Bee Sting Cake
Prep Time: 
Cook Time: 
Total Time: 
Serves: 8-10 servings
 
THIS CAKE SHARES SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TARTE TROPÉZIENNE, A SPECIALTY OF ST TROPEZ. BUT I’M PRETTY CERTAIN THAT THE RECIPE IS CONSIDERABLY OLDER. IF YOU CHOOSE TO GIVE IT A HINT OF THE SUNNY SOUTH, FLAVOR THE PASTRY CREAM FILLING WITH ORANGE FLOWER WATER. IN THAT CASE, DO PREPARE IT A FEW HOURS AHEAD SO THAT THE AROMAS CAN DEVELOP FULLY.
Ingredients
SIMPLE BRIOCHE DOUGH
  • 4 cups (1 lb. 2 oz. / 500 g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for the work surface
  • 1½ cakes (1 oz. / 30 g) fresh yeast
  • ¼ cup (2 oz., 50 g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 22/3 sticks (10 oz. / 300 g) unsalted butter, softened and diced
PASTRY CREAM
  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
  • 1¼ teaspoons (3 g) skimmed powdered milk
  • ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • Scant ¼ cup egg yolks (2 oz. / 60 g), about 3
  • ¼ cup (2 oz. / 60 g) sugar
  • 2½ tablespoons (1 oz. / 25 g) cornstarch
BEE STING CREAM
  • 2½ sheets (5 g) gelatin
  • 9 oz. (250 g) pastry cream
  • ⅓ cup (2½ oz. / 75 g) egg whites, about 2 ½
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz. / 25 g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) kirsch
  • ⅓ cup (90 ml) whipping cream, whipped to firm peaks
ALMOND–HONEY TOPPING
  • Scant ⅓ cup (3½ oz. / 100 g) multi-floral honey
  • ½ cup (3½ oz. / 100 g) sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange
  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz. / 90 g) butter
  • 1 cup (3½ oz. / 100 g) sliced almonds
EQUIPMENT
  • A 9-inch (23 cm) pastry ring or cutter
Instructions
MAKE THE BRIOCHE
  1. Pour the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle beater (or dough hook). Place the yeast on one side of the bowl and the sugar and salt on the other. Begin kneading at low speed as you add the eggs, one by one.
  2. Increase the speed to high. Gradually add the diced butter and knead for a further 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Dust the work surface lightly with flour. Weigh out 1 lb. 2 oz. (500 g) of the brioche dough, and roll it to a 9½-inch (24 cm) disk that is ¾ inch (2 cm) thick.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator while you proceed with the recipe. Use the leftovers to make yourself a small brioche!
MAKE THE PASTRY CREAM
  1. Bring the milk, powdered milk, and half vanilla bean and seeds to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until very smooth. Sift the cornstarch and carefully incorporate until smooth. Whisk a little of the hot milk into the mixture. Gradually pour in the remaining milk, whisking to combine. Return the liquid to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
  3. Immediately transfer to a mixing bowl and press a sheet of plastic wrap over the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator until cooled.
MAKE THE BEE STING CREAM
  1. Soften the gelatin in a bowl of very cold water.
  2. Whip the pastry cream briskly for 2 minutes until very smooth
  3. Make the meringue: whisk the egg whites with the sugar until they hold a soft peak. Squeeze the water from the gelatin sheets. Warm the kirsch slightly in a saucepan or in the microwave oven and dissolve the gelatin in it. Spoon some of the pastry cream into the kirsch-gelatin mixture and whisk briskly. Scrape into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the remaining pastry cream. With a flexible spatula, fold in the meringue. Carefully fold in the whipped cream.
MAKE THE ALMOND-HONEY TOPPING
  1. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the work surface and have another sheet at hand.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the honey and sugar. Stir in the orange zest.
  3. Stir in the butter and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the sliced almonds and mix to coat them well.
  5. Pour the almond-honey mixture over the parchment paper and cover with the second sheet. With a rolling pin, roll it to a thickness of ⅛ inch (3 mm). Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  6. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and cut out a 9-inch (23 cm) disk. Return it to the freezer.
TO ASSEMBLE
  1. Place the firm almond-honey topping over the brioche dough disk. (If it is not firm enough, return it briefly to the freezer.)
  2. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 1 hour 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F (200°C).
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sides and base are golden.
  5. Allow to cool on a rack.
  6. Cut the brioche in half horizontally. Spread a ½-inch (1 cm) layer of bee sting cream over it and place in the freezer for 30 minutes, until firm. Place the upper half of the brioche with the topping over the cream, pressing lightly so that it holds together. The cake is ready to serve!
Recipe by Honest Cooking by Mercato Fabbrica at https://honestcooking.com/two-new-cookbooks-perfect-kitchen-coffee-table/