I guess that’s why it’s so important to know the classics because, with these basic skills, so many delicious yet simple things can be made.
I’ve eaten Bienenstich for years, not realising it’s really just brioche baked in a round cake tin with a caramel nut topping and custard in the middle!
- 260 g (9¼ oz/1¾ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour + extra, for dusting
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- 2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
- 25 g (1 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 130 ml (4½ fl oz) tepid milk
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 50 g (2¼ oz) unsalted butter
- 55 g (2 oz/ ¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp honey
- ¼ tsp salt
- 80 g (2¾ oz/ ¾ cup) flaked almonds
- ½ quantity chilled Crème Pâtissière (see Note)
- 50 ml (1¾ fl oz) thickened (whipping) cream
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time: overnight
Rising time: 1 hour
To make the brioche, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, butter, milk and egg in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Hook on the lowest setting for 2 minutes, then add the salt and hook for a further 5 minutes until the dough is sticky, smooth and glossy. Leave the dough in the bowl, and press plastic wrap directly on its surface, making sure any gaps around the side are sealed. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, grease the ring of a 22 cm (8½inch) springform tin with butter, then cut strips of baking paper to line the side. Turn the base of the tin upside down, so it no longer has a lip. Place a piece of baking paper over it, then clamp the ring around it to secure.
Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl into the prepared tin. Sprinkle some flour over the top to stop your fingers from sticking, and press it evenly to cover the bottom of the tin. Cover with plastic wrap, then a clean tea towel, and allow to rise in a draught-free spot in the house – and a warm one if possible – for about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in volume.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) fan-forced.
To make the topping, combine the butter, caster sugar, milk, honey and salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until everything has melted and combined. Stir in the nuts, then set aside to cool.
Spread the topping carefully and evenly over the surface of the risen dough, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool the brioche completely, before removing from the tin.
To finish, place the chilled crème pâtissière in a medium mixing bowl, and whisk with an electric mixer on high speed for about 10 seconds, to loosen the mixture. Add the cream and whisk until combined.
Use a serrated knife to slice the cake in half horizontally, then slice the top half into 12 segments. Otherwise the nuts will shred the brioche on the way down and all the custard will ooze out. Spread the custard on the bottom half, replace the individual top slices, cut all the way through the bottom half and serve. This is best eaten on the day it is baked.
• To make the crème pâtissière, microwave 1 litre of milk in a large heatproof bowl for 4–5 minutes on the highest setting. Meanwhile, whisk 6 egg yolks and 2 extra eggs with 200 g caster sugar sugar until pale and thick. Do not allow the sugar to rest on the eggs for any length of time before whisking vigorously, or it will pickle the yolks unevenly and create a lumpy mixture. Whisk in 100 g cornflour until smooth. Add to the hot milk, and whisk to combine.
Microwave for 2 minutes, then whisk madly until smooth. Repeat this twice, or until the mixture is very thick and swirls stay put like whipped cream. Cool for about 5 minutes, before whisking in 60 g chilled unsalted butter and 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract until combined. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes, whisking enthusiastically every 10 minutes to get rid of any steam trapped in the custard and helping it to set. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the custard, and refrigerate overnight or until completely chilled before using. When ready to use, whip together the crème pâtissière and Cointreau with an electric mixer on high speed until silky and glossy.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Michelle Noerianto.