Bienerstuck: German Coffee Cake Recipe

Rediscover this forgotten German coffee cake and taste why it was once so popular in Europe.

From "A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets"
April 2016

  • The Bienerstuck coffee cake has fallen out of favor in recent years but deserves a chance to be tasted by everyone.
    Photo by racamani/Fotolia
  • In "A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets," author George Greenstein's expert instructions educates readers in making doughs for bundt, babka, strudel, gugelhopf, stollen, pressburger, puff pastry and Danish to create a jumping-off point for more than 200 variations of classic pastries, including napoleons, coffee cakes and sweet buns.
    Cover courtesy Ten Speed Press

Yield: 8 servings

Author George Greenstein has a gift for teaching home bakers to think, work and bake like the pros with his evocative and tactile descriptions of baking. In A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets (Ten Speed Press, 2015), he crafts master dough recipes for Jewish holiday baking and European classics, creating a comprehensive set of building blocks for both beginners and baking enthusiasts. The book also offers an in-depth guide to ingredients and equipment, including both professional and home ovens, as well as 40 basic recipes for fillings, icings, and glazes. With Greenstein's steady guidance and familiar voice, home bakers and professionals alike will be encouraged to turn out flawless pastry creations for any occasion.


Bienerstück, known as “beehive cake,” is a yeast-raised coffee cake topped with caramelized honey and nuts and filled with cream custard. This is a lovely German coffee cake, at one time very popular but unusual now. A delight to old-generation Europeans, it waits its turn to be discovered all over again. The name in the original German suggests “bee sting.” Perhaps it was its name that “done it in.”


German Coffee Cake

• 1 (8 ounce/255 gram) portion Bundt Dough
• 1⁄4 cup (2 ounces/56 grams) unsalted butter, melted
• 1-1⁄2 cups (11.1 ounces/315 grams) Pastry Cream

Honey Beehive Topping

• 1⁄4 cup (2 ounces/56 grams) unsalted butter
• 1⁄2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) sugar
• 1⁄4 cup (3 ounces/ 5 grams) honey
• 1 1⁄2 cups (6 ounces/170 grams) sliced almonds or chopped walnuts, preferably toasted
• 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1⁄8 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly ground


1. Butter or grease a 10-inch round or 9-inch square cake layer pan; pans with 1-inch-high sides are best.

2. Shape the dough into a ball, cover, and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.

3. Flatten and then roll out the dough on a flour-dusted work surface until it is about 1-inch wider than the pan.

4. Place in the prepared pans and, with your fingertips, press gently to fit the pan.

5. With a fork, stipple a series of holes over the entire dough.

6. Brush the dough with the melted butter.

7. Allow the dough to stand until double in volume, 45 to 60 minutes (time will vary depending on temperature and humidity). When touched very gently on the side with a fingertip, the dough should be soft and yield readily. Meanwhile, prepare the Honey Beehive Topping.

8. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.

9. Add the sugar and honey and stir to dissolve.

10. Remove from the heat; stir in the nuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

11. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C.

12. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned on top.

13. Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack for about 5 minutes.

14. Care­fully spread the topping over the cake. Return to the hot oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the topping bubbles and begins to caramelize.

15. Allow to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

16. Carefully, turn the cake out of the pan.

17. Turn right-side up.

18. Split in half horizontally with a sharp serrated knife.

19. Set the top half aside.

20. Place the base on a serving dish.

21. Fit a pastry bag with a #8 star or French star tip and fill with pastry cream Pipe and “bag out” (squeeze out) a 1-inch spiral border of pastry cream and then fill with concentric circles until completely covered. Or, using a spatula, spread with 1/2-inch layer of pastry cream, to cover.

22. Lift the top carefully, with a spatula slipped underneath for support, and place on top of the pastry cream.

23. The cake keeps well, unfilled and lightly covered, for up to 24 hours at room temperature. Fill just before serving. The cake can be refriger­ated or frozen while unfilled.


Bienerstück with Honey Oatmeal Topping

1. Make the cake as above, but prepare a different topping by melting 1⁄4 cup (2 ounces/56 grams) unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.

2. Add 1 cup (7.76 ounces/220 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar and 1⁄4 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) honey and stir to dissolve.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup (3 ounces/85 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats, 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1⁄8 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly ground.

4. Bake the cake as above, spreading this topping instead of the Honey Beehive Topping and finishing the cake as above.

More recipes from A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets:

Bundt Dough Recipe
Cheese Danish Recipe
Country Polish Bread Recipe
Danish Pastry Dough Recipe
Pastry Cream Recipe

Reprinted with permission from A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets by George Greenstein with Elaine Greenstein, Julia Greenstein and Issac Bleicher and published by Ten Speed Press, 2015.

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