My Omi prefers this without streusel, just absolute masses of plums – do whatever you like best. She says that without is more traditional (she’s from a small town in Hessen) and my mom agrees, but it’s often made with as well.
Zwetschgen are usually called prune plums or damsons in English. They’re smaller and have a slightly different flavour from larger plums, and are a special treat at this time of year. They’re one of those rare fruits that are still strictly seasonal.
Give this German plum cake a try if you can find zwetschgen, or use larger plums. Either way, it’s well worth making in early autumn.
- Non-Dairy Milk: I usually use oat milk, but any kind will work.
- Honey or Maple Syrup: honey if the cake doesn’t need to be fully vegan, and maple syrup if it does.
- Coconut Oil: this makes for the best texture – use refined if preferred.
- Yeast: if you want to use fresh yeast, it’s half a cube for this recipe.
- Spelt Flour: light (white) spelt. Whole grain makes the cake too heavy.
- Cinnamon: optional, and not traditional, but a hint of cinnamon is nice here.
- Plums: zwetschgen if you can find them – ask around, a surprising number of people grow these and don’t use them. You can often buy them in shops and at the market as well.
- Coconut Sugar: for the streusel topping.
Step by Step
Tips and Notes
This is made on an oven-width baking sheet that’s typical to German ovens. If you don’t have this, you may want to make two smaller cakes instead.
If you are a big zwetschgen fan, you might have a special knife (it looks a bit like a garlic press) for cutting and de-stoning them. If not, cut along the seam of the plum, then open, remove the stone, and score the halves to make quarters that are all attached.
You add a bit of milk to the streusel because butter contains water. Coconut oil doesn’t, and it melts too quickly without the addition of a bit of non-dairy milk.
I haven’t tried making this overnight. You might be able to refrigerate the rolled out dough overnight before topping and baking, but I’m concerned it would rise too much.
Of course you can substitute round plums if you can’t find zwetschgen. Halve and then quarter, rather than quartering the whole plum.
Cane sugar can be substituted for coconut sugar if preferred. Use maple syrup and honey interchangeably, as always, depending on if the cake must be fully vegan.
White or all-purpose flour can be used in place of spelt flour. I haven’t tried making this recipe gluten free.
If you want a very traditional, butter based German plum cake, you can find my recipe for that at Baked.
More Autumn Desserts
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German Plum Cake (Zwetschgenkuchen)
- 200 ml oat milk
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 45 grams coconut oil
- 2 ¼ teaspoons dry yeast 1 package, or use 1/2 a cube fresh yeast
- 400 – 450 grams light spelt flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon optional
- ¼ teaspoons sea salt
- 500 grams prune plums (zwetschgen)
- 150 grams light spelt flour
- 100 grams coconut sugar
- 60 grams solid coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
- Gently heat 180 ml (3/4 cup) milk in a small saucepan until hot, but not boiling.200 ml oat milk
- Pour the hot milk into a heat-safe mixing bowl. Add 3 tablespoons maple syrup and 45 grams (3 tablespoons) coconut oil, whisking until the oil has melted.3 tablespoons maple syrup, 45 grams coconut oil
- Check the temperature with your finger. It should be warm, but not hot, to the touch.
- Whisk in 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast. Set aside for 15 minutes for the yeast to bloom.2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
- After 15 minutes, the yeast should be bubbly and have expanded significantly. If it hasn’t, you need new yeast.
- Add 150 grams (1 cup) of the flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine.400 – 450 grams light spelt flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
- Add another 250 grams (1 2/3 cups) of flour to the bowl and stir. Once the dough becomes too difficult to stir, tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface.400 – 450 grams light spelt flour
- Knead, adding up to 50 grams (1/3 cup) additional flour as required, for 6-8 minutes, until a soft, smooth dough forms. Don’t over-mix.400 – 450 grams light spelt flour
- Place the kneaded dough back into the bowl. Cover and set aside in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to fit your baking sheet (about 40x30cm (~12x16in.)) or make two smaller cakes if needed. Place the rolled out dough onto your prepared baking sheet.
- Prepare the plums. Wash and de-stone, cutting the plums into attached quarters as pictured. Spread the plums evenly over the cake base.500 grams prune plums (zwetschgen)
- Make the streusel. Mix 150 grams (1 cup) spelt flour and 100 grams (1/2 cup) coconut sugar in a bowl. Add 60 grams (1/4 cup) coconut oil and 1 tablespoon milk, and use your hands to mix into a crumbly steusel. Sprinkle evenly over the plums.150 grams light spelt flour, 60 grams solid coconut oil, 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk, 100 grams coconut sugar
- Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges and topping are golden. Cool fully on the baking sheet before slicing and serving.
- Leftover cake freezes well, but is best the day it’s made.