German Plum Cake (zwetschgenkuchen)

This is one of my favorite desserts. This is a German plum cake. Traditional German cakes (kuchen = cake) are either made with a batter like this one or with yeast. I mostly make the yeasted variety as a coffee time or breakfast cake, and this variety as a dessert. Anyone who loves to bake knows that the vast majority of the time you need all room temperature ingredients, this cake utilizes melted butter instead which is great for me! Often “room temperature” is a problem since my house is usually somewhat cold and that means cold hard butter. (ok so honestly it means shove it in the microwave and pray the butter forgives you in the end.)

This cake is a wonderful last minute dessert that can be made with just about any fruit you have on hand cherries, blueberries, apple being the most popular even pears or strawberries. I love this recipe for its rich moist cake as well as the use of fresh fruit, nuts or streusels. Its often a go to recipe whenever my family wants something but doesn’t know what. Its a family staple and although its not overly fancy for me its classically delicious. Its very convenient and versatile, sometimes I’ve even used canned fruit (home canned of course) with pleasant results. About ninety percent of the time when my husband requests a last minute dessert its brownies or  anything chocolate really, if the exception is something fruity or I have guests this is what I would knock out. Not only are the ingredients simple and easily acquired but its a very simple cake that doesn’t need much fuss. You just mix everything together and bake it! I think its a slice of traditional home cooking thats much less stressful than a pie or torte, and just the right amount of sweetness.

German Cake : (Kuchen)
Pictured above is an apple kuchen made in a standard sized spring form pan with apple cheeks placed on top of the batter.

1/2 cup butter (melted or soft this cake does not care!)
3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
*zest of 1 lemon

Fruit: 4-5 plums, apples or pears, about 2 cups of cherries or berries
2 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling. (or 1 packet of vanilla sugar)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slightly spray/ grease one of the following, a standard cake pan, 9-11″ spring form pan or a single pie plate 9 to 11 inches in diameter.

combine butter with sugar and eggs stir until smooth. Add milk vanilla and salt. Combine flour and stir with a spoon be sure not to over mix. This cake is easy but too much mixing and it will not be a buttery delicate texture. Evenly spread mixture into your prepared pan.

Layer the fruit on top as you’d like in any pattern. Traditionally apples, pears, plums etc. are halved and placed on top plums, “pit side” up. Apples peeled, sometimes sliced core side down. You can brush the top gently with additional butter if you’d like, Sprinkle sugar on top and bake for 30-40 minutes. This depends on how moist your fruit is as well as your oven.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon …or both?.

Pictured above: is another variety of apple kuchen made with a whole wheat dough and topped with homemade pie topping and vanilla bean ice cream. The apples were sliced and arranged in a “flower” shape, baked in a standard spring form pan.

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