Bienenstich - Bee Sting Cake
So, I'm on a baking kick at the moment. The cake base that I found and adapted for the Pineapple Upside Down Cake is so incredibly versatile - and, touch wood, I haven't screwed it up in the different recipes I've been experimenting with. Which, when it comes to baking, is a damned miracle, frankly.
I was eating the upside down cake with my friend and some time flatmate, Nixygirl, and we were talking about what other sorts of cakes could be made with this awesome vegan sponge base. The first one we discussed was sticky date pudding (which I will be trying tomorrow night, so expect a post!), and then, for some unknown reason, Bee Sting Cake popped into my head.
I can't think of a more un-vegan cake, really. Honey topping and custard filling!! I can't even remember the last time I had Bee Sting...probably, um, ten years ago? Definitely when I was in my voracious cafe lifestyle kick. I'm not even sure I've seen Bee Sting on a cafe menu for that long - if not longer!!
Bee Sting (or Bienenstich) is traditionally a yeast risen cake made with almond meal, topped with (often honey) toffee-d almonds, and with a centre of rich custard (or whipped cream, but I prefer the custard version). The marvellous!! wonderful!! I'm-really-excited-about-this!! vegan sponge has a slightly doughy texture, perfect for this cake.
So I made up a recipe, and then wandered the interwebs to check if I was on the right track. And, pretty much, yeah. Very simple, but snazzy looking and tasty!! Of course, not particularly traditional, and I can't guarentee that it tastes like Bee Sting...but it tastes really good, so who's quibbling?!
A couple of notes - this sponge has been coming out brown all the way through for me. Part of this is because I use an unrefined sugar, and also (I think) because of the reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar. Additionally, cakes made with almond meal often brown fairly quickly. But the dark golden colour really suits the summery feel of the Bee Sting Cake.
ZB's Bee Sting
1 cup plain flour
1/2 heaping cup spelt flour
1 heaping cup almond meal
2 teaspoons baking soda
200g Nutrisoy Apricot Dessert (I use this to replace oil/fat - and the subtle apricot flavour goes really well with the almond flavour)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I like using this vinegar as the fruity flavour adds a spiciness to the cake - and no vinegar taste!)
1/2 scant cup muscavado sugar
maple syrup/agave nectar/water to make 1 cup of liquid
1/2 to 3/4 cup vegan custard powder
juice of one orange
splash of pure vanilla extract
agave nectar to taste
1 to 1 1/2 cups soy milk (about double the amount of custard powder)
1/2 cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons Nuttelex
1/2 to 1 cup soy milk
75g (about 1 cup) slivered almonds
Heat your oven to about 190 degrees celcius. Grease and flour a cake pan - I used a rectangular pan of about 12 by 4 inches). Sift the flours, almond meal, sugar and baking soda together in a large bowl. I never used to sift the flours for cakes, but I'm now a big fan of it. Sift, I say!! Mix the maple syrup/agave nectar/water and the vinegar together in a separate bowl. Mash the apricot dessert, and stir into the flour mix.
Pour the liquid into the flour mix, and stir to combine. Don't overmix, just enough to get the foaming reaction going, and to get everything well combined and to make sure that there are no lumps.
Pour into your cake pan, and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour - until dark golden brown and risen, and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the pan and set aside to cool for about 15 to 20 minutes. Using a serrated knife, carefully slice the cake horizontally, and let both slices cool even further.
Put a saucepan (with a good solid top, as we're using this as the base for a double boiler) on to boil, filled about a third to half way full with water.
In a metal mixing bowl, whisk the custard powder and soy milk together. Put the bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan, and whisk until thickened and cooked. You want the custard to be quite thick, in order to take the weight of the cake that will be on top of it. Take the bowl off the saucepan, and add the agave nectar, orange juice and vanilla extract to taste, whisking all the while.
I tend to cheat, and cool the custard fast in the freezer. If you do this, take it out and whisk it every 10 to 15 minutes, until the custard has completely cooled and is very thick and smooth. Once it has cooled, test for sweetness - you don't want it too sweet, but you don't want it tasting like custard powder either!!
Put the Nuttelex and sugar into a saucepan over a medium heat, and melt, stirring fairly often to make sure the mix doesn't burn. Let it come to the boil for a little while, to get the sugar to start caramelising and thickening. Slowly pour in the soy milk, whisking it into the mix, until the toffee is glossy and still fairly thick. Pour in the almonds, coat thoroughly in the toffee, and set aside to cool slightly.
Putting it all together
Choose which of your cake slices will be the top of the cake. Spoon the majority of the almonds and toffee onto this slice, making sure that the whole top of the cake is covered, and the almonds have enough toffee to stick to each other and the cake when cooled.
Pour the rest of the almond toffee onto the bottom layer of the cake, making sure it's even all over.
Pour the custard onto the bottom layer of the cake, making sure it's heaped highest in the centre of the cake, and only just reaches near the edges. The weight of the top layer will push the custard out a bit, and you don't want it oozing everywhere - just enough to peek out!!
Smooth the custard if needed, and then take the top layer and carefully place it on top. I had to do this a couple of times, because I didn't get it centred well enough, and then I got the top around the wrong way and it looked a little wonky!! I sorted it out in the end, though!
I let this chill overnight before serving it, to let the layers and flavours come together - though I'm sure it would taste awesome served immediately!!
Sit outside in the sun, with good friends and something to celebrate, and enjoy this luscious, rich and wonderfully vegan treat!!