plum kuchen

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Plum Kuchen
Adapted, barely, from Gourmet

This yeasted cake is unbelievable: moist, light and with a complexity to its sweetness that most standard coffee cakes don’t have. Mine dipped a little when it baked, no doubt because it was left to rise almost an hour too long. That said, don’t skimp on the rising times — you want to get all of the lightness and height possible out of your dough.

Gourmet notes that this can be made with any stone fruit and that it tastes the best the first day. I don’t know, though, I had some that had been wrapped in foil in the fridge overnight and couldn’t find a thing not to like. Two days, however, might be pushing it.

Gourmet says it serves 8, but I cut mine into 16 squares

2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105–110°F)
2 cups (267 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (18 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup sugar (220 grams), divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (124 grams) (preferably Greek-style, but I used regular yogurt and it worked just fine) at room temperature
1 large egg, warmed in shell in warm water five minutes
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces or 142 grams) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened, divided
3/4 pound firm-ripe plums (about 4 small), halved and pitted

Stir together yeast and warm water in mixer bowl and let stand until foamy, about five minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)

Add two cups flour, 2/3 cup sugar, salt, yogurt, egg, zest, and vanilla to yeast mixture and mix at medium-low speed 1 minute. Beat in one stick of the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Beat at medium speed until dough is smooth and shiny, about five minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.) Scrape down side of bowl and sprinkle dough with remaining two tablespoons flour. Cover bowl loosely with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Spread remaining two tablespoons butter in bottom of an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Cut each plum half into five or six slices and arrange in one layer in pan. (I had quite a bit of extra plum slices to snack on, but my plums were also giants.)

Stir dough until flour is incorporated, then spread evenly over plums. Loosely cover with buttered plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until almost doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Bake until kuchen is golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan five minutes, then invert and unmold onto a rack to cool completely.

Serve with additional yogurt, lightly sweetened, or sweetened crème fraîche.


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