As promised last week, I wanted to share the recipe for the German plum cake with you. I feel like plums or Zwetschgen, as they’re called in German, are not on a lot of people’s radar, especially for baking. And you guys, we need to change this because OMG, baked plums are so freakin’ good. And this sheet cake is so easy to make – if you can find the right plums, that is.
You need Italian (Empress) plums for this cake. They’re a little smaller, have an oblong shape, and dark purple skin. They’re sweet, sometimes a little tart, and get a deeper flavor when baked. They’re usually in season for a few weeks in the late summer/early fall and your best bet is finding them at the local Farmer’s Market.
There are many popular recipes for this type of cake with different kind of cake bases (e.g. quark-oil dough or shortcake), but my family prefers a yeast-based cake. Lots of people shy away from yeast dough, but I feel like it’s one of the easiest doughs to prepare. You just need a little time and patience.
For the cake:
- 2 kg (about 4 pounds) Italian (Empress) plums, cut into quarters, pits removed
- 180 ml (3/4 cup) warm milk or milk substitute (I used soy)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast
- 500g (4 cups) bread or pastry flour
- 150g (3/4 cup) sugar
- 1 sleeve vanilla sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 113g (1 stick) unsalted butter (1/2 cup melted but not hot)
- 2 eggs
For the streusel:
- 125g (1 cup) bread or pastry flour
- 200g (1 cup) sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 113g (1 stick = 1/2 cup) butter at room temperature
- Stir the yeast in the 3/4 cup of warm milk and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until dissolved and frothy.
- Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and pour in the yeast mixture, melted warm butter, eggs and vanilla extract. Use a dough hook and knead the dough on slow for 4-5 minutes, adding a little extra milk if necessary. (The dough should be sticky but hold together fairly well. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and set it in a warm, draft free place to rise for an hour or until about doubled in size.)
- Grease a large, deep baking pan (at least 18 inches in length and 1 inch deep) with butter or baking spray.
- Use your hands to spread the dough out across the full length of the pan, pressing it up against the sides. Lay the plums tightly in rows over the whole length of the dough on the sheet pan.
- Let the cake rest and rise for about another hour.
- To make the streusel: Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and use your fingers to bring it all together. Work with the mixture until it’s thoroughly combined and forms a rough sand and clumpy texture. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the cake.
- Bake the cake on the middle rack of the preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden.
- Let the cake sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing to let some of the liquid set. Slice the cake into squares and serve.
*This sheet streusel cake holds up well for a day or two and you can easily freeze it by the slice, too. Take it out for a few hours to defrost and heat up in the microwave for a half minute.
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Let me know if you try this and how you liked it. Jon is a big fan!