I am so pleased to be able to share this family recipe with you. German plum cake is a favorite for dessert or for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee.
After Uncle Ray married Auntie Ev, his mother lived with them until her death. I never knew Uncle Ray’s mom as she was gone long before I showed up on the scene. By all accounts, she was a whole lot of formidable wrapped up in a tiny 4’10” package. And formidable undoubtedly she was to be able to raise a son all alone in Hell’s Kitchen in the late teens and twenties.
As can sometimes happen with mothers in law and daughters in law, Auntie Ev and Mother Leavee’s relationship was not always the smoothest. Auntie Ev had a certain way of doing things, and Mrs. Leavee had her own ideas. This often led to Genteel Conflict.
German Plum Cake (Or Peach. Or Nectarine. Or Apricot…)
I am not sure how Auntie Ev came into possession of her mother in law’s fantastic plum kuchen recipe. Auntie Ev wrote on the paper she gave ffto me, “Stolen from Mother Leavee’s Kitchen.” Whether that is true or not is up for debate, especially given that they were not the closest.
Maybe Auntie Ev pointed and said, “Oh look, Mother Leavee. A deer!” and while she was peering out the window to catch a glimpse of Bambi, Auntie Ev smoothly pocketed the recipe. It is more likely that Mother Leavee gave the recipe to Ev and expected her to make it often. Regardless, Mother Leavee’s plum kuchen is one fine recipe, and it is one of the precious few I have of Auntie Ev’s, and only one of two written in her own hand.
This plum cake (or kuchen, in German), which is equally good made with plums, peaches, nectarines or any stone fruit, is very easy to make, keeps well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and reheats beautifully. Not too sweet, it is perfect for breakfast alongside a cup of coffee, although we always ate it as dessert whenever Auntie Ev made it.
How to Make German Plum Cake
You’ll notice that the plum cake batter is really an egg-enriched biscuit dough that is pressed into a pan and topped with “cake crumbs” or, as the note in the recipe declares (and what I did), crumbled vanilla wafer cookies. This is such a great idea. The crumbs catch all the juices that bake out of the fruit resulting in a jammy layer just under the plums. Topped off with some brown sugar that sort of melts down into the fruit and crumb layer, this German plum cake is just lovely. Every once in awhile you’ll get a chewy bite of caramelized sugar as a special treat.
In the original recipe, it calls for 4-5 peaches or “about 22 plums.” Obviously the plums she was talking about are much smaller than the plums I was able to get. It only took 3 plums to finish off this cake! You’ll notice that some of the plums appear more yellow than others. That’s because I used a mix of red and black plums. It’s the red plums that have that lovely yellow color, but either sort will do. And you can also use a mixture of plums and peaches if you’d rather.
Serve with very lightly sweetened whipped cream. I whipped in a touch of cinnamon along with a tiny pinch of salt. Perfect.
I have written about my family of the heart on a few occasions now. While Auntie ‘Leenie (Ev’s sister, on the left), Uncle Ray and Auntie Ev are all gone now, we keep their memories alive and think of them most every day.
German Plum Cake Recipe
If this lovely cake sounds good to you, please consider rating and/or commenting. I love hearing from readers!
If you make this German plum cake (or peach or apricot or…), and I really hope you do, please share a photo of it on Instagram by tagging @onlinepastrychef using hashtag #pcorecipe or in the Pastry Chef Online Facebook Group. I can’t wait to see your version!
- 1 cup all purpose flour, (4.5 oz)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- heavy pinch kosher salt
- 1 stick, (4 oz) unsalted butter, cold
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons cream sherry, (or vanilla)
- about 1 cup cake crumbs or vanilla wafer crumbs.
- 3-4 large, , juicy plums or peaches
- about 1/3 to 1/2 cup brown sugar, (I didn't measure)
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
- Rub/cut in the butter with your fingertips until there are no pieces remaining that are larger than a pea. The butter to flour ratio here is much higher than in a pie crust, so expect your mix to look much more "pebbly" and less "sandy" when you're done.
- Whisk together the egg and sherry or vanilla (I used sherry) and pour on top of the flour mixture.
- Stir gently with a fork or knife until all the egg is incorporated and there is no loose flour. Dough will be fairly stiff like biscuit dough. Put it in the fridge while you do the next parts.
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350F.
- Wash your fruit and slice into about 1/2" slices. Peel the peach if you want to, but it's not necessary with the plums.
- Get your cake crumbs or vanilla wafer crumbs ready. I blitzed my wafers up in my blender to make very fine crumbs.
- Lightly spray an 8" or 9" cake pan with pan spray. (I used our small cast iron skillet and it worked great).
- Remove the dough from the fridge and with an oiled spatula or with oiled hands. evenly press the dough into the pan. You'll end up with a layer about 1/2" thick.
- Evenly sprinkle on the cake or vanilla wafer crumbs and then arrange your sliced fruit decoratively over the crumbs.
- Sprinkle on a thin layer of brown sugar (or demerara. I used dark brown sugar).
- Bake for about 50 minutes or until the fruit is soft and you can see some juices bubbling even in the center of the cake.
- *Optional* Broil for 3 minutes to caramelize a bit of the sugar on the top.
- Remove from the oven and let cool about 15 minutes before carefully sliding the cake out fo the pan to finish cooling on a rack.
- Serve warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or a bit of cinnamon whipped cream.
You can use graham cracker crumbs as well if you'd like, although I'm not sure Mother Leavee would approve.
Amount Per ServingCalories 256 Saturated Fat 8g Cholesterol 53mg Sodium 175mg Carbohydrates 26g Fiber 1g Sugar 7g Protein 3g
I hope you enjoy our family’s German plum cake, and I really hope you make it. Spreading this recipe around is part of what keeps my family’s memories alive. If we don’t share them, who will be left to enjoy them? I’d love to hear about one of your treasured family recipes in the comments.
Thank you so much for spending some time with me today. Have a lovely day.
Here are some of my other posts about Auntie Ev, Uncle Ray and Auntie ‘Leenie:
- When History, Family and Dessert Collide (Part 1, with links to Parts 2, 3 and the finale). This story was featured on the Valentine’s Day edition of The Story with Dick Gordon in 2012. There’s a link to my segment, and you can hear me get all welled up talking about making this plum pudding.
- Chicken Noodle Soup Written back when Ev, Ray and Eileen were all still here and The Beloved and I would drive down to visit about once a month
- Anniversaries and Alzheimer’s My post celebrating Auntie Ev and Uncle Ray on their 65th wedding anniversary in 2009.
- Our Family’s Traditional English Trifle One of Auntie Ev’s celebrated recipes and maybe my favorite non-chocolate dessert ever
- Winter Leaves A short poem I wrote to mark Auntie Ev’s passing
- Ritz Carlton Blueberry Muffins (Uncle Ray Meets the Muffin Method) In which I teach Uncle Ray to make blueberry muffins using The Muffin Method so he could still enjoy blueberry muffins after Auntie Ev died. He even wrote most of the post himself.
- Lemon Buttercream (Happy Birthday Uncle Ray) A brief overview of Uncle Ray’s life, how our families eventually met and became so close, and his 94th birthday cake, his first birthday without Auntie Ev.
I’m sharing this post to What’s Cooking Wednesday at Buns in my Oven