Serves a Crowd

Bee Sting Cake

August 10, 2015
6 Ratings
Photo by Yossy Arefi
  • Makes one 9-inch cake
Author Notes

This delicious yeasted cake comes from Deb of Smitten Kitchen. It's a traditional German cake is made from yeasted cake batter, which is topped with sticky almonds and filled with a thick vanilla pastry cream. —Yossy Arefi

What You'll Need
  • For the cake and honey-almond topping:
  • Cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Honey-Almond Topping
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • For the pastry cream filling:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. For the cake and honey-almond topping:
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl Stir to combine. Make a well in the center and add the milk, eggs, and butter. Stir the batter together until it is well combined and cohesive. The batter will look somewhere between a loose bread dough and a thick cake batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a draft-free spot for an hour. The mixture will not quite double in size.
  3. Butter a 9-inch cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Stir the batter a few times to deflate it slightly, then scrape it into the prepared pan and spread it until it more or less fills the bottom of the pan. Cover again with plastic wrap and set aside for another 30 minutes. While the cake is rising again preheat the oven to 350° F and make the honey-almond topping.
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter, sugar, honey, cream, and salt, stirring occasionally until the butter is melted. Bring to a simmer and let boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes a shade darker (it should go from a yellowish tone to a light beige), stirring frequently. Stir in the almonds. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. Set it aside to cool slightly.
  5. Once the cake has risen and the honey-almond topping has cooled slightly, use a spoon to place small amounts of the topping over the cake batter. Make sure to cover the entire top of the cake, all of the way to the edges.
  6. Bake the cake for 20 to 25 minutes, until top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, run a knife along the outside of the cake and invert it onto a cooling rack. Invert it back onto another rack to cool completely. While the cake is cooling, make the pastry cream.
  1. For the pastry cream filling:
  2. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, vanilla bean pod, and vanilla bean seeds until it comes to a simmer. Set aside to steep for 30 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until pale yellow and smooth. After the milk has steeped, remove the vanilla bean pod, rewarm it slightly, then whisk it into the egg mixture.
  4. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to bubble. Cook the mixture for 1 full minute, then take the pan off of the heat and whisk in the butter.
  5. Transfer the cream to a bowl then press a length of plastic wrap on the surface. Refrigerate until completely cool.
  6. To assemble the cake: When the cake and pastry cream are completely cooled, slice the cake in half horizontally. Stir the pastry cream to loosen it slightly, then spread it over the bottom of the cake. Top with the almond-crusted layer and serve immediately. Store leftover cake, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Elaine Boston
    Elaine Boston
  • Gabriela Leite-Soares
    Gabriela Leite-Soares
  • PieceOfLayerCake
  • Kayla Reopelle
    Kayla Reopelle
  • Yossy Arefi
    Yossy Arefi
Yossy Arefi is a photographer and stylist with a passion for food. During her stint working in restaurant kitchens, Yossy started the blog Apt. 2B Baking Co. where, with her trusty Pentax film camera, she photographs and writes about seasonal desserts and preserves. She currently lives in Brooklyn but will always love her native city of Seattle. Follow her work at &

12 Reviews

Elaine B. December 29, 2021
When I baked this cake, most of the honeyed almonds sank to the bottom of the cake, thus they didn’t caramelize during the baking. Apparently, many others who’ve baked this cake have had the same problem, leading me to believe that the recipe needs revamping. Clearly, the cake structure was not strong enough to hold up the almond topping. I would not make the recipe again as written. It would be nice if a revamped recipe could be posted on this website.
Jen October 4, 2018
I've made this three times and it's always delicious.

I bake it for about 10 minutes to form a crust before adding the almonds. That stops them from sinking.

I have a different problem, though. My cake is always pretty flat. It's maybe 2 inches high, so it's not high enough to cut in half and add the custard. Has anyone experienced this?
Jen October 4, 2018
I bake it for about 10 minutes before adding the topping. Long enough for the top to be solid enough to hold the mixture.
Jen October 4, 2018
I bake it for about 10 minutes before adding the topping.
Ian April 8, 2018
I have a similar issue in that topping mixture moves through to the middle of the cake.
what do you suggest to make sure that the topping stays on the top?
ccnewman February 29, 2016
I made this cake exactly like the recipe; however, the almond mixture sank to the bottom of the cake pan while cooking? Any thoughts?
Kayla R. July 14, 2016
I had the same issue! I think my problem had something to do with the second rise being too warm, but fortunately the almonds arranged themselves rather nicely at the bottom of the cake, and so I just flipped the cake over and put it back in for 5 minutes to crisp them up a bit and served it almond side up. I'd love to know how to fix this for next time though!
daryl November 9, 2015
Made this as per recipe this weekend, with exception that i used my kitchen aid to mix the batter. It was very interesting process as i have never made a yeasted cake before. The cake itself is not as sweet as other cakes I've made. Next time i would probably double the pastry cream recipe. I had a bit of trouble with the almond mixture as the oil from butter did not initially integrate with rest of ingredients, but i re-heated and wisked the mixture and that solved the issue. One thing I'd like to try in future is to toast the almonds. I also think that a simple syrup soak for bottom layer would add another dimension.
Gabriela L. August 16, 2015
May I substitute almond with walnuts?
I'm allergic to almond.
Yossy A. August 17, 2015
Hi Gabriela, I think that should work fine!
Yazoolulu August 13, 2015
I have made this before from the Smitten Kitchen site and it is *wonderful*. I especially like that it is not too sweet. Thank you for reminding me of this great recipe. I am making this again today!
PieceOfLayerCake August 12, 2015
Bee Schnitten! Thank YOU!