A classic German cake when plums are in season, this is something I’ve been making since I was small, and we have it every year. The base is a sweet yeast dough, made without eggs or dairy in this case.
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, and I like it this way.
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. If you have extra plums on hand, make a plum crisp too.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Non-dairy milk: I usually use oat milk, but any kind will work. If you only need the cake to be egg-free, whole dairy milk can also be used.
- Honey: use maple syrup and honey interchangeably, as usual, depending on if the cake must be fully vegan.
- Spelt flour: light (white) spelt. Whole grain makes the cake too heavy. Substitute plain white flour if preferred.
- Cinnamon: optional, and not traditional, but a hint of cinnamon is nice here. Leave it out or substitute vanilla.
- 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. Of course you can substitute round plums if you can’t find zwetschgen. Halve and then quarter, rather than quartering the whole plum.
- Coconut sugar: substitute white or cane sugar 1:1.
Step by Step
Step 1: heat the milk and add the sweetener and oil. Stir in the yeast.
Step 2: stir in the dry ingredients, then knead into a smooth ball of dough.
Step 3: set the dough aside to rise until doubled in size.
Step 4: roll the dough out and top with plums.
Step 5: add the streusel topping in an even layer.
Step 6: bake until golden, cool, and serve.
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.
If you want a very traditional, butter based German plum cake, you can find my recipe for that at Baked.
How to Store
Storage: keep in a sealed container in a cool place for a couple of days, but serve fresh if possible.
Freezing: transfer cooled cake slices to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months.
- Check your yeast: if you’re not sure how old your yeast is, test a small amount in a bit of warm water before beginning. It should bloom (expand and foam) within a few minutes.
- Knead for less time: if using a standing mixer, the dough should be kneaded for about half the time as it would be by hand.
- Keep the yeast cold: store dried yeast in the refrigerator for the longest shelf life and most reliability.
More Sweet Bread Recipes
Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
Saffron Wreath Bread
Rhubarb Streusel Cake
Swedish Cardamom Buns
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German Plum Cake (Zwetschgenkuchen)
- 200 ml non-dairy 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 non-dairy 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.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
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