Autumn announces its arrival with colourful leaves and Zwetschgenkuchen; at least for me. The days might be getting shorter, but nature, in exchange, is offering us a spectacle of colours with various shades of yellow, orange, red, purple and brown. I love this season! I just love dried leaves cracking under my feet in the woods, the smell of foggy mornings and of raked leaves in my garden, the last warm rays of sun and the site of plums in the market!
I still remember the buckets full of plums from my in-laws’ own tree that I used to get in time to make the juiciest, tartest pie ever. The rich harvest of old and healthy plum trees in private households means a lot of jam making and baking, but also of sharing with family and friends. Plum trees are seldom found in new home gardens these days either because lands are getting smaller, or because people are getting busier with both partners going to work. Plums in a bucket in front of your doorsteps have surely become something special!
There are many recipes for plum cake, but this one has been my favourite ever since I was introduced to it. After I had already been surprised by the very moderate sweetness of German desserts that had changed my taste buds forever, I had my first encounter with tartness in a plum pie in the autumn of my first year in Germany. It was love at first bite!
For this recipe I use a 32-cm baking pan. As size of pans differs from country to country I would recommend 14-inch/ 36-cm round pan or pie dish. You can also use an 9″x11″ sheet instead. Last tip: you might need more plums depending on the size you are using, so have a few more at hand!
- 60 ml lukewarm milk
- 1 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 250 g all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 45 g granulated sugar
- 45 g soft butter
- 1 medium egg
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
- For the topping:
- 750 g plums rinsed, pitted and quartered
- 100 g all-purpose flour
- 60 g granulated sugar
- 75 g melted butter plus 1 tablespoon to grease the dough surface
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- In the bowl of your stand mixer if using, combine the flour, sugar and salt.
- In a small bowl dissolve the yeast and ½ teaspoon sugar in the milk. Cover with a saucer for 10 minutes, or until it starts to foam.
- Make a small well in the flour mixture and pour in the yeast. Break the egg over the yeast and sprinkle with lemon zest and vanilla. Distribute the soft butter on the edges.
- Using the hook attachment knead on speed 2 until the dough comes together about 5 minutes, and becomes smooth and pliable. Form the dough into a ball and place in a slightly greased bowl. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rest in a warm, quiet place for two hours until double in size.
- Cover the bottom of a 32-cm pie dish with parchment paper. Preheat oven (175°C/350°F).
- Roll out the dough on a slightly floured surface and transfer to the prepared sheet. Grease the surface of the dough with the one tablespoon melted butter and arrange the plums on it.
- Prepare crumb: Mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and gradually add the lukewarm melted butter. Mix with a fork until clumps form. Spread evenly over the plums. Bake on second lower rack for about 40 minutes.