Each year in Germany, when plums come into season, bakery counters are awash with Pflaumenkuchen (literally: "plum cake"). In some places they're known as Zwetschgenkuchen, or Zwetschgendatschi, and I'm sure there are other regional names that I haven't heard of yet. They make them in small individual serves, like a danish, or in huge slabs or circles to buy home and share. Sometimes they're sprinkled with sugar, or covered in a Streusel (crumble) mixture. At their most basic, however, Pflaumenkuchen are a sweetened yeasted dough, topped with slices of fresh plums. Boom boom. They're sturdy and plain and delicious, perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack, with a nice cup of Kaffee, or even a little Schlagsahne (whipped cream).
We bought a big box of plums at the Boroondara Farmers Market last weekend, and couldn't think of a better use for them than this classic recipe.
I used the same base dough as Nigella's kuchen recipe (there's an apple and blackberry kuchen in Nigella Bites; there are other kuchen-variations in How to be a Domestic Goddess, all with the same base), which is a yeasted dough enriched with cinnamon, sugar, egg, milk, butter, vanilla extract and lemon zest. I chose to keep it plain and simple - no glaze, no Streusel - just dough, plum slices and a little demerara sugar.
|Ready for the oven|
It smells incredible as it bakes! I love how the edges get crunchy and golden brown, whilst the middle is soft and pillowy.
|Cut into slabs|
I was super excited to wake up to Pflaumenkuchen for breakfast! They were best fresh out of the oven, but lasted really well. I thought they'd go stale quickly but they stayed fresh for the better part of the week. Dee-licious!
PflaumenkuchenI'm submitting this German recipe to Chris' "Bloggers Around the World" challenge from the Cooking Around The World blog. This month's theme is Germany! Yay!
Base recipe from Nigella's Apple and Blackberry Kuchen
350 grams - 400 grams strong white bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
50 grams caster sugar
3.5 grams dried yeast (half a packet)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
125 millilitres lukewarm milk
50 grams softened unsalted butter
4 large, ripe plums
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
Place the 350 grams flour, salt, caster sugar and dried yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, lemon zest, cinnamon and lukewarm milk. (I usually heat the milk in the microwave for 20 seconds on high to warm it up).
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to form a dough, adding the extra 50 grams of flour if required. Add the butter, and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth and glossy.
Cover the bowl with clingfilm, and allow to rise in a warm spot for an hour, or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200C, and line a 20 x 30 centimetre baking tray with baking paper.
Punch the dough down to release the gas, and then press out into the prepared tray. Leave it to prove for 15-20 minutes.
Wash the plums and cut into sixths. Arrange the plum slices on the dough. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 180C and bake for a further 20 minutes, until the dough is golden brown around the edges and cooked through.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing into generous slabs to serve.