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German Plum Cake – Zwetschgenkuchen Recipe

by Adina 16/09/2020 12 comments

slices of zwetschgenkuchen and small plums on a baking tray
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Last Updated on 16/09/2020 by Adina

German plum cake, Zwetschgenkuchen or Pflaumenkuchen with streusel, a classic recipe in any German kitchen or bakery.

This traditional German plum cake is one of my favorite autumn cakes, one of the most popular cakes in Germany. Nothing speaks more of autumn, crisp air, and delicious cakes than this amazing Zwetschgenkuchen, a typical streusel cake or Pflaumenkuchen mit Streusel.

plum streusel cake on a platter

Any German person who bakes has probably baked this plum cake before. Anyone who doesn’t bake probably buys it at the bakery every autumn. It is the quintessence of an autumn cake: the yeasty dough, the sweet and sour plums, the crispy, sweet streusel topping. I love it so!

You can then have it fresh from the oven, still a bit warm, fluffy underneath, moist and rather sour in the middle, crisp and sweet on top. It can hardly get any better!

easy plum cake german recipe

How to make German plum cake?

The yeast dough:

  • I have been working with yeast a lot during the last 10 years. I know that many people are intimidated by yeast, but you really should give it a try. Yeast is nice, easy and the few minutes kneading can be managed by anyone.
  • If you have a food processor, even better, the machine can do the kneading for you as well as the streusel.
  • I usually use fresh yeast to make any kind of yeast dough. However, I know that fresh yeast is not available everywhere, so since I have started blogging I use active or instant dry yeast a lot. It works.
bowls with yeast dough before and after kneading
  • One major difference is that dough made with dry yeast needs a longer rising time than dough made with fresh.
  • When making this Zwetschgenkuchen with fresh yeast, the dough needs about 30-40 minutes (depending on how warm my kitchen is), while dough made with active dry yeast needs about an hour, sometimes an hour and 10 minutes.
  • Keep an eye on the dough and continue with the recipe as soon as the dough has doubled in size.
  • If you leave the dough for too little time and it doesn’t have enough time to rise, the end product will be rather flat and less fluffy. But if you leave the dough to rise too much is not good either. The dough will lose its power and sink during the baking process. So, leave it until about doubled in size.
  • You will need ½ cube fresh yeast for making this plum streusel cake. ½ cube is 21 g/ 0.7 oz in Germany.
slices of german plum cake

Steps to make dough:

  • Place the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl. Mix well with a spoon.
  • Pour the milk to a small pot and heat it very gently. It should only have about 36 degrees Celsius/ 96 degrees Fahrenheit, so body temperature. If it is hotter it will destroy the yeast and the dough will not rise.
  • Add the butter and the active dry yeast to the milk and stir until the butter has melted.
  • Pour the milk mixture and the lightly beaten egg to the flour mixture.
  • Knead the dough with the hand-held mixer fitted with dough hooks. Knead as long as possible to combine everything well together.
  • Turn the mixture onto the working surface and knead the dough with your hands for a couple of minutes.
  • Form a ball, place it back into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place. The dough will need about an hour until about doubled in size.
slice of german zwetschgenkuchen

How to make streusel?

  • Either mix the ingredients in the food processor until the mixture turns to crumbs.
  • Or rub the cold butter into the flour mixture until you obtain the crumbs.
  • However, if using your hands only rub the butter and the flour with your fingertips, the palms of your hands are too warm for this. Hold the fingers under cold water before doing this, dry them well and then start rubbing the butter into the flour.
  • Place the bowl with the streusel in the refrigerator until ready to use.
how to make streusel for plum cake

The plums

What are Zwetschgen?

  • I always use Zwetschgen to make this Zwetschgenkuchen recipe.
  • They are a smaller sort of plums, dark and sweet-sour, also known as Italian plums or European plums. They grow just about every corner around here.
  • I prefer to use Zwetschgen or Italian plums when making this recipe because they are less juicy than regular large plums so the dough will not get soaked.
  • They are also much easier to cut from the stone, giving you this beautiful butterflied plums to cover the cake with.
  • They are less sweet than regular plums, a sweet sour taste, which develops even more during the baking process.
zwetschgenkuchen, German Plum Cake – Zwetschgenkuchen Recipe

Assemble

  • While the dough is rising, remove the stones from the plums. Don’t cut the plums all the way through, they should remain attached on one side. You will need more or less 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs plums, just keep going until you topped all of your dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line a large baking tray with baking paper. My tray is 30×40 cm/ 12×16 inches. Roll the yeast dough with a rolling pin to match the size of the tray. Carefully place the dough on the tray and stretch and press with your fingers until everything fits.
  • Arrange the stoned plums on top.
  • Sprinkle the streusel on top of the plums and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown.
  • Let stand for about 20 minutes before slicing.
unbaked plum cake with streusel on a baking tray

How to serve?

  • Yeast cakes are always best served on the day you bake them. However, leftovers are still delicious the next day, but not as fluffy and fresh anymore.
  • You can serve the German plum cake as it is or sprinkle it with some icing sugar. Traditionally, you would whip some heavy cream and top it with a generous dollop just before serving.
  • You can serve it lukewarm as well. In this case, serving it with a dollop of slowly melting vanilla ice cream on top is just heaven.
how to make german plum cake

More traditional German cakes:

Red Currant Cake

Blitzkuchen

Apple Crumble Cake

Rhubarb Meringue Pie

Mandarin Orange Cake

plum streusel cake german recipe

German Plum Cake – Zwetschgenkuchen Recipe

Yield: 20
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

German plum cake, Zwetschgenkuchen or Pflaumenkuchen with streusel, a classic recipe in any German kitchen or bakery.

Ingredients

  • Yeast dough:
  • 350 g/ 12.3 oz/ 3 cups flour
  • 50 g/ 1.7 oz/ ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
  • 150 ml/ 5 oz/ 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 sachet active dry yeast (7 g/ 0.25 oz) (See note)
  • 50 g/ 1.7 oz/ scant ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • Streusel:
  • 250 g/ 8.8 oz/ 2 cups flour
  • 125 g/ 4.4 oz/ ½ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 150 g/ 5.3 oz/ scant 2/3 cup unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Topping:
  • about 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs Italian plums (more or less as needed to cover the cake)

Instructions

Yeast dough:

  1. Place the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl. Mix well with a spoon.
  2. Pour the milk to a small pot and heat it very gently. It should only have about 36 degrees Celsius/ 96 degrees Fahrenheit, so body temperature. If it is hotter it will destroy the yeast and the dough will not rise.
  3. Add the butter and the active dry yeast to the milk and stir until the butter has melted. Pour the milk mixture and the lightly beaten egg to the flour mixture.
  4. Knead the dough with the hand-held mixer fitted with dough hooks. Knead as long as possible to combine everything well together. Turn the mixture onto the working surface and knead the dough with your hand for a couple of minutes.
  5. Form a ball, place it back into the bowl, cover the bowl with a clean cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place. The dough will need about an hour until about doubled in size.



Streusel:

  1. Place the flour, sugar, and cinnamon into the food processor. Pulse shortly to mix.
  2. Add the very cold butter, cut into cubes, and process shortly until the streusel form. Place in the refrigerator until needed.
  3. If you want to make the streusel without the food processor, mix the flour, cinnamon, and sugar in a bowl, add the cold butter cubes on top, and cut the butter into the flour until you obtain the streusel. If doing this with your hands, only use your fingertips, if you use your palms the butter will get warm too quickly.


Topping:

  1. Remove the stones from the plums while the yeast dough is rising. Don't cut the plums all the way through, they should remain attached on one side.


Assembling the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a large baking tray of about 30x40 cm/ 12x16 inches with baking paper.
  3. Roll the yeast dough with a rolling pin to match the size of the tray. Carefully place the dough on the tray and stretch and press with your fingers until everything fits.
  4. Arrange the stoned plums on top.
  5. Sprinkle the streusel on top of the plums and bake the cake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown.
  6. Let the cake stand for about 20 minutes before slicing it and serve as suggested above.

Notes

If using fresh yeast you will need 21 g/ 0.7 oz of it. The dough will probably rise quicker in this case, so check after 30-40 minutes already and proceed with the recipe if the dough has doubled in size.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1 piece
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 246Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 36mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 2gSugar: 14gProtein: 4g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.

 
12 comments
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12 comments

Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop 16/09/2018 - 14:14

This cake looks so great. I find it interesting that the bottom layer is a yeast dough. This is a different way of making a cake. I’ll need to give it a try.

Reply
Thao @ In Good Flavor 17/09/2018 - 02:22

I have never seen with fresh yeast, but I can probably find it if I look hard enough. This plum cake looks delicious, Adina! I’m loving the sound of the sour plum contrasting with the sweet streusel. ?

Reply
Kelly | Foodtasia 17/09/2018 - 16:22

Such a lovely cake! Plum cakes are definitely one of my favorites for fall – reminds me of my grandmother’s Hungarian plum cake 🙂

Reply
grace 23/09/2018 - 21:32

i’m fascinated by the yeasted dough base–what a great added flavor and texture in contrast to a regular ol’ shortbread!

Reply
Alyssa 20/03/2019 - 10:23

Adina, what a gorgeous cake! Your directions make this seem like such an easy approach, too. I would love to make this soon!

Reply
Olga 21/03/2019 - 19:18

It looks awesome! So much flavors packed on this recipe that makes this simply irresistible, definitely having this on my table!

Reply
Adina 22/03/2019 - 07:52

Thank you, Olga. I think you would like it! 🙂

Reply
Alina 07/04/2019 - 21:22

It looks so yummy! I love the step-by-step instructions, making it an easy recipe to follow!

Reply
Adina 07/04/2019 - 22:28

Thank you, Alina.

Reply
Isabella 07/09/2020 - 15:24

Thank you, for this authentic version!

Reply
Adina 07/09/2020 - 16:43

You’re welcome. My mother-in-law’s/grandma-in-law’s recipe. 🙂

Reply
Karen (Back Road Journal) 22/09/2020 - 19:24

Every year that we are in Germany, I make sure to order Pflaumenkuchen. I didn’t realize that it was made with a yeast dough.

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