Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake) + Hotel OTTO Review

This Bienstich (bee sting cake) is dairy-free and can be made gluten-free, whole wheat or with all-purpose flour. Plus a review of Hotel OTTO in Berlin!

I rarely post German recipes but I was inspired after having some Bienenstich at a hotel this weekend. Bienenstich is a German brioche-based cake filled with pastry cream and a lovely honey almond topping. I also learned that it’s well-known in South Australia, thanks to the people who commented on my Instagram picture of this cake. I’m not a huge fan of bee sting cake – it’s usually a bit too dry for me and lacking flavor. So I came up with my own inauthentic, more flavorful, yeast-free version!

Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake) – dairy-free and can be made with gluten-free, 100% whole grain or all-purpose flour.

I’m not fond of yeasted cake recipes (the one exception being King Cake!) so I didn’t use brioche dough, but regular cake batter. To make the dough more flavorful, I added some almond extract and a bit of orange juice. The cake base I used yields a super moist cake when baked without the almond topping, but when baked with it, the texture is similar to the traditional Bienenstich cake.

I panicked when I first cut into the cake as the pudding didn’t stay as well put as I had hoped. I looked at some other bee sting cake recipes and found that pretty much everyone had the same issue when it came to cutting the cake. The top layer consists of a caramelized honey and almond topping so it makes sense that it doesn’t cut easily. Then I saw one commenter suggesting that you pre-cut the top almond layer before placing it on the cake. Genius! So I took the top off the top layer of the cake, cut it into pieces and placed it back on the pudding filling. Then it cut perfectly.

Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake) – dairy-free and can be made gluten-free, 100% whole grain or with all-purpose flour.

One issue is that this cake does not keep well. After refrigerating, it becomes quite dense. I recommend filling the cake with pudding right before serving and then devouring it all. :D Truth be told, it’s kind of annoying. This is one of the reasons why I rarely make cake. I prefer cookies, brownies and bars that stay good for days and are super easy to make. We really did like this so I will make it again, but probably only for a special occasion! And now I’ll tell you a little bit about the hotel stay that inspired me to make this bee sting cake.

Hotel OTTO

A lot of friends and readers have asked me for hotel recommendations and since I’ve never stayed at any hotels in Berlin, I’m pretty useless. All I can do is recommend districts, which is about as helpful as suggesting that you stay in Manhattan for your NYC visit.

So I did some research and found Trip Advisor’s 2016 Travelers’ Choice Top 25 Hotels in Germany list. The second on the list is Hotel OTTO. Not only did I love the clean and modern design, but there were rave reviews about the breakfast (which I knew my food-loving readers would be interested in!), and I loved its central location. As a bonus, Hotel OTTO was less than half the price of the next least expensive hotel on the list, which I’m sure everyone can appreciate! The X9 bus from Tegel airport (TXL) brings you right to the hotel in a mere 16 minutes. And the ride is only 2.90€.

We arrived on Saturday evening and left Monday morning. I actually wouldn’t recommend this itinerary because the shops in Germany usually close around 5 or 6 on Saturday and stay closed until Monday morning. Plus if you come to Berlin, you should stay much longer than 1 1/2 days. :)

The rooms

Hotel OTTO Studio Room

If you’re from the US, or even if you’re not, you’ll probably be positively surprised by the room rates at Hotel OTTO! At the time of writing, the studio which you see here starts at 120 euros ($136) and they also have standard rooms starting at 80 euros ($91). And this is for a super central, awesome location. It’s such an incredible value for the money!

Hotel OTTO Studio Room Picture

The room was spacious, light and meticulously clean. It was also pretty quiet considering how close it is to the busy Ernst-Reuter-Platz. Our room overlooked a quiet residential street and you could hear the birds singing in the morning.

Hotel OTTO Studio Room Image

The room has a small living area where you can lean back and kick up your feet after a long day of sightseeing. As a bonus you get to watch what’s going on in the kitchenette! :)

Hotel OTTO Studio Room Photo

Said kitchenette has a small refrigerator with freezer compartment, a stove with two burners, a microwave and the cleanest stainless steel sink I’ve ever seen! Seriously, not a single spot! There’s also an espresso machine, electric tea kettle and a nice selection of coffee and tea.

Hotel OTTO Studio Room Bathroom and Kitchenette

There are 46 rooms in Hotel OTTO and the atmosphere is cozy and relaxed. The staff was incredibly friendly and welcoming, even early on Sunday morning. ;)

The food

We both agree that Hotel OTTO has the best hotel breakfast we’ve ever had. Hands down.

It’s served in the top floor lounge, where there’s a terrace and panoramic views of Berlin. You can also, of course, eat indoors!

For the sweets-loving people, they’ve got you covered. There were pancakes (with real maple syrup), all kinds of homemade jams, fresh fruit cup, granola, yogurt, and pastries and homemade cake.

Hotel OTTO Breakfast Buffet – the sweets section

If you are more the savory type, you’ll be blown away by the variety! So many types of salads, cheese, lunch meat, vegetables, healthy German bread, sausages and on and on and on. Staff kept refilling them, so there were no empty plates at any time. And everything was arranged so nicely – their attention to detail deserves special mention!

Hotel OTTO Breakfast Buffet – the salads

Vegans and vegetarians have lots to choose from and if you have any allergies or intolerances, they’ll prepare something for you if you let them know before your arrival.

Hotel OTTO Breakfast Buffet – savory dishes galore!

Here are two of the plates Mr. Texanerin enjoyed. He even styled them himself. I’m so proud. :D The pancake, fruit and cake you see in the background? Mine, of course!

Breakfast is served from 7am-12pm and then from 2-9pm, they have complimentary cake, coffee, tea, juice and other snacks. They had some cake and pastries from the breakfast but also other cake! And you can see some pudding-less Bienenstich. :)

Hotel OTTO – Complimentary Cake and Coffee

When I’m on vacation, I have to admit that I eat a whole lot of junk so I most definitely appreciated the nice big bowl of fruit.

Hotel OTTO – Complimentary Fruit

Hotel OTTO prepares the breakfast food fresh every day and instead of throwing away what’s left over, they package it up into complimentary snacks. I think that’s so cool!

Hotel OTTO – Snacks to Go

The area

Hotel OTTO is centrally located in the western district of Charlottenburg. In my opinion, there are a lot of dumpy-looking districts in Berlin. Charlottenburg, though? Definitely not! It’s probably the nicest area of Berlin. There are several train, subway and bus stops within a few minutes walk of the hotel that will connect you quickly and easily to the other districts of Berlin.

The Kurfürstendamm, Berlin’s famous shopping street, and the Berlin Zoo are only a 10-minute walk away. About a 15-minute walk in the other direction, you’ve got Tiergarten, Berlin’s largest park. On Sundays, there’s a flea market just outside of Tiergarten, which is perfect for finding odd memorabilia (or some beautiful old silverware in my case).

Flowers outside of Hotel OTTO

They had a bunch of flowers right outside of the hotel and I’m including a picture just because they made me so happy to see. The bees, who were hard at work, certainly loved them, too!

The hotel is located a 5-minute walk away from Savignyplatz, a nice little square surrounded by great restaurants. Kantstrasse, which runs through Savignyplatz, is well-known for its Asian restaurants. We went to Lon Men’s Noodle House, Berlin’s only Taiwanese restaurant and really, really enjoyed it! I recommend their noodle soups and dumplings. Do note that it’s not a fancy restaurant.

There are lots of bakeries, supermarkets, and everything else you could need nearby. Mr. Texanerin wanted me to add a little something for the beer lovers! There’s a store nearby called Ambrosetti. They have a large variety of beer (standard fare, regional beers from Southern Germany that can’t be found in regular supermarkets in Berlin, and a selection of fancy beers from all over the world) for a reasonable price.

Ambrosetti Beer Store in Berlin

Thanks so much to Hotel OTTO for hosting us for the weekend! They have lots more pictures on their website, so be sure to check it out.

Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake) - gluten-free, whole grain, dairy-free options

  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: 8 slices


    For the almond topping:

  • 5 tablespoons (70 grams) coconut oil1, melted
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar or raw sugar
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons honey
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons (73 grams) sliced almonds
  • For the cake:

  • 1 cup + 6 tablespoons gluten-free 1:1 all-purpose mix2, or 1 cup + 6 tablespoons (172 grams) white whole wheat flour3 or all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) melted coconut oil (or another neutral-tasting vegetable oil)
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar or raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract (or orange extract)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • For the pudding:

  • 1 1/4 cups (296 milliliters) milk of choice (soy, almond, cow's milk for a non-dairy-free version, etc. but not canned coconut milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 tablespoons granulated or raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup (32 grams) cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and place a piece of parchment paper over a 8" round cake pan (dark and glass pans aren't recommended). Do not line just the bottom of the pan! Place a full piece of paper over the pan so that the entire thing is lined.
  2. Prepare the topping. Mix together melted coconut oil, sugar, honey, milk and salt. Once combined, add in the sliced almonds. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the melted coconut oil, sugar, orange juice, vanilla, almond extract and eggs. Add the dry cake mixture to the wet and stir just until combined.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan, top with the almond honey mixture and bake for 28-33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Prepare the pudding. In a medium saucepan, whisk together all pudding ingredients, except for the vanilla. Turn the heat on medium and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened – about 8-11 minutes. After about 5 minutes, start to stir constantly. It will go from thin and watery to thick in a matter of seconds. Do not let the pudding boil! It's okay if it boils for a few seconds, but not more. Stir in the vanilla. It will be quite a bit thicker than regular pudding and will thicken even more as it cools. Set aside to cool while the cake continues to cool. If you want to prevent a film from forming, cover with a piece of plastic wrap. I skip that step and just give it a good stir after it's cooled. There will still be some lumps, but you don't notice them in the finished cake.
  8. Assemble the cake. Once the cake has cooled, slice it in half horizontally using a sharp serrated knife. Put the bottom half on the serving plate and top with the pudding. Place the sliced cake pieces on top of the pudding. Serve immediately. This cake gets quite dense once refrigerated so I recommend not assembling it in advance. You can prepare the pudding the day before serving, but then assemble the cake right before serving.


  1. I used refined coconut oil, which doesn't have any coconut taste. If you use unrefined coconut oil in this cake, it will likely have some coconut taste to it.
  2. You can use your favorite gluten-free flour mixture that's a 1:1 substitute for regular all-purpose flour or use the mix I used listed below
    • 129 grams white rice flour
    • 47 grams potato starch
    • 18 grams tapioca flour / starch
    • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  3. If you use white whole wheat flour, there will be some whole wheat taste to the cake!

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38 comments on “Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake) + Hotel OTTO Review” — Add one!

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  • Call Me Impatient says
    July 22, 2016 @ 2:20 am

    Well I should have read all the way through the end. I made the cake tonight for my sons birthday party tomorrow. I was going to wait to assemble the cake tomorrow, but I’m thinking now the cake is not going to fair well overnight in the fridge. Any way of making it work or will I have to make another cake tomorrow? 😕

    • Erin replies to Call Me Impatient
      July 22, 2016 @ 9:02 am

      Sorry for just now replying! I live 6 hours ahead of the East coast so this comment came in during the middle of the night for me. I hope you caught the part of my post (after the second picture) where I say it’s best not to refrigerate it as it gets quite dense and to fill it right before serving. I hope the cake turns out well and that your son has a great birthday!

  • Sheila says
    April 13, 2016 @ 4:45 pm

    Hello Erin, I had trouble with this cake. I have made several of your other cakes with stellar results but not this one. The problem was the topping. It didn’t combine at all. I melted the coconut oil, and added the sugar to the warm oil, then added the rest of the topping ingredients. Nothing combined well and I didn’t want to over mix it and crush the almonds. I added the topping to the cake and once it was baked a large amount of the sugar settled on the bottom of the cake and caramelized. It made removing a piece difficult because it was sticky. The taste was there (no taste of orange though), texture good, except for the bottom so I am at a loss at how to make it look like yours in the photo. I used Bob’s Red Mill GF mix and I measure using a scale when I bake so no incorrect amounts. I slightly over baked the cake because it looked under cooked because of the very soft bottom. Any ideas? Sheila, Ottawa, Canada
    PS Next time I am in Berlin I will definitely try Hotel Otto, thanks for your research :)

    • Erin replies to Sheila
      April 13, 2016 @ 5:00 pm

      Hi Sheila! I’m sorry it didn’t work out well for you. I’ve had such good results with Bob’s Red Mill’s GF 1-to-1 baking mix! Or did you use the one in the red bag – the GF all-purpose mix? That one I’ve never used. I made this cake several times and never had an issue with the topping combining. You have to mix it a little vigorously but it comes together. Did you make any subs at all? And did you place a whole piece of parchment paper in the pan like I mention in Step 1? That should have made removal of the cake super easy. But still, a large amount of sugar shouldn’t have settled on the bottom of the cake! When I made the cake pictured, I didn’t line the whole pan with parchment paper and a little sauce dripped down the sides (you can see that a little cake got stuck to my pan, too, in the first picture). Then I made it again with the full piece of parchment paper and that solved that problem! I’m so bummed it didn’t work out well. I hope that you can still enjoy it and that you’ll enjoy Hotel OTTO if you make it there. :) Thanks for your comment!

  • Andi says
    April 9, 2016 @ 8:52 pm

    First off, that cake looks delicious, it is not a cake I would normally go for, I am a chocolate kind of girl, but it looks light and delicious and perfect with coffee or a cup of tea. I love the minimalist design of the hotel rooms. It is a design style I gravitate towards and I love it when hotel rooms aren’t too fussy. The food looks delish!

    • Erin replies to Andi
      April 10, 2016 @ 2:25 pm

      It really was so delicious! And I’m with you on design. I don’t need much and love the clean and modern look. Such an awesome stay, in every way. :)

  • Nutmeg Nanny says
    April 8, 2016 @ 6:19 am

    This cake so pretty! Even if it doesn’t save well I would be happy to eat it in one sitting….haha. Also I love that they don’t waste the food and package it up as snacks! How smart! Plus Weck jars….swoon!

  • Alexa [] says
    April 8, 2016 @ 3:25 am

    Erin! This is absolutely STUNNING! That almond crust on the top reminds me of the burnt almond torte that’s popular in my neck of the woods! I can’t wait to give the GF version a try reeeeal soon <3

    • Erin replies to Alexa []
      April 9, 2016 @ 8:28 pm

      Aww, thanks! And burnt almond torte?! That sounds yummy! Never heard of that.

  • Justine | Cooking and Beer says
    April 7, 2016 @ 5:43 pm

    This is so fun! I love when recipes are inspired by travels! Thanks for sharing with us. This cake looks amazing!

  • Carrie @Frugal Foodie Mama says
    April 7, 2016 @ 3:41 pm

    I just love recipes inspired by people’s travels! :) And this cake looks absolutely divine.

  • allie @ Through Her Looking Glass says
    April 7, 2016 @ 3:35 pm

    What a great post Erin! Love the cake, and the great cutting tips. The hotel is amazing, though I can’t believe how short a time you stayed. What an incredible breakfast!

  • Lisa | Mummy Made.It says
    April 7, 2016 @ 1:44 pm

    That breakfast buffet looks amazing!! I wouldn’t need to eat again all day (although I probably would with all the other amazing food on offer).
    Yep, we do Bee Stings in Australia. As we tend to do, it can be simplified to a sponge like cake with lots of honey and a cream filling.

    • Erin replies to Lisa | Mummy Made.It
      April 9, 2016 @ 8:29 pm

      Simplified is definitely a good thing! No way am I making a yeasted cake when I could make a non-yeasted one. ;)

  • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
    April 7, 2016 @ 6:38 am

    This looks awesome! I’ve never been a big fan of Bienenstich either but with the adaptations you’ve done I’m sure I’d love yours! Hotel Otto sounds like a fantastic choice for when we visit Berlin the next time, thanks so much for this helpful review, we look forward to checking it out!

  • christine says
    April 7, 2016 @ 2:22 am

    Well, if ever there were a reason to post German recipes, it’s THIS cake. And seriously, that breakfast?! I wish I were waking up to that tomorrow.

    • Erin replies to christine
      April 7, 2016 @ 10:20 am

      So do I! It was a glorious two mornings. :)

  • Charlotte Moore says
    April 7, 2016 @ 2:18 am

    YUM!! It looks very tasty. I love the pudding middle and the almonds.

    Just wanted to tell you when I tested some recipes for you back in July 2014 I froze almost everything. Except what people sampled of course. I found 2 slices of the pumpkin orange cake today in the freezer. I thought oh well I will thaw it out and just see how it is. Well, my husband wanted to know if he could have a piece so he put it in the microwave. Believe it or not he said it was good. It was a little drier but he ate it. I am sure it would have been perfectly fine last year but now we know it was still edible after a year and 8 months. HAHAHA!! I do wrap my stuff real good and double bag them.

    • Erin replies to Charlotte Moore
      April 7, 2016 @ 10:19 am

      Hahaha. I found some cookies I brought back from Amsterdam 1 1/2 years ago and they tasted almost as good as fresh! It’s good to know that that pumpkin cake freezes well. :D I actually posted that cake on the blog. Should I add that tip to the notes? ;) Thanks so much for your comment!

      • Charlotte Moore replies to Erin
        April 7, 2016 @ 12:58 pm

        Funny thing most people would throw it out if it was about 3 or 4 months old. HA!! Good grief at the errors I made in that post. I guess you knew what I meant. HA!! I guess I needed to reread before sending. It really does freeze well if wrapped really good.

        • Erin replies to Charlotte Moore
          April 7, 2016 @ 10:26 pm

          Haha. What typos? I don’t see any typos. ;) Thanks again for your comments! They always make me smile. :)

  • Heather | All Roads Lead to the Kitchen says
    April 7, 2016 @ 1:57 am

    That hotel is definitely beautiful (and so is their food), but what I’m really dying for is a slice of this cake! I happen to adore yeasted cakes…and almonds…oh my gosh that layer is killing me. And the pudding? Totally sending me over the edge. Want.

  • Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts says
    April 7, 2016 @ 1:27 am

    This cake looks amazing, so moist! And I am all for eating all the cake at one time :)
    That hotel looks amazing. That breakfast? Seriously?! I want to come to Germany just to stay there!

  • Brenda@SugarfreeMom says
    April 7, 2016 @ 1:05 am

    I love the name!! Very interesting and a very pretty cake I think. I’m with you though, cake is not my favorite thing to make and I’d prefer easier goodies myself. I too, usually only make cake for holidays and that’s about the most of it. Anyway, the cake looks stunning as does the hotel!

  • The Food Hunter says
    April 7, 2016 @ 12:13 am

    all the food looks amazing…adding to my must stay list the next time I am there

  • Angela says
    April 7, 2016 @ 12:11 am

    Ah, Beinenstich! My grandma and aunt used to make this. It was their traditional “kaffee drinken” cake. I’d nearly forgotten. Of course, there was no moist center, but they usually kept it pretty thin, and had it with lots of coffee. ;) I’ve got to try this one. Thanks again for the bit of nostalgia.

    • Erin replies to Angela
      April 7, 2016 @ 9:51 am

      Keeping it thin and drinking it with lots of coffee is one way to deal with the dryness, I suppose. ;) I’m happy to hear that my post brought back some memories for you. I hope you’ll enjoy the cake if you try it! Thanks for your comment. :)

  • Kelly @ Nosh and Nourish says
    April 6, 2016 @ 11:18 pm

    The perfect solution for cake not keeping well… eating it all, of course! I might even share :)


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