Almost a year ago I stopped by Patisserie Bechler in Pacific Grove to pick up a beehive cake; they were closed and so I opted for something else. The name must have intrigued him, because today Riley asked me to make one. "Mom, can you make that cake that you were going to get from the bakery by Caledonia Park after JustRun last year except the bakery was closed, remember?" Yes, that is seriously how his mind works. It sounded like a good challenge for this rainy Sunday.
Never having made one, I started with Basque Boulangerie Cafe's beehive cake recipe on the Food network website and promptly made some changes. And here's how you know it's a success: all three of the boys are licking their plates. No joke.
Part I: The Cake
2 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 t pink Himalaya salt
1 package active dry yeast
1 T organic granulated sugar
1/4 C warm milk
3 T butter, melted and cooled
Sift flour and salt together into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add yeast and sugar to the well. Blend milk, cooled melted butter, and egg; let sit for 2 minutes to soften yeast, whisk yeast and liquid ingredients to dissolve yeast. Gradually whisk or beat in flour until well-blended. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead in enough flour only until dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading approximately 5 to 7 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Cover dough with a towel or plastic wrap and let dough rest approximately 30 to 45 minutes. During this first rise, make the custard.
Punch dough down. Roll or pat dough into 9 inch, greased pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Spread cooled honey almond praline over dough. Let cake rest and double in height approximately, 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. During this second rise, make the praline.Bake until golden approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
Part II: The Custard
2/3 C organic granulated sugar
4 T cornstarch
4 egg yolks
2 C milk
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 C water
2 C heavy cream
1/4 C sugar
2 t pure vanilla extract
First place the sugar and cornstarch in a small to medium pan. In a bowl, mix the egg yolks and milk together. Whisk them into the sugar and starch mixture in the pan. Cook this over low heat and gradually increase to a medium heat bringing the mixture to a boil. The mixture will bubble slowly. Whisk this bubbling mixture for 3 to 4 minutes and remove from heat.
Soak the gelatin in a 1/4 cup of warm water for 5 minutes. Add gelatin mixture to hot custard and whisk. Set aside to cool in a clean bowl. Cover with plastic to keep mixture from crusting and refrigerate until cool.
After mixture has cooled, whip cream, sugar, and vanilla to medium peaks. Fold whipped cream into cooled custard. Refrigerate until ready to fill split cake layers.
Part III: The Praline
The recipe calls for almonds, I still had hazelnuts from last week's trip to the farmers' market. I think I prefer hazelnuts' more pronounced flavor.
1/2 stick butter
1/3 C organic granulated sugar
1/4 C raw honey
3/4 C hazelnuts
Melt the butter, add sugar and honey, cook until bubbly and beginning to turn into a caramel sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the hazelnuts. Let this mixture cool.
Part IV: Putting It All Together
Cut cooled cake in half to make 2 layers. Drizzle raw honey over bottom layer. Top with the custard mixture. Place the top layer over the custard and refrigerate or freeze for several hours to firm up custard before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Whoops! Didn't read that part about letting the custard firm. Mine definitely wasn't firm. Next time.