Monday, December 30, 2013

Bienenstich Kuchen (German Bee Sting Cake) - We Knead to Bake #12

Wish You All A Very Happy New Year - 2014

This German Bee Sting cake is our last We Knead to Bake baking project for this year.  Looking forward to baking more delicious and challenging yeasted goodies next year too.

Aparna's choice for this month is the Bienenstich Kuchen or what’s also known as the German Bee Sting Cake! Bienenstich is not really a bread but a traditional German sweet yeasted cake that has a baked on topping of crunchy almond toffee-like layer and filled with a vanilla pastry cream. Bienenstich is traditionally eaten as dessert but also served with tea or coffee.

Bienenstich means “bee sting” in German and probably got its name from the honey flavored topping that is typical of this yeasted cake. There are however some interesting stories connected to it. One story is that the German baker who was creating this recipe came across a bee (possibly attracted by the honey) and was stung by it and decided to name the cake after the incident!

Another story is that a group of German bakers stopped invaders from entering a neighboring village, sometime in the 15th century, by throwing beehives at them. In order to celebrate their victory, they created the original version of the Bienenstich.

Click here for more detailed version of this recipe.

I used small ramekins and baking cups for baking this cake instead of cake pan.

For the Pastry Cream Filling:
Milk 2% - 1 cup (250ml)
Sugar - 3 TBSP
Vanilla flavored custard powder - 3 TBSP
Heavy cream - 200ml
Corn starch - 1 TBSP

For the Dough:
Milk 2% - 1/4 cup (since I didn't use eggs, I added 2 to 3 TBSP more milk)
Butter - 7 TBSP (100gm), at room temperature
All purpose flour - 2 cups
Sugar - 2 TBSP
Egg - 1 to 2 ( I did not use it)
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Instant yeast - 1 1/4 tsp

For the Honey - Almond Topping:
Butter - 3 1/2 TBSP (50gm)
Sugar - 1/3 cup
Honey - 2 TBSP
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Sliced almonds - 2/3 cup


  • Make the custard for the filling first. This can be made the previous day and refrigerated till required.
  • Keep aside 1/4 cup of milk, and put the remaining milk and the sugar in pan. Over medium heat, bring this to a boil while stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. In the meanwhile, dissolve the custard powder in the 1/4 cup of milk. 
  • Add this in a stream, to the boiling milk and keep whisking so that no lumps are formed.
  • Keep whisking until the custard becomes very thick. Take the pan off the heat and let the custard cool to room temperature. 
  • Whisk it on and off so it stays smooth. If it does become lumpy after cooling, use a hand blender to make it smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
  • Once you are ready to fill the Bienenstich, whip 200ml of cream till soft peaks form. Then add the corn-starch and whip till it forms stiff peaks. Whisk the custard to make sure it is smooth. Gently fold the cream into the custard. If you feel it is too soft, refrigerate for a couple of hours and then use.

  • To make the dough, heat the milk until it is quite hot but not boiling. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the milk, stirring it until the better melts completely. Let it cool a little. 
  • In the meanwhile, put the flour, sugar, salt and the yeast in the bowl of your processor. Run a couple of times to mix well and then add the egg (leave the egg out if you don’t use it). Run again till the egg has also mixed well. Now add the butter-milk mixture (it should be warm, not hot) and the then knead till it forms a smooth and soft (loose) brioche-like dough that’s just short of sticky. It should come away from the sides of the bowl and be easy to handle.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl. Cover loosely and let it rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. This dough will rise quite well but not to double or as much as your regular bread dough. 
  • Deflate the dough, and shape again to a smooth ball. Place it in a 8” spring form cake tin lined with parchment. It is important to do this otherwise the topping will make the bread/ cake sticky and difficult to unmould. Flatten the dough a little, pressing down lightly so that the dough fits the cake tin. It doesn't matter if its not touching the sides like batter does. Let it rise for about 30 to 45 minutes. It will not rise very much and look a little puffy.

  • Prepare the topping while the dough rises. Melt the butter, sugar, honey and vanilla in a small pan, over medium heat. Keep stirring frequently and it will start bubbling up. Let it cook for about 3 minutes or so until it turns to a light beige color. Add the sliced almonds, and stir well till the almonds are well coated. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool a bit. The mixture will become quite thick.
  • Now get ready to bake the bread/ cake. Once the dough has risen, use a spoon take bits if the topping (it will be quite thick, like a sticky fudge) and distribute it uniformly over the surface. If there are small gaps they will get covered once the bread/ cake is baking.
  • Bake at 180C (350F) for about 25 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling. A cake tester through the center should come out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then gently loosen the sides with a spatula and unmould. Let it cool completely on a rack.

  • When it has cooled completely, slice the cake into two equal layers carefully, using a very sharp knife. Spread the pastry cream on the lower layer and top with the upper layer and refrigerate till ready to serve.
  • This recipe should serve 8 to 10. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cardamom Flavored Snowball Cookies

Happy Holidays!!!
Recipe (slightly modified) source: Wilton

Unsalted butter - 2 sticks or 1 cup, softened
Granulated sugar - 1/2 cup
Pure vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
All-purpose flour - 1 3/4 cup
Ground almonds - 1 cup
Confectioners sugar - for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degree F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and mix well.
  3. Add flour and ground almonds.  Mix with electric mixer on low speed until dough forms.
  4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown.  Remove to cooling rack.  Cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Roll warm cookies in confectioners sugar.  Cool completely before storing.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Curry Podi ~ Multi-Purpose South Indian Spice Powder

For dry curries like eggplant (ennai kathirikai), spicy potato or any other vegetable stir fries.
For instant arachivitta sambar or kootu. Grind this powder with some grated coconut and add it and the end.

Here are two of my recipes using this curry podi / powder:
Eggpalnt Curry
Spicy Potao Roast 

Coriander Seeds - 1 cup
Chana dal / kadalai paruppu - 1/2 cup
Dry red chillies - 8
Black pepper - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds / Methi -  1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 spring

  1. Dry roast all the ingredients on a low flame until light golden brown and aromatic.  Let it cool completely.
  2. Grind into a coarse powder.
  3. Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cranberry - Meyer Lemon and Ginger Pickle

Cranberry - 2 bags (24oz)
Meyer Lemon - 6  (Here is an article about Meyer lemon)
Ginger - 1/2 cup, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 tsp
Red chili powder - 1 1/2 - 2 TBSP or to taste
Roasted fenugreek powder - 1 tsp (dry roast fenugreek seeds in a pan until dark brown and fragrant)
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Sesame oil - 1/2 cup
Curry leaves - 1 to 2 springs
Salt - 3 to 4 tsp or to taste

  1. Wash and dry the cranberries.  Discard soft, discolored or shriveled cranberries.
  2. Wash the meyer lemon and pat dry.  Cut into half and remove seeds.  Then cut into 8 pieces or smaller.
  3. Heat sesame oil in a large sauce pan.  Add the mustard seeds and let it splutter.
  4. Add curry leaves and chopped ginger.  Fry for a minute.
  5. Add the cut lemon pieces, turmeric powder and 1 tsp of salt.  Cook for 10 minutes until lemon becomes soft.
  6. Now add the cranberries, red chili powder and salt.  Mix well.
  7. Cook on low flame until the cranberries are soft and mushy.  Keep stirring occasionally.
  8. Once cooked, oil will start to float on top and sides.  At this stage switch off the flame.
  9. Add 1 tsp roasted fenugreek powder and mix well.
  10. Let it cool completely.  Store in a clean, dry glass jar.
  11. Refrigerate and use a dry spoon when serving.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Kanel Snegle / Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Snails / Buns) ~ We Knead to Bake # 11

This is Aparna's We Knead to Bake challenge for the month of November.

Recipe copied from Aparna's blog My Diverse Kitchen.

Here is a youtube video on how to bake Kanelbullar / kanel Snegle.

  • Kanel Snegle (Cinnamon Snails) or Kanelbullar (Cinnamon Buns) which is the Swedish version of the popular American Cinnamon Rolls. The Swedish version are probably the original version and not sticky like their American counterparts and are also less sweet. These rolls are delightfully aromatic, soft and moist, and perfect with a cup of tea/ coffee whether for breakfast or in the evening.
  • The Swedish Kanel Snegle/ Kanelbullar is less about sugar and more about the spices in it – cardamom in the dough and cinnamon inside the Snails/ Buns. Whether you call them Snails (coiled shape)or Buns (twisted and rolled up) depends on how you shape them. Scandinavian celebratory breads tend to be all about spices and warmth so you will find a lot of their breads scented with cardamom. Cinnamon, cloves, aniseed, etc.
  • These Cinnamon Snails/ Buns are found all over Europe with slight variations in recipe and the shapes as  Franzbrotchen, Korvapuusti, Skillingsbollen, etc.
  • Kanel Snegle/ Kanelbullar are traditionally made on the 4th of October every year in Sweden to celebrate “the Day of the Cinnamon Bun” but can be found in bakeries all through the year. There are different ways of shaping this confectionery and I have detailed two types here – the typical “snail” shape which much like that of the regular Cinnamon Roll, and the “twist”. You are free to explore different shapes and try them out if you’re feeling adventurous.

For the Starter:
Warm milk - 1 cup
Instant yeast - 2 tsp
All purpose flour - 2 cups

For the dough:
All the starter
All purpose flour - 2 cups
Salt -1 1/2 tsp (if using salted butter, 3/4 tsp)
Lemon zest - 2 tsp
Caster sugar - 1/3 cup
Butter - 3 TBSP, softened at room temperature

For the filling:
Butter - 1/3 cup, softened at room temperature
Light brown sugar - 1/2 cup, loosely packed
Cinnamon powder - 2 tsp
Coarsely ground almonds - 1/3 cup

For the topping:
Milk - 1/4 cup (or egg wash if you eat eggs)
Pearl sugar or large sugar crystals ( I used turbinado / raw sugar)


  • Mix together all the ingredients for the Starter into a sticky dough, in a large bowl. Place the Starter dough in an oiled bowl and loosely cover it and then refrigerate it.  Remember the dough will rise quite a bit so use a container that has enough room for this.
  • The next day, about 30 minutes before you are ready to start on the dough, take the Starter out and leave it at room temperature. As always this can be kneaded by hand or in the processor. I’m giving instructions for using the processor.
  • Tear the Starter to large pieces and drop into the processor bowl.  Now sift together the flour, cardamom and salt into a bowl. Add this, the lemon zest and sugar to the bowl and run the processor till well mixed.
  • Now add the soft butter and knead well until you have a smooth and elastic dough. If your dough feels dry, add a little milk or if it feels wet then add a little flour till you have the required consistency of dough.
  • Now turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and then roll it out into a approximately rectangle about 20” by 12” in size. Make the filling by mixing/ creaming together the soft butter, brown sugar and cinnamon with a fork or spoon into a spreadable paste. Depending on which shape you are going to make your Cinnamon Buns, spread the filling either all over your dough rectangle, or over half of it.
  • Sprinkle the coarse almond powder over this and then either tightly roll the dough jelly/ Swiss roll style and cut it into 20 equal pieces with a sharp knife. Place these, cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet leaving space between them, or in white cupcake cases. 
  • Otherwise fold the dough over in half and cut into 20 long strips with a sharp knife, twist and shape them as desired. Place these, cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet leaving space between them, or in white cupcake cases.
  • Let them rise for about 10 to 15 minutes till they look a little puffy but not swollen up. Brush the Snails/ Buns with milk (or egg wash) and sprinkle with pearl sugar, large sugar crystals or brown sugar (whatever you have on hand).
  • Bake them at 200C (400F) for about 15 minutes till they’re cooked, golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. If they’re browning too quickly, turn down the temperature by about 20C (65F) and bake them till done.
  • Let them cool on wire racks. You can serve them warm or at room temperature. You can freeze these Kanel Snegle for whenever you feel like having one. This recipe makes about 20 Kanel Snegle/ Kanelbullar.