowd, since it’s a sheetcake baked in a deep baking sheet. And you need some time for it, as it is made with yeasted dough. If you don’t have that large crowd or you don’t feel like baking with yeast, try these Bienenstich cupcakes instead. I made them by adapting a recipe for “quick” bienstich, that called for baking powder instead of yeast. (It’s also a recipe that makes a smaller quantity.)
If you look at that recipe you can see that it calls for 4 eggs. Many vegans would tell you to stay away from such a recipe. They doubt you can replace all those eggs and get a result that is similar to the original version. Sometimes that is true. But if you look at that recipe again, you will also see that it calls for 150 g of butter. That butter will add flavour and it will moisten the cake. But it will also destroy its structure as it coats the flour proteins and keeps them from forming gluten. To make the cake lighter and improve the structure, you need more eggs. When I adapted that recipe I simply cut out some of the fat and added some milk to provide the liquid the eggs usually would provide. Problem solved. This method works for most cake recipes that call for a high amount of fat and eggs.
The topping is usually made in advance, sprinkled on top of the batter and baked with the crust. For my cupcakes I tried to caramelise the nuts and the sugar in a pan and that didn’t go so well. I looked up other Bienenstich cupcake recipes and found a great alternative to my method here and here. I’ll post this method insteead of my original version.
When it comes to the filling I have to admit that I don’t like buttercream. It is too heavy for me. I thought about using vegan whipped cream, but the versions I tried so far often have an artificial taste or they are not widely available. So I simply used my almond cream recipe. Here’s a buttercream recipe, if you want to go for a more traditional Bienenstich filling.
Bienestich Cupcakes (makes 9)
adapted from this recipe
For the cupcakes:
150 g (1 1/4 cups) flour
125 g ( 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch salt
160 ml (2/3 cup) soy milk
80 ml (1/3 cup) oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
110 g (3/4 cup) almonds
120 ml (1/2 cup) almond milk, soy milk, or water
seeds from half a vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
30 g (1/4 cup) powdered sugar
For the topping:
To make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line 9 muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.
In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add remaining ingredients. Beat everything with a hand held blender. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 20 Minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and let cool.
To make the filling:
Bring a small pot with water to a boil. Add the almonds and blanch them for 2 minutes. Drain and let cool. Remove the skins. (Even if you have blanched almonds on hand, please don’t skip the cooking step. Just like soaking it makes the almonds soft and easier to blend.)
Combine almonds and remaining ingredients for the cream in a blender. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
To make the topping:
Roast the almonds in a pan until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Place the sugar in a small pot and slowly melt it over low or medium-low heat. Add agave and coconut oil and stir, then add the almond cream. Remove from heat, add almonds and stir until covered. Let cool completely before topping the cupcakes. (If you want this to be quick, spread the almonds on a baking sheet. The topping should ahve cooled down after 15 minutes.)
Cut a hole in the middle of each cupcake. Reserve the tops. Fill the cupcakes with almond cream and carefully put the tops back. Use a spoon to distribute the topping on top of the cupcakes. (It will look different from the pictures above since I used my first topping version that didn’t come out so well. You should have some almonds on top with caramelized sugar running down the cupcake.) Serve and Enjoy!