Bienenstich Bars

Bienenstich Bars Recipe from the Monday Morning Cooking Club #jewish #holidays #roshhashanah

Last week, I received an advance copy of a cookbook called the Monday Morning Cooking Club. I’m often sent books by publishers in hopes of a mention/blurb on the site, though lately I haven’t had as much time to cover cookbooks as I’d like. I was about to add this book to my (very large) “to do” pile when something told me to flip through it. I vaguely remembered the story, conveyed in an email or website comment a few years back, about a group of Jewish women in Sydney, Australia. In 2006 they started a group, which they named the Monday Morning Cooking Club. Inspired by the strong connection between food and the Jewish people, their goal was to create a collection of recipes to represent the diversity of Jewish culture. Over the course of several months calls were made, emails were sent, and eventually a list of cooks was developed. These cooks were asked to contribute recipes for the dishes they were best known for – the ones that had been passed down through the generations by family and friends.

The group began their Monday morning meetings in Lisa Goldberg’s kitchen. They shared cups of tea, cooked together and discussed which recipes deserved to be in the pages of their book. After three years of testing, the chosen recipes were compiled and published in a book in Australia. An American version of the book is being released on September 17. As I looked at the recipes, I realized that the book was something special and worthy of sharing with you all. Each recipe includes a brief family history– where the recipe came from, how it evolved within the family, etc.– which makes it a fun (and often touching) read. A business card was attached to the book from Lisa Goldberg, asking to meet with me when she comes to Los Angeles in September. Sadly, I’ll be out of town shooting a new sci fi TV series that I co-wrote (yes, at the moment I write recipes and sci fi, which has proved to be quite a balancing act!). Since I won’t be able to meet with Lisa, I figured the least I could do was share one of the lovely recipes from Monday Morning Cooking Club with you all.

Bienenstich Bars Recipe from the Monday Morning Cooking Club #jewish #holidays #roshhashanah

This Bienenstich recipe that appears in the book comes from Lena Goldstein, whose family grew up in Poland. Lena spent the majority of WWII in the Warsaw Ghetto before escaping to a hidden, overcrowded bunker. When the war ended, she believed she was the only member of her family left. While working for the Jewish Committee, a group that worked to reunite families, she received word that her sister and brother-in-law had also survived. Lena married in Poland and relocated to Australia with her husband in 1949. The recipe was given to her by a German friend who had moved to Sydney before the war, and it has since become a family favorite.

In German, bienenstich translates to “bee sting” (because of the honey used in the topping). More often bienenstich refers to a layered cake with caramelized almonds and vanilla custard. Here, the same concept is applied to simple dessert bars with the cream layer omitted. I thought it would be an appropriate recipe to share for Rosh Hashanah, given the honey element. It turned out delightful– crunchy, chewy, rich and caramelized.

One thing to note– this book, being Australian, has metric measurements. While some ingredients offer converted American ratios within the recipe, others do not, which means you’ll need to use the conversion index at the end of the book (or some simple math) to help you convert certain things. Of course, I’ve already converted this recipe for you. Overall I’d say it’s worth the extra effort, as the recipes are truly special.

All proceeds from the sale of this cookbook benefit charity, making this a very worthwhile project.

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Bienenstich Bars Recipe from the Monday Morning Cooking Club #jewish #holidays #roshhashanah

Bienenstich Bars

Crust Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp (4 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients

  • 1 cup almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp (4 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey

You will also need

  • Mixing bowls, 9x13 baking pan or dish, saucepan
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Servings: 24 square bars
Kosher Key: Dairy
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make crust, combine butter, egg yolks, flours, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
  • Bienenstich Bars Recipe from the Monday Morning Cooking Club #jewish #holidays #roshhashanahMix and squeeze mixture together with your hands until a smooth dough is formed.
  • Bienenstich Bars Recipe from the Monday Morning Cooking Club #jewish #holidays #roshhashanahEvenly spread the mixture into the bottom of a greased, 9x13 baking pan. Set aside.
  • Bienenstich Bars Recipe from the Monday Morning Cooking Club #jewish #holidays #roshhashanahTo make the topping, melt the butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan.
  • Bienenstich Bars Recipe from the Monday Morning Cooking Club #jewish #holidays #roshhashanahOnce melted, add the chopped almonds and stir to combine.
  • Bienenstich Bars Recipe from the Monday Morning Cooking Club #jewish #holidays #roshhashanahPour topping mixture over the crust and spread evenly.
  • Bienenstich Bars Recipe from the Monday Morning Cooking Club #jewish #holidays #roshhashanahBake for 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the baking dish before slicing with a sharp knife.
  • Bienenstich Bars Recipe from the Monday Morning Cooking Club #jewish #holidays #roshhashanahUse a thin spatula to carefully pop the squares out of the baking dish.
  • Bienenstich Bars Recipe from the Monday Morning Cooking Club #jewish #holidays #roshhashanahStore in an airtight container.

Comments (53)Post a Comment

    1. Hi Victoria- self rising flour already has the rising agents in it, so you don’t need to add baking powder or baking soda. It is sold in the same section as the AP flour. To make your own version of self rising flour at home, here is a simple recipe: add 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt for each 1 cup regular AP flour. Got this tip courtesy of Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen. :)

    1. Hi Dori– I used raw, but I think roasted would also work if you prefer that flavor. I kind of liked the texture of the skin-on almonds (plus I think it looks prettier), but slivered would probably work too. The chopping doesn’t really take very long. Enjoy!

  1. Hello Shiksa!

    I’m a German shiksa, living in America now, avid follower of your blog, and I couldn’t help but to get excited when I saw your Bienenstich recipe. It’s my absolute favorite treat from back home! I’m wondering though, if the recipe is already dairy (using butter) why omit the beautiful vanilla cream layer? My grandma used to mix honey and equal parts of whipped cream and vanilla pudding, of which the latter can be made from a gelatine alternative like agar. For me, the cream is what makes this cake perfect and so refreshing on a hot summer’s day, right out of the fridge, as it was usually served in my childhood home. I’d definitely recommend trying it this way as well!

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

    1. Hi Isabel– I can’t say why the cream is omitted here, since this is not my recipe, but Lena Goldstein’s. It’s simply a variation of the cake version, I suppose– and perhaps easier to make than the cake? At any rate, it was lovely without the cream, too. :)

    2. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
      Isabel – can you share the recipe you have that uses the vanilla cream layer? I think that would be a great addition and would like to try that out this week! Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this book and recipe with us, Tori. As a cookbook collector for a very long time, I find the recipe books garnished with stories and personal experiences to be the best ones to cuddle up with and enjoy. I’ll be watching out for this one.

    I give you a lot of credit for the amount of research and effort you put into your blog. I always enjoy stopping by to visit. I’m somewhat amused at your two “adventures” however, I’m confident you can somehow manage all the hats you wear!

    Thank you so much for sharing…

    1. Ha! Yes, Louise, it is all pretty funny. Recipes and sci fi? Quite a combination. The more “hats” that appear, the more I just smile and thank the universe for the many opportunities that come my way. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the blog, and please do check out the book when you have a chance, it’s wonderful. :)

  3. Thank you so much for recommending this book. I don’t know why I find Jewish cuisine so fascinating but I do, and it’s such a niche here in Australia.

    So I’ll be so glad to read this :)

    1. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
      Just received it from the library, and it’s bursting with great recipes, that I’ve already began to prepare for 😛

      So beautifully photographed, thank you again for recommending :)

  4. MMMM I wish there was a GF alternative, and a non dairy alternative. I’m wondering about oatmeal flour for the crust …..

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this recipe yesterday. I had all the ingredients on hand except for self-rising flour. So I used the DIY Smitten Kitchen version you had mentioned in the comments. This recipe is extremely easy to make and the bars are truly delicious. I won’t make these too often because they’re hard for me to resist but I’ll definitely make these for special occasions and/or company. Thanks, Tori, for another great recipe and interesting story.

  6. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi Tori, Mine are in the oven as we speak! SO easy!!! Definitely not for dieters, but perfect to take to parties! Thanks for all of the yummy recipes you share! I’ve made so many already, and because they’re always so much enjoyed, I’ve shared your blog with lots of friends and family! Thank you, thank you! Shana Tova!

  7. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    A friend of mine visited Australia and bought this wonderful book for me as a gift. As I too am from South Africa, I could relate especially to this book but it will be enjoyed by all who love God Jewish foods. I would highly recommend it if you can get hold of it.

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    If you enjoy cookbooks w/stories, please consider “Recipes Remembered” . It is a cookbook w/recipes from Holocaust survivors and they tell their stories for each recipe about their experience in the Holocaust. I purchased this from Qvc and stayed up all evening reading the stories. It is a wonderful cookbook that you will enjoy!

  9. How many bars does this recipe make? Shame you converted the metric back. Shouldn’t America catch up with the rest of the world? Is there a Yiddish name instead of German?

    1. Hi Judy. As the recipe says, it makes 24 small square bars. Here are the metric measurements:

      125 G unsalted butter, room temperature
      2 egg yolks
      100 G plain flour
      100 G self-rising flour
      60 G sugar
      2 tsp vanilla extract

      125 G unsalted butter
      100 G sugar
      2 tbsp honey
      155 G chopped almonds

  10. Thank you for the metric measurements. I am slowly converting all my recipes to metric. It is just so much more accurate and consistent. Hag Sameach.

  11. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made your brisket dish for Rosh Hashana – everyone loved it. As for the challah stuffed with apple/cinnamon/sugar that was superb. It looked beautiful and was so appreciated by all who had some, Thanx so much for your wonderful recipes :-)

  12. Help~!!!! I made these yesterday to bring to Book Club last night~! Followed exactly. After 35 mins. they were so overdone around the edges. Took them out, cooled them, cut them and they seemed almost underdone in the middle. The crust was leaking butter~! BUT, the gals loved them and want the receipe. Before I give it, do you have any help you can give~?? Thanx so very much~! Luvvv your blog~!!

    1. So sorry to hear that Mickie! I’ve only made these once because it’s not a recipe I personally developed, but I didn’t have this issue. I wonder if maybe your oven runs a little hotter than normal, which can sometimes lead to things getting overdone on the outside without being cooked all the way through. Next time put it in the center of your oven, lower the temp by 25 degrees, and start checking them around 30 minutes. They will take longer to cook through than 35 minutes due to the lower temp, but start checking at 30, and if you see them becoming overdone around the edges, put a layer of foil on top to protect the top/edges and let them continue baking till they are cooked all the way through. Hope that helps!

  13. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    These bars look like the perfect combination of almonds with butter and sugar. Can’t wait to try them. I must ask you….I saw a picture of your “Sukkot Tablescape” on Kveller and noticed that you used what appears to be the varicolored Rose goblets sold at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo-I’ve collected these for 20+years! Great minds think alike(I guess)!

    1. Yes Tamar! My mom got me a set for my birthday a few years ago and I’ve been collecting ever since. I grew up in SLO so it’s a nice reminder of home for me. :)

  14. Do you have any recipes for flaky Israeli style halvah? I tried one recipe this week and had an “epic fail” that tasted great but was the texture of sticky toffee, w/o ANY flakes.

  15. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This recipe looks great and references my family name. Most people think I am French but I am Jewish of Polish- Russian descent. I am inspired to create an illustration based on recipe and share it to my relatives!!

  16. You may be aware of this.. but thought I’d let you know this website is posting your complete blog posts.. (link removed)
    I found out from another food writer that I follow on facebook, she is having trouble getting them to take her content off. There are so many links of yours.. thought you should know.

  17. I’ve made several of your recipes to rave reviews. This one has me flummoxed. I’ve made it twice and it just won’t cut nicely eventhough I let it cool overnight. It’s true that I didn’t use self rising flour but substituted the baking powder adjustment instead. Could that make such a big difference? the flavor is terrific but it came out more like topping for ice cream. HELP!

    1. Hi Helene! Technically this is not my recipe, I have only made it once– it is from the cookbook referenced in the blog, so I’m not super familiar with it. I had good luck with it when I made it, and it did slice well for me, though the edges and crust tended to crumble a bit. I’m so sorry, I wish I could help you more!

  18. After having your date walnut and honey cake, can’t wait
    to try these. Is the baking pan 9 x 13 inches or centimetres?
    sounds a sill question!!

  19. I made this recipe for Rosh Hashanah. I didn’t have self-rising flour, so I used the adjustment with baking powder. It baked and sliced well, but when I took it out of the pan, the crust just crumbled, so that we ended up just eating the top part (which was delicious). I saw that you said that it was not really your recipe, but do you have any suggestions for me?
    Thanks, Tori and I wish you and your family L’Shanah Tovah!

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