Friday, February 25, 2011
Chef Gert's Bienenstich
Bienenstich or "Bee sting cake" is a German sweet bread with a gooey honey-almond topping and a rich buttercream center. According to one legend, the scent of the honey attracted a bee to the cake, and the poor bugger who stood between them was collateral damage.
Another legend tells of some German bakers in the 15th century who successfully defended their land from invaders by pelting them with beehives, and later commemorated their victory with this sweet creation.
Bee Sting Starter & Dough, Set Aside For 2nd Prove
Milk, flour and yeast are mixed to form the starter, and set aside to ferment for about 15 minutes or so, depending on the temperature and humidity of the day. You can tell it is ready when small bubbles appear on the surface. At this stage more flour, sugar, butter, salt and lemon zest are added and the mix is kneaded till a smooth dough comes together.
Cooking Honey Almond Topping
Butter, sugar, cream, honey and vanilla are brought to a boil, then almonds are stirred in to combine and the topping's done! (It looks and tastes almost like nougatine.)
Laying Dough & Topping, Set Aside To Prove Until The Dough Doubles In Size
Similar to mousseline: creme patisserie with a healthy pat of butter added for good measure.
Telltale Cracks: Fermenting Panattone Dough, The Good Old Fashion Way
Panattone is an Italian sweet bread originating in Milan and popular at Christmas time. Similar to the Bee Sting, it starts with a starter (pun intended) and the rest of the flour is sprinkled on top, a very old school way of checking for fermentation: once sufficient carbon dioxide is produced, the starter will expand and push through the layer of flour, creating cracks on the surface. Interesting but not necessarily an easier way to check for fermentation, this method is hardly used now in the modern kitchen.
Into the dough goes egg yolks, salt and sugar, all mixed in and left to ferment till double in size.
Kneading Butter & Macerated Fruits Into Fermented Dough
Shaping Mini & Traditional Fluted Panattone
What's In Store Come The Morrow
The dough needs to be refrigerated overnight to relax and for the flavors to develop. Rather than wait another day, Chef Gert came prepared with a loaf he baked earlier, which he gleefully sliced up for us to have as morning tea. Bless the dear man!
My Bee Sting: Soothed With Buttercream & Left Alone
I may be a stickler for tradition, but along with most of the class I found the buttercream too OTT for the already luxurious cake. Straight from the oven, it was warm and pillowy soft, with the crunchy almonds and my-oh-my molten sweet honey crust that seeped through the top of the bread, providing extra richness and moisture. Aw man I so *heart* bread, all kinds of bread, from the making to the munching. How can you not?
The Perfect Snack