Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Oma's Pflaumenkuchen

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


Raymond Vagell said...

I love the recipe! Been trying to find a really good Pflaumenkuchen recipe and made this yesterday. Love it. Thanks to your oma!

Tanif Stephenson said...

Thank you so much for an authentic Pflaumenkuchen recipe. My Oma doesn't have one and I found out the one I was using was actually for Zwetschgenkuchen. I kept wondering why it was different from what I remembered. Danke Schoen!

whirledpeas1129 said...

Bitte shoen! I just made this recipe again yesterday (this time using the Italian prune plums), and my husband ate almost the whole thing already! There are only two pieces left.

Nadine @ Chic with the Kool-Aid Mustache said...

Score!! I'm so glad I found this recipe...i've been craving this sweet yeasty treat for years and this one sounds just like my Mom and Oma's! Can't wait to try it.

Anonymous said...

3 years later I found you blog thanks to google in search of a simple yeast dough recipe for plum cake and by the looks (in oven) it comes out nicely. Love the simplicity of cups for measure. Thx f sharing. Andrea in London

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