Wagner's European Bakery, $3.59
From a storefront only a few blocks from the Washington State Capital, Wagner's European Bakery has been selling German-style pastries, breads, and lunch items since 1938. I like to imagine that much important legislation has been hammered out in a corner booth over kuchen and coffee.
The bienenstich is classed as a cake although the dough is yeasted and similar in flavor and texture to brioche. The pastry is baked in a single thick sheet under a coating of sliced almonds and honey, then split in two and filled with a generous layer of custardy Bavarian cream.
The cake's name is German for "bee-sting" and explanations for this range from the ho-hum to the historically sublime. Sure the name probably refers to the honey-laden cake's potential for attracting vengeful bees, but the romantic in me prefers to see bienenstich as the legacy of a scrappy 15th century military victory. As the story goes, a Bavarian village was buckling under siege when two young bakers turned back the invaders by pelting them with beehives. As an encore, they invented bienenstich--so that cake-eating future generations would never forget their quick thinking and verve.
If you're hankering for some bienenstich but nowhere near a German bakery, this recipe from the blog "Mennonite Girls Can Cook" looks promising.
Wagner's European Bakery and Cafe
1013 Capitol Way S