Traditional German Plum Cake (Zwetschgenkuchen)

German plum cake, also known as Zwetschgenkuchen is a culinary highlight in late summer and autumn in Germany. The cake with made with simple yeast dough, a layer of plums and a delightful streusel topping.

It is a known secret that in Germany we love seasonal fruit and streusel. Be it the simple German Streusel cake or an Apple Streusel Cake.

Traditional German Plum Cake (Zwetschgenkuchen)

About German Plum Cake

German Plum Cake is a simple plum sheet cake, that is traditionally made with a yeast base. Today you can find bases such as a shortcrust or a quark base.

It is a very popular summer cake and how it is served depends on which region in Germany you are in.

In Pfalz, Rheinhessen and Franconia, it is popular to serve the plum cake with German Potato Soup, or another vegetable soup. In Saarland, it is common to serve plum cake with a Green Bean Soup.

Mostly you will find it served with a dollop of freshly whipped up cream.

What is Plum Cake called in German?

Pflaumenkuchen, Zwetschgendatschi, Zwetschgenkuchen – there are many different names for Plum Cake in Germany. It again depends on the Region.

  • Pflaumenkuchen is the most common name for plum cake and “Pflaumen” literally translated means plums and speaks for the whole plum family and “kuchen” means cake.
  • “Zwetschgen” are a special kind of plum variety- in English called Empress Plum or Italian Plums. So if these plums are used the cake is often called “Zwetschgenkuchen”.
  • Zwetschgendatschi is the term used in Bavaria, Baden-Würtenberg and Austria.
  • Quetschkuche is the name used in Hessia, Rhinland-Palatinate and Saarland.

How to make

Ingredients

For the yest dough

  • flour (Germany Type 405, UK Plain Flour, USA Pastry or cake flour)
  • instant yeast 1 packet, or ½ cube of fresh yeast
  • milk
  • sugar
  • butter
  • lemon peel
  • egg yolk
  • salt

For the crumble topping

A white plate with Italian Prunes

Recipe Steps

  1. Warm up the milk until it is lukewarm. Then add the yeast and sugar and mix well. Leave to rest for 10 minutes. You should see bubbles forming on the surface, which means the yeast is activated. If the yeast does not bubble, then the milk might be too hot, throw away and you start again.
  2. Add the yeast milk to the flour, egg yolks, salt and lemon peel. Using a stand or hand mixer with a dough hook, knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with a towel and leave to rise at a warm place for appox. 30 min see tips below for working with yeast)
  3. In the meantime, place the butter in a saucepan and carefully melt it. Once it is melted remove from the heat and combine with the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Mix until you achieve a fine crumble.
  4. Wash the plums and drain them. Slice them at both sides crosswise. On one of the sides, slice the prune open and remove the stone.
  5. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees
  6. Once the yeast dough has risen, briefly knead it on a floured surface. Then roll it out, using a rolling pin to the approximate size of your baking tray. Either line the baking try with baking parchment or crease it with butter. Lay the rolled dough into the baking pan.
  7. Arrange the plums like roof tiles (see picture) on the dough and sprinkle the crumble on top.
  8. Bake for approximatley 30-35 minutes.
  9. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Recipe Variations

There are many variations of this recipe. Some leave out the streusel to save some calories, others use a different base. Here are some suggestions

  • remove the streusel, and instead sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over the plums. This will give a similar sweet sour taste.
  • Use a shortcrust base instead of a yeast base. For example you can use the base of the apple streusel cake- and simply replace the apples with plums.
  • Try different plums – Zwetschgen are difficult to get hold of ourside Europe, so simply replace the Italian prunes with another variety.

How to store plum cake

This Pflaumenkuchen tastes best fresh, as it is a yeast dough. However it will keep in the fridge without any problems for up to 3 days.

Can you freeze it?

Yes this cake without the cream will last can be frozen in portions. It will stay good up to three months. The crumbles might not be as crispy as they were before they were frozen.

Traditional German Plum Cake (Zwetschgenkuchen)

Traditional German Plum Cake (Zwetschgenkuchen)

Marita

Try this deliciously simple german plum cake with streusel. Made with a yeast dough and fresh Italian Plums

Prep Time 15th mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Resting Time 40 mins

Total Time 1 hr 25 mins

Course Dessert

Cuisine German

Ingredients

  • 300 g flour (Germany Type 405, UK Plain Flour, USA Pastry or cake flour)
  • 2 test instant yeast 1 packet, or ½ cube of fresh yeast
  • 125 ml milk
  • 40 g sugar
  • 150 g butter at room temperature
  • 1 test grated lemon peel
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt
  • butter to grease the pan (optional)

For the Crumble Topping

  • 150 g flour
  • 75 g sugar
  • 75 g butter
  • 2 test ground cinnamon
  • 1 test vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Warm up the milk until it is lukewarm. Then add the yeast and sugar and mix well. Leave to rest for 10 minutes. You should see bubbles forming on the surface, which means the yeast is activated. If the yeast does not bubble, then the milk might be too hot, throw away and you start again.

  • Add the yeast milk to the flour, egg yolks, salt and lemon peel. Using a stand or hand mixer with a dough hook, knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with a towel and leave to rise at a warm place for appox. 30 min see tips below for working with yeast)

  • In the meantime, place the butter in a saucepan and carefully melt it. Once it is melted remove from the heat and combine with the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Mix until you achieve a fine crumble.

  • Wash the plums and drain them. Slice them at both sides crosswise. On one of the sides, slice the prune open and remove the stone.

  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees

  • Once the yeast dough has risen, briefly knead it on a floured surface. Then roll it out, using a rolling pin to the approximate size of your baking tray. Either line the baking try with baking parchment or crease it with butter. Lay the rolled dough into the baking pan.

  • Arrange the plums like roof tiles (see picture) on the dough and sprinkle the crumble on top.

  • Bake for approximatley 30-35 minutes.

  • Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Keyword German Plum Cake, Pflaumenkuchen, Zwetschgendatschi, Zwetschgenkuchen

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