Traditional German Plum Cake

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I was asking for a local source for Damson plums so I could make plum cake? Well, I found them, but where I least expected to!

Damson Plums

I found them at Kauffman’s Fruit Farm and Market in Bird-In-Hand, PA. I was hoping to get some peaches, maybe a little apple cider, but these beauties just hopped out at me. My eyes went wide, I pulled on Paul’s sleeve and pointed and said “Look!” – his eyes followed, and he asked, “Damsons?” – I told him, “If not, they’re close enough!” – Needless to say, we left the store with 3 quarts of these puppies.

Come to find out that they are Italian Prune Plums, a European plum which is smaller and tarter than the sweeter Japanese plums we’re used to. These aren’t meant for eating out of hand, but are wonderful in cakes and in jam. I also found out that the season is just starting (I got some of the very first harvest), so you may see these in our local farmer’s markets – keep an eye out.

Either way, the plums wouldn’t keep until the weekend, so once we got home, Paul and I did an unusual midweek baking/jam making session. We worked on the cake together – he with the yeast dough, and I with the the plums, and made this wonderful Traditional German Plum Cake (Zwetschgenkuchen) that is just like my Oma’s was, right down to the slightly sweet yeast crust. This recipe is definitely a keeper – the crust holds up well to the juicy plums. We’re even going to try to replicate Oma’s Apfelkuchen based on this recipe.

German Plum Cake

I overestimated the amount of plums we’d need (we would have been fine with 2 quarts), so we had tons left over, and we made a batch of Damson Plum Jam that tastes wondeful, but is a little runnier than I like because it was made without pectin and Paul assumed it was done when it hit the gel point and took it off a bit prematurely. Either way, it will be great drizzled over fresh biscuits, or used as the base of a plum sauce.

Homemade Damson Plum Jam

I hope I see these locally in the weeks to come, because there are still so many other plum recipes I’d love to try. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

12 thoughts on “Traditional German Plum Cake

  1. Oooohhh, marvelous! That Zwetschgenkuchen looks terrific! Plums are some of my favorite summer fruits. They are so versatile…

  2. There’s something so wonderful about the colour of a ripe plum. That deep burgundy is simply unrivaled. Funnily enough my dad made a really nice Moroccan tagine with greengages the other day. Have you tried them before?

  3. Congratulations for finding your plums. I really thought of sending some plums from Germany to you, but I couldn’t think of a feasible way. ;-)
    I am quite happy for you. I baked a Zwetschgenkuchen these days and had to be quick to get a piece for myself. :-)

    By the way: Did you get my email about the ‘marrow dumplings’?


  4. Becke – Thank you for telling me about your efforts in the German plum cake arena. Yours certainly looks beautiful, and I have to say that the Italian Prune Plums are an inspired choice – they are amongst my favorite plums to bake with, and I adore their bright orange flesh. I look forward to hearing about your apfelkuchen.

  5. Where can I find Damson Plums in central ohio? I am craving my grandmother’s plum jam and know that they are in season…

  6. you can also find these plums at Lynd’s fruit farm. I recently bought some for my German grandfather who makes the cake as well. Its worth the search for me because I am the only one in the family that likes it!

  7. I am longing for my Oma's plum cake. The picture looks the same as the one she used to make. Could you please forward me the recipe?

    Thank you!

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