Abraham is book 2 in my new Petershiem Brothers Amish Romance series. The Petersheim Brothers are nicknamed “The Peanut Butter Brothers” in their small Amish community in Wisconsin because they make and sell gallons of peanut butter every year.
The Petersheim Brothers live in the same Amish community as Aunt Bitsy and the Honeybee Sisters, and beloved Aunt Bitsy makes an appearance in all three Petersheim Brothers books, Andrew, Abraham, and Austin.
Bitsy, the Honeybee Sisters’ eccentric aunt, with her trusty shotgun and her troublesome cats, likes to stick her nose where it doesn’t belong and likes it even better if at least four people in the district are mad at her. Bitsy helps the Petersheim twins out of a lot of trouble but also gets them into quite a bit of trouble in Abraham.
Aunt Bitsy is an excellent cook, and one of her specialties is Bienenstich Cake or Bee Sting Cake. This cake is guaranteed to make any Amish boy fall in love with you. It is made with yeast, so the cake has more of a bread consistency—moist and light. The recipe is quite involved, but the cake is absolutely delicious and worth every minute.
Aendi Bitsy’s Bienenstich Cake
1 1⁄4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3⁄4 cup whole milk, warmed just over room temperature with 1 tablespoon raw honey added
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 cup bread flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Combine the yeast and milk with honey and let sit for five minutes. Cream the butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Add bread flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. The batter will be thick, like dough, so if you are not Amish and you use electricity, you can mix this together in a stand mixer at low to medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. If you are Amish, you’ve just got to use your muscles. Add eggs and mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 60 minutes until the dough is a little puffy. It won’t fully double.
Butter a 9-inch round spring form pan. Stir the batter a few times to deflate it slightly, then scrape it into the prepared pan and spread it until it fills the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap (don’t let the plastic sag and touch the dough) and let it rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°.
Honey Almond Topping:
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄3 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 1⁄2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 pinches of sea salt
1 1⁄2 cups sliced almonds
In a small or medium saucepan, stir butter, sugar, honey, cream, and salt over medium heat until butter is melted. Stirring frequently, bring to a simmer and let boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture goes from a yellowish color to a light beige. Remove from heat and stir in the almonds.
Once the cake has finished its second rise—remember that it won’t rise significantly—press the dough lightly to deflate it. Spoon the almond topping evenly over the top of the cake.
Bake cake for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is a lovely golden-brown color and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Be sure to put a foil-lined cookie sheet under your spring form pan in case the almond topping drips.
Transfer to a cooling rack and let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, run a knife between the cake and the pan and remove the outer ring. Let cool completely.
Pastry Cream Filling:
1 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 pinches sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract (I use almond)
Warm milk in a medium saucepan (not too warm or it will scald). Set aside. Rinse saucepan with cool water and dry it. In the cool saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and sugar for 1 minute. Whisk in flour and salt until smooth. Drizzle in warm milk a spoonful at a time while whisking continuously. Once you add half of the milk, you can add the rest in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook on medium-high heat until the mixture bubbles. Keep whisking, and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and either the vanilla or almond extract. Cool the pastry cream completely—either in the fridge or over a bowl of ice water.
To assemble the cake: Once both the cake and pastry cream are cooled, place the cake on a serving platter and cut it horizontally into two layers with a serrated knife. Spread pastry cream over bottom half of the cake. Place the top half of the cake on top of the pastry cream.
You can make the dough and pastry cream a day ahead and refrigerate it. It’s quite a bit to do in one day.
Jennifer Beckstrand is the award winning Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and The Honeybee Sisters series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in Examiner.com list of top ten inspirational books for 2014. Visit JenniferBeckstrand.com for recipes, upcoming events, and news about books and giveaways.