Pictured: "Oma," Elisabeth Johanna (Westerkamp) Altenkamp, in Germany in 1926.
My great grandmother made this Pflaumenkuchen, or plum cake. Almost all the flavor of the dessert comes from the plums, which release their juices while cooking, adding both a sweetness and a tartness. The best part, though, is the smell of the kitchen as it bakes.
My Oma's Pflaumenkuchen calls for Italian prune plums, but, if you're like me, you might have difficulty finding them. I use regular plums. They're larger, so I only use a dozen (as opposed to the two it calls for), and I quarter them instead of halving them. Depending on what is in season, you're supposed to be able to use apples or apricots in place of the plums. I've never done this myself, but I'm considering trying pears from my parents' pear tree once they've ripened a bit more. Definitely make sure your fruit is ripe.
Also, if you ask Aunt Gerry, Oma always made this cake in two 8-9" round cake pans. My mom insists Oma used a jelly roll pan. Most Pflaumenkuchen recipes online call for a jelly roll pan, but I think the rounds look pretty. I'm going to take the stance that you can use either two 8-9" round pans, or, for simplicity (and, perhaps, to be a little more authentic), use a single jelly roll pan.
One last tip. If you don't bake very often, you might not be familiar with water temperature for yeast. This recipe says to use warm water. Really, for yeast, you want your water temperature to be 100-110 degrees. Hot tubs are typically around 103-105 degrees, so I always shoot for hot tub temperature.
1 package dried yeast
2 Tbsp warm water
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg (room temperature)
2 cups flour
2 dozen purple plums/Italian prune plums
cinnamon and sugar
1) Grease two 8-9" round cake pans or one jelly roll pan
2) Combine yeast and water in a bowl
3) In a saucepan, combine and heat the milk, butter and sugar; allow to cool (it should still be warm but not hot when you pour it over the yeast mixture). Pour it over the yeast mixture.
4) Beat the egg. Add the salt and beaten egg to the yeast mixture.
5) Stir in the flour.
6) Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a slightly greased bowl, cover with a dishtowel and let rise until doubled in bulk.
7) Preheat oven to 375.
8) While dough is rising, cut the plums in half (quarter your fruit if you're using large fruit!) and remove the pits.
9) Punch the dough down. Divide in half if using the two round cake pans. Press the dough into each pan. top with plums, cut side up, pressing them down a little. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar (I'm pretty liberal with my cinnamon and sugar usage!).
10) Bake for 45 minutes