Zwetschgenkuchen 'German Plum Cake'
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
German Plum Cake known as Zwetschgenkuchen symbolizes that summer is ending and fall is quickly approaching. Here in Germany, every season has a special fresh fruit or vegetable and I just love being inspired by what is seasonal and local. Nothing tastes better than knowing the produce you are baking with is from around the corner.
Zwetschgenkuchen is not meant to be fancy. You won't eat this after dinner at a restaurant. This cake is commonly found in local bakeries and is meant as an afternoon snack with your coffee. It's rustic and doesn't require all that much work. (unless you count, washing and slicing a million mini plums.
Bakeries in Germany are on every corner in every city and village no matter how small. They bake fresh bread, pretzels, and so many sweet treats every day. Being gluten free means that if I want something from these bakeries... well... I have to figure it out on my own.
Here are two photos from two different local bakeries. The first is from Bäckerei Dries in Eltville and the second is from Bäckerei Schröer in Kiedrich. Then after being tempted by such beauty I knew I had to get baking. The last photo you can see how popular these mini plums are. And cheap! I bought almost 2.5lbs (1.1 kilos) for 1.85 Euros... which is 2.18 US Dollars.
Here in Germany, super sweet cakes are actually disliked. Just be aware that this traditional German plum cake has a kick of tartness. These mini plums are more tart than sweet and are arranged in rows on top of a sweet yeast dough and then baked. This cake is super easy to make with few ingredients. It takes a few hours but that is because you have to wait 2 hours for the dough to rise.
If you are not making this gluten free then remember you do NOT need the Xanthan Gum and sub in All-Purpose flour for the Gluten Free flour.
Whether you make the dough in a bread machine (like I do!) or in a stand mixer, you need to make sure to give it time to rest. This dough is not really a bread but it isn't a cake either. It's kind of like a dough for cinnamon rolls.
Photo 1: After the mixing stage.
Photo 2: After 1 hour of rest.
Photo 3: After 2 hours of rest.
This dough is SO soft but also very sticky. I would rather the dough be too sticky at this stage than too dry. You can always add flour to help you to roll it out. I needed to add about a 1/2 cup of flour to this to make it pliable enough to roll out so that it wasn't sticking to everything.
I found it easier to roll it out IN the pan that I would use to bake. I took one of my mini rolling pins and it worked great! Don't have a mini rolling pin. No worries. You can use your hands and spread out the dough or use the side of a glass. Just work gently and raise the edges of the dough just a smidge. This will help when you start to arrange the plums.
These mini plums are SO mini! Teeny-tiny- I could eat 20 of them. They are definitely smaller than apricots. Maybe the size of an oddly shaped golf ball.
You can also have a mixture of really ripe to not so ripe plums. Below you can see on the right the plum is very ripe and on the left it is not ripe at all. Don't worry, go on an use them.
The assembly part of this does take about 10 minutes but in the end it is worth it! You want to lean your plums against the edge. You want them close together without any space showing.
They should be overlapping a little and do not have to be in perfect straight little rows. Remember, this is a rustic cake not a French fruit tart.
I do wish that I bought more plums. I should have had about 1/2 a pound (225g) more, but I think I made it work.
And the dough is SO soft and airy! I Can't wait to eat this!!
I was so happy with how this cake turned out. The edges do stick out a bit, but to me it is like pizza crust, something to hold on to while you eat. However, you can slice it off after the cake cools if you do not like how it looks. But don't throw out the edges. They taste great all on their own.
The base came out golden brown and the tops of the plums lightly crisped, just the way I wanted. You really should make this cake at least a few hours before serving. It is best after the juices have had time to sink into the base dough and get fully absorbed.
I planned this classic traditional German cake for... the wine stand of course! It was too late for coffee so naturally a glass of wine goes really well with this cake. You know me. German desserts belong at a German wine stand and this dessert was perfect! You slice it up in squares and you don't even need to eat it with a fork. Just eat it like a piece of pizza!
We met some friends at our local winestand in Kiedrich and had a huge picnic overlooking the vineyards with... a few or more glasses of local wine.
It just happened to be Weingut (Winery) Prinz that was there this weekend. Funny enough we are not related. Would have been SO cool though if we were! However, they are a sweet and wonderful family owned business and the owner, Philipp Prinz, is absolutely the most bubbly, genuine, and welcoming wine owner that I have ever met.