I’ve been curious to make a yeasted coffee cake for years, but every time I got close to making one, I decided against it. Would it be dry or overly-firm? Would it taste too much like bread? How would I know a good one if I’ve probably never had an authentic German kuchen — a general name for a type of sweet, yeasted cake, usually served with coffee — one? I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: I’m a master at talking myself out of things.
But then I saw a plum kuchen in this month’s Gourmet magazine and I couldn’t get it out of my head. It called for whole milk yogurt, we had whole milk yogurt in the fridge. It called for plums, we’ve been buying them in multi-pound increments. It called for one and a quarter sticks of butter and like magic, I had exactly one a quarter sticks of butter left, and seriously, not a smidge more. I had run out of excuses.
[This does not, however, mean that I approached this recipe with even a modicum of common sense. After this weeks annoying interruptions I was bent on making this yesterday afternoon, despite the fact that I’d picked the wrong day and wrong time. “Pshah, it’ll all work out fine” I told myself, leaving a 1.5 hour rise to go to a meeting that ended up running about 2 hours, panicking, frantically trying to hail a cab back at exactly 5 p.m. when, apparently, every taxi in NYC goes off-duty, in 90-thousand degree drenching humidity, visions of warm, overrisen dough spilling out over the pan, my counter and onto the floor agonizing in my head. A cabbie finally took pity on The Mega-Preggo in a Purple Dress, but spent the ride insisting that I was actually due in two weeks and not, say, the eight my doctor has estimated, gah, justshootmenow. Alas, I have digressed mightily again.]
I returned home to a cake that had not committed some sort of batter hara kiri, and I was so relieved, I wanted to kiss it. Instead, however, I cranked up the new oven, and baked the heck out of it. And then, then I really wanted to kiss it because this kuchen is kitchen heaven. It is not dry. It is not dense. It does not taste like bread. And I have no idea if it is authentic, but I barely care: I cannot wait to wield this cake recipe to my next baking whim.
One year ago: Blueberry Pancakes + Pancakes 101 and Huevos Rancheros
Plums, previously: Dimply Plum Cake
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.
185 comments on plum kuchen
I love you. I have stalked this site for nearly 2 years and I want to thank you for great ideas. I have yet to be disappointed. Off to buy more fruit.
I would give it a try with apricots or apples. In Poland, where the Kuchen is also very popular, we make it with rhubarb and streusel.
Lovely. I made the peach pie the other day. I have plums to purchase at the farmers market tomorrow. :)
Deb, wow some cabbie…
Anyway, the recipe’s great and I’m glad that you said it’s moist- a good excuse for me to now bake this (or something similar to it)…
Also, I read your tweet yesterday about your oven. So, what did you do? Just bake away like I suggested or did you go with the old wives tale?
OMG—-this was so amazing! Added finely chopped hazelnuts to the dough and some coursely chopped ones on top. Used three eggs and no yoghurt. Heaven… followed the directions and everything worked in spite of never having made brioche dough before. Also used plums I had halved and frozen in September. Frozen plums sliced great, and although I feared would make it too watery, was not a problem. Reminds me of plum kolach bought as a child from Bohemian bakeries in Berwyn—but better because they didn’t have the hazelnuts! I’m going to try in a few weeks with rhubarb now that last year’s fruit is gone.
Thank you for adding suggestions as to when to serve/eat this by! It really helps me. It also looks amazing and I can’t wait to try my hand at this. Thanks for the wonderful ideas. I have introduced as many people to your site as possible – they love it too!
This is VERY mod – I love it. And the color is fantastic! I can’t wait to make this. Any time I try your fruit cakes – not to be confused with, eww, fruitcake – people think I’m a crazy baking genius. I have you to thank for that. :)
Karman — Yes, that too! So, I turned the oven on and it smelled like a chemistry set: promising! Consensus wasn’t much on the oven (so unlike Twitter, where I usually get more answers than I know what to do with) but most said you shouldn’t need to run it first. I waited about 20 minutes with it on then decided that a) the cake couldn’t wait another second (it had been rising over 2.5 hours, yikes) and b) I couldn’t deal with making the apartment or myself a degree hotter for a second longer than necessary. Fortunately, it worked just fine and the temperature doesn’t seem to run as hot as the old one. (Note to self: Buy a dern thermometer already!) But I think it will take a few runs to get rid of the new oven smell.
Excellent I will make it again. I used plums I froze this past fall. The color is a deep plum color very pretty.
Currently I have a peach cake in the oven from last summer’s issue of Cook’s Country. While mixing it, I seriously thought to myself “the Smitten Kitchen would LOVE this”… Anyways, next time I head to the farm stand I may pick up some plums or peaches and try this instead! Thanks for all of the great recipes!
this looks amazing. i’ve never tried a yeasted coffee bread either, but now i’ll have to!
Gourmet has the yummiest desserts…and you’ve done it justice here.
I love this recipe. Today I used rhubarb instead of plums and it was delicious.
I’m a German and I think it’s pretty authentic. I love that type of cake! Kuchen, by the way, is basically just the German word for cake and it’s used for different types such as cakes with yeast dough, but also things like pound cake and several types of cake that might almost pass as bread (think banana bread etc.) in the US. The main differentiation is Kuchen vs. Torte, the latter of which is often a cake with layers of cake and layers of some type of filling in between, broadly speaking.
This looks fantastic! I love all of these fruit recipes since they’re perfect for summer!
Thanks for posting this! I had earmarked this recipe in Gourmet and has it on my to try list. After reading your review and experience, I can’t wait!
Your kuchen looks great and quite authentic. I always have to call my aunt, who is an expert for Pflaumenkuchen when I want to bake it. She would probably omit the yogurt and put much more plums on top so that you wont be able to see any or just a little dough between the fruit, and she would use damsons rather than plums which is the traditional way in Germany. They are not quite in season here yet but soon we will have Pflaumenkuchen all the time!
This is so interesting- my Jewish-American family has a passed-down recipe for Plum Kuchen, but it is more like a clafouti in a crust, or a sweet quiche. You make a pie crust, arrange the plums in it, and pour an egg mixture over it before baking. Our family is Polish and Russian; I wonder if that accounts for the variation?
I would be intimidated by a recipe like this, but you make it seem so appealing!
Oh, and you put the plums on top, but top, bottom, who cares!
This plum cake is running rampant this month in all the magazines. I made this one a few weeks ago http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/plum-upside-down-cake-00000000017219/index.html and it was divine. I know Real Simple isn’t a “foodie” magazine, but it’s where I happen to work and it was scrumptious!
Yum, yum! Do you think this would work well with other fruit? Peaches, or berries, or cherries?
I picked up plums last night JUST for this recipe. My magazine arrived 2 nights ago and I stayed til 2am (I was watching NCIS reruns til midnight) reading through it and dog-earing recipes. I love anything with plums AND I grew up eating something veeery similar, but with apricots instead. So plums got me intrigued!
I don’t think it’s very authentic in an old fashion way, I mean this inverted baking more reminds me of french tartes. Although I like the idea of this plum kuchen.
A more german plum kuchen (one that my mom d grandmy wuld bake) would be the other way round with the pluns only cutted in halves and the let them sink into the yeast dough while it bakes. They get juicy and start to caramelize (is this a real word?) Often we sprinkle sugar or streusels on top before baking
I feel the same way about coffee cakes, but this seems like a nice place to start. It looks amazing, anything but dry! And I love plums…
Deb, you could not have posted this at a more perfect time! I have about 5 plums chilling in my fridge waiting to be used for something! I got on the computer to look for plum recipes, opened my homepage and *voila* in my reader “Plum Kuchen”. It’s like you have ESP. The only glitch…I only have nonfat yogurt…I’m hoping that will work.
OH my, you read my mind Deb. The two photos of that cake (especially the one near the beginning of the issue that covers most of the page) are like the wallpaper on the inside of my eyelids! And I am glad to see the stained glass plum bottom came out so beautifully for you. Prettah.
Now I must, must make.
I am definitely going to make Flo Braker’s lemon-scented pull apart coffee cake (a yeasted dough) on account of you, SK.
Also, for anyone scared of yeast dough, this issue of Gourmet has a little primper of proofing yeast, so you can ensure that it’s alive and working before you start.
Two of the (many) food blogs I read updated today, and you both used the same recipe. I feel like this is a sign that I need to make this cake. (If at all interested, the other one is at Vegan Yum Yum, where she veganized this same recipe from Gourmet).
I saw some cherries at my farmers’ market the other day, and they’re calling out to be put on top of this dough.
New York is so sophisticated; what other city hires obstetricians as cab drivers?!
I have yogurt and I have butter but, alas, no plums – yet. This looks and sounds delicious and will be made soon. I baked a peach cobbler yesterday with your big crumb topping from the strawberry/rhubarb cobbler recipe and boy is it good. Glad the new oven seems to be working with you. Stay cool!
Woo-hoo! Nothing like christening a new oven. And with such a lovely dish to boot. It’s beautiful, like a stained glass window. I feel you about the stress in timing out a recipe. Truth? I am better at time management for baking than parenting. Alert the authorities!
It looks so beautiful and delicious! Yum!
Looks as good as any Pflaumenkuchen I consummed during my years in Germany. Will definitely give this a try and let you know how it compares!
Such magnificent color. I’m imagining the plums bring a hint tartness to cut the sweetness of the bread….I hope this is true.
Liska, I would love to know how to make it with rhubarb!
Deb, this is one of most beautiful things I have ever seen!
This is so much like the kuchen that my grandmother used to make! Her recipe doesn’t call for yogurt, but the end product is mighty similar. My personal favorite fruit in this is nectarines. Such a great, easy but beautiful and tasty cake.
I’m glad you talked yourself into this, it looks great! And I do believe my waistline expanded a little just looking at the beautiful photos – you are very disciplined for cutting this into 16 squares…I probably would’ve portioned this for one, and plopped it all onto my plate (sharing is so overrated) :-)
That looks great, I’ve never seen that kind of cake before.
I saw that recipe in Gourmet Magazine, too and immediately dog-eared it. I’m so glad that you tried and liked it. Now I can forge on ahead without a worry. You took one for the team!
Question? Did you invert the cake directly onto the rack without parchment or anything on the rack? If not, sas it difficult to move the cake to a serving platter? Gorgeous cake, btw!
Beautiful! A cake with yeast… never been tried before. Very interesting… will have to make it soon. Maybe with peaches and plums?
I saw this recipe in the magazine and said “Debra is going to make this, it’s her kind of cake” and there you are!
I was intimated by the yeast thing, so made a plum upside down cake instead, from the 2 Dudes One Pan cookbook.
It came out wonderful and was pretty, like this kuchen.
I love Pflaumen Kuchen!! My mom makes such a yummy one; i ask for it as a birthday cake every year. Thanks for sharing yours. =)
Not only does this look delicious, but it looks pretty too. the colors are lovely
Yes, that new oven smell can be a bit odd. When we got a new oven, I just went ahead and used it (of course pre-heated it). It was in the winter, so it gave me a good excuse to bake a lot to get that smell out. Took a couple days because I was baking like crazy, but it doesn’t take that long (if I remember correctly).
And you’re not the only one that needs to buy a thermometer! I just always subtract two minutes on any recipe because my oven runs a bit hot, and everything comes out perfectly, but it gets annoying sometimes… A thermometer would do me good.
I think I need to make this immediately. With peaches though, since that’s what I have in the fridge! And with some of my homemade whole milk yogurt! yum!
This looks gorgeous. Glad you made it :)
I AM GERMAN and yeasted “pflaumen kuchen” is my favourite.
I will bake it next week and tell you then if its authentic ;)
Looks great! I love kuchen…my favorite is kase kuchen…but I’m going to have to try this!
Do you live in my brain? I have been dying for a good recipe for a yeasted plum cake like this. My mom’s German neighbor always made these for us and her recipe is missing key points so that I have never been able to reproduce it. I will have to find some plums at the market tomorrow and give this one a go.
mmm plums & cake – the perfect combo. I wonder what it wld be like with rhubarb? LLGxx
Oh this is wonderful. I think the only thing missing from my old high school german class(taught by a really stern German) translated recipe is the nutmeg in the dough, well except sour cream for the yogurt. This was before Americans used scales and the pounds/ounces to cups was mentally exhausting. I still have the piece of paper. Thank you for the memory.
Zwetschge kuchen! My grandma always made this for us during the summer with Italian prune plums. They’re in season. I am definitely making this. I’m so glad you tried it.
Ok, I packed up the babies and went to the grocery store a few moments after reading this (really, who wants to finish work on a friday afternoon??). Now it’s 8 pm and I have another hour to wait for the 2nd rise — can I just say that a 2nd rise should be a banned form of torture???
Also, as previously mentioned, did you turn this out directly onto a rack or with parchment/foil in between?
Beautiful. I love fruit in cake. And a yeasted cake. Just lovely!
I am SO making this with peaches, nutmeg and almonds this weekend…drool.
Oh! How delightful!
My grandmother makes such a tasty pflaumenkuchen — it’s my favourite dessert!
This looks delicious…what a beautiful way to use seasonal fruit!
What does this mean?
Stir dough until flour is incorporated (right before you put it over the plums)? What flour? What am I not getting? Thanks for any clarification you can provide. Kudos for turning on an oven in this heat. Me, No way.
But, I may try this for an event next week. Great idea.
Kelly — Middle of the second graph… You sprinkle the remaining two tablespoons flour over the dough before the first rise. After it, you stir them in. (Don’t worry, I was confused the first fourteen times I read it too until I caught those few words I’d missed!)
I’ve had an apple kuchen booked marked more, oh, five years or so. So long ago that it’s actually bookmarked. In an actual cookbook. It’s gone untested simply due to my fear of yeast. The thing is, I made my first real foccacia a couple of weeks ago. And it totally turned out. So what exactly is my excuse now? I blame the 115 degree heat. (Excuses, excuses…)
Mmmm…that is a thing of beauty! This is definitely going on my “to-bake” list! I bet it would be great with apricots!
i’ve been looking for somethign to do with all these plums i have collected.
Just took this out of the oven, and my 12 year (my pickiest eater) says “Holy crap, that’s good!”. High praise in this household. It was nice to get baking again-I’m due in September, too, though with baby #3, and have been really low energy for most of this summer. The produce is rolling in from our garden, though, so I need to get on it (I think cooking is the only form of nesting I’m going to do). We have a prolific plum tree, and this was excellent timing. Thanks!
The Joy of Cooking recipe for Kuchen is not yeasted but definitely coffee cake-like. They share several different variations of fruit and it is topped with a streusel topping. I make mine with blueberries, yum! I end up eating it for breakfast and dessert:).
I’m so happy you made this. It was the first thing in that issue of Gourmet that I was wanting to try, but I felt a little intimidated by it. Now I want to try it even more.
I want to compliment your kuchen. It looks prettier than the one in Gourmet
Wow, this looks very good! This could be a beautiful wintery dish too with a hint of spice ;-)
I too saw the recipe in gourmet and dog-eared it! Then it reading your post I remembered seeing a Blackberry-Apple Kuchen by Nigella Lawson that I always wanted to try. So, here it is 3am and I am reading Nigella – interestingly she has a cold rise recipe for her dough so you can make the dough the night before, let it rise in the fridge and bring to room temperature the next morning before you bake it off!
I guess I know what my fiance and I are having Sunday morning….yummmmmmmm
I agree 100% with #22 Diana – not authentic, the real one is as she describes it, but never mind, this one looks good, too and if the preg mama likes it, that’s the most important thing!
This looks amazing (love the light purple hue between the plum slices)! And I have a thing for German baked goods so I can’t wait to make this. Two questions though, if you don’t mind:
1. the recipe calls for active dry yeast, and I think that is different from instant dry yeast. What is the equivalent amount of instant yeast that I should use? (I think I read somewhere that the amount should be divided by 3 or something like that.)
2. I’ve got insane amounts of sweet juicy pears sitting around, but no plums. Do you think pears would work here?
Thanks so much! And slow down and take time to relax. You need to take care of yourself now because there won’t be much time for that later…!
Please digress more. I love it when you digress. The end of a pregnancy is a very impatient and uncomfortable time. You’ll make us all feel a little more normal if you complain a bit. Love your site!
I’ve been following your blog for a while and thank you so much for all your creations and inspirations. I made the cinnamon buns the other day. I placed them into a cup cake tin. They came out like rose buds.
I come from the Czech Republic and yeast coffee cakes are very popular there. I have never tried to make it with yoghurt and invert it. I place fruits on top and sprinkle it with streusel. If there’s no fruit in the winter, we spread ground poppy seeds, cooked with sugar and milk first, or mix of cottage cheese, egg yolk, sugar and rum raisins. The cake with cottage cheese (I would compare Czech cottage cheese to ricotta) is very moist. Mom just made one and added apricots on top.
I lived in Germany for three years as a child and remember seeing the hausfraus carrying their pans of Pflaumenkuchen to be baked at the bakery. The pans were too wide for the narrow stove ovens. The plums were on top but this looks good too. We always use Italian Prune Plums for Pflaumenkuchen. One friend says Brooks Plums are the same, but I think they are milder and a little big.
I saw this recipe on a couple of sites now…I think it’s pretty authentic-looking, however, over here (here being germany) there wouldn’t be yoghurt in the batter, and it wouldn’t be baked upside down. and the top of “Pflaumenkuchen” is generally overflowing with plums…hm…pflaumenkuchen…. my mum makes a mindblowing zwetschenkuchen (damsons), that I used to pick the damsons for…yum.
however, someone already said that “kuchen” means “cake” in german, not just this particular style yeast-cakes.
This looks beautiful- I haven’t tried to make on of these before, but recipe just looks so moist and good! Of course, the butter and yogurt help! Thanks for posting this.
This looks better than Gourmet’s!
wow, this recipe is everywhere I look this week. Vegan Yum Yum did it too! I love your pics though! Great looking upside down cake. Yum!
Beautiful. Love the yogurt which must be why it looks soft and moist. Will try this soon. My mother was a big-time kuchen baker, especially with peaches and apples but also Italian plums. We didn’t have the variety of plums then.
Plums are underrated. They have a gorgeous flavor and color and they (and grapes) could be used more in savory cooking, don’t you think? Chutney, salsa, with meats, etc.
Btw, my maiden name was Pankuch!
Good morning! I just discovered your website – beautiful photos!
Do you think the cake would work fine with vanilla bean yogurt instead? I have a ton of vanilla but would have to run to the store for plain…. :)
well you did it again….you never disappoint & your photos are soooo tempting & beautifully staged! off the the fruit store so i can have this sheer bliss experience…
Wow. This looks amazing. I very nearly just tried to eat my computer monitor. I am absolutely awestruck by people who can create this kind of real art in the kitchen.
Many thanks for the inspiration! WOW fruit desserts are heavenly! Oh so heavenly!
MMMMmmmm! Made it with apricots – it’s perfect! Thanks for the recipe.
My German grandmother’s old family kuchen recipe has no yeast in it at all, and is actually a fruit and custard mixture baked on top of a buttery crust. She usually makes hers with raspberry, apple or my favorite, rhubarb. So when I read this post, I was surprised. I guess I’ll just assume kuchens vary by region…?
Wow! I made that recipe from Gourmet last week; it didn’t turn out nearly as beautiful as yours. I sort of had some trouble getting it out of the pan, and it didn’t taste as I expected (I guess I was expecting it to be sweeter since Gourmet labeled it as a type of coffeecake?). Yours looks amazing!
Hmmm. Think I’ll have to make this. I made the plum kuchen my mom makes the other day, but it was more like a tart than your recipe. Can’t wait!
Might have to try this with the peaches I just picked (and got my car stuck in the mud for). Looks delish!
Yum – this kuchen looks amazing! I’m going to try it with nectarines and honey. I agree with Mimi – your pics are even prettier than the ones in Gourmet. Thanks for the inspiration!
Pflaunenkuchen was a childhood staple. Every year during plum season my grandfather would pick the juicy ripe fruit off our tree once a week and grandma would bake up a storm. We always ate it with fresh whipped cream!
I too have been stalking your website for a while. Your recipes are so consistently delicious. Thanks very much. This plum kuchen looks fabulous also!
That top picture of the plums on top looks more like a wallpaper than actual fruit on actual coffee cake!
That is gorgeous. It’s going on my list for next time we acquire plums…
Looks good, but if you are trying to make the German version the plums are quartered and are laid sideways and closer together. You can check my blog in the next week and i will have a photo of one such cake. Very popular this time of year. BTW loved the brocolli salad recipe. it is now a family favorite.
That looks delicious. The neighbours kids just told me about some wild plums growing near the apartment. I was going to make them into jam but this sounds like a better idea!
I love your site! Plums are super delicious, especially when it’s in season. This recipe is awesome!
the mega preggo made me laugh (just like the rest of your entry).
that cake is gonna be in my oven in 1,2,3! happy birthing!
Wonderfull cake – I am British, living in France, and have found the “seasonality” of your recipes excellent.
That is a very impressive looking cake! And top notch photographs of it, too.
Oh my goodness, I made this last night and it’s so wonderful in every possible way. I messed up the recipe multiple times, and the dough wasn’t rising as much (maybe that’s because I let it rise in the kitchenaid and forgot it was supposed to go on top of the plums), but it was delicious. I made some stewed plums, added some greek yoghurt, and my life was complete. Thanks for the recipe!
I love Plum Kuchen! My German grandmother (my Oma) makes an incredible one (she also makes a killer Apricot Kuchen!) and have grown up eating it at coffee time with her! I’m actually going over to her house today to begin learning some of her classic German recipes so I can carry them on through the generations of my family. Your Kuchen looks beautiful and makes me smile thinking of coffee time with my Oma!
getting all the free plums you can carry brought me to a very similar recipe 2 years ago and no one can every get enough of it!
I halved the sugar in the dough by mistake. Looking back, I don’t think we could have handled as much sugar as is called for. This was perfect for Sunday morning. But does anybody know how to keep half the plums from staying in the pan? I ended up eating them with a spoon.
Can’t believe it. I have been looking for this for almost sixty years! There was a German bakery in my little hometoen that had pineapple and cherry kuchen that I have tried to find ever since I left. Never even found it with three years in Germany! Now you answered that deep down hunger. Thanks
This is inspirational. I’ve been chickening out of making yeasty cakes for a while wondering the exact same things you were. You can maybe add a whole lot of skepticism to it as well. I’m happy to learn that these weren’t dry. I know I’m going to come back for guidance when I finally do resolve to make a yeasted cake. Thanks you!
Great looking cake!
This recipe looks fantastic! Thanks for being so sweet when I said “hi” at Ben and Jerry’s. Your site is my absolute favorite!
This one was calling to me for the last couple days. I picked up plums while I was out today, but when it came time to make the kuchen, there was no. yogurt. AGH! (I always have containers of greek yogurt, but I forgot I ate the last one yesterday). Not to be foiled, I made it with sour cream. (I have made lots of coffee cakes with sour cream, so I thought it was worth a try. The kuchen was moist and delicious. Love it! Also, this is my first project using yeast. I need to look up to see what foaming yeast looks like because I was going on faith that creamy looking yeast water was what I needed.
What a wonderful post! I will have to try this recipe!
I’ve not done a yeasted coffee cake before! I love this idea, something I indeed need to try someday!
It certainly looks yummy (like everything you post here), however, I feel obliged to comment: I am German and have lived in Germany almost all my life. Never ever have I seen a cake like this, yet similar ones. Of course we do yeasted fruit cakes, but would probably put streusel on top or a topping made of sour cream, eggs and sugar for example. Or with egg whites and ground nuts.
And, please forgive me for sounding so patronizing, “Kuchen” means just any kind of cake.
like stefanie above me says, kuchen just means cake. so it’s not like it varies by region, the language just doesn’t differentiate between coffee cakes and pies and breads and whatnot. if its baked and sweet, it’s kuchen. so what you had there was a german recipe for some other cake, and that’s still kuchen.
the only different name is torte – and that’s sweet and baked and layered.
This indeed sounds remarkably appropriate with a cup of coffee. Off to the recipe box this goes!
I saw this article and cut it out as well!! So glad to see it was a success – and i do think yours actually looks better than the one in the magazine. Now I’ll definitely have to try it!
I made this with almost overripe mariposas that we had to use up. They disintegrated into a wonderful sweet plum jam with tart pieces of skin, instead of the pretty slices you see in the photo. It was really good, so, everyone, don’t worry if yours aren’t “firm-ripe.”
That looks delicous! I really need to make this. I wonder how I can squeeze in the 1.5 hour rise time without it being the weekend (I don’t want to wait).
You can try to let it rise in the fridge while you’re at work. It will slow the process down. Hard to say if it will be 100% doubled by the time you get home, but even if it is not, it shouldn’t take that much longer once it is back at room temperature.
Wow, I don’t know what you did but that shiny pink layer on top is so pretty! Looks delicious, and I’m thinking of trying it with peaches… yum. :)
wow that is actually very beautiful! I have a plum tree in my garden that is dropping fruit everywhere, I’m going to make this on Saturday! Thanks for the recipe
Your Plum Kuchen looks to die for, I make a Peach Kuchen every year on my Birthday, it’s my favorite!!!
That looks marvelous! I have a plum cake recipe – but this one looks so much lighter and so delicious!
This looks very similar to a plum cake I’ve been making for years, sans yeast, called Merbiteig. It is so yummy! The one I’ve been making requires less ingredients, was handed down from my German grandmothers, and I’ve gone crazy and swapped out plums for nectarines, blueberries, and more. Recipe is similar to this: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1919,159167-238194,00.html
Will have to try this yeast version – such a nice summertime treat!
I don’t even like plums that much (they are disappointingly Not Peaches to me), and I ran out and bought a pound to make this cake. It’s on its second rise right now and I hope it turns out as pretty as yours!
Now, supposing a person wanted to make this once the thought of turning the oven on wasn’t so inconceivable (say, November). Could said person use frozen fruit, do you think? If not, what would you recommend?
Also, OT: that amazing Russian black bread is YOURS? I’ve been making it since I found the rec. on NPR’s website and I can’t tell you how delish it is — though, I guess you know how delish it is, don’t you? THANK YOU!
I don’t see any reason why frozen fruit couldn’t be used but I haven’t tried this with anything but plums. Other stone fruits are natural swaps for each other, but that doesn’t mean it would taste bad (how could it?) with cherries or whatnot. Have fun with it.
Loved this! I have been looking for a recipe for a long time for a yeast cake like the ones my German husband remembers from his childhood. It came out great. I am going to Germany next week and will make it for his parents!
My childhood! My Bavarian mother! You brought her back briefly! Thank you!
BUT — if you want to make the TRUE German recipe, don’t slice the plums. Instead, “fan” the halves. By this, I mean take a pitted half plum, turn it so the flat side is against the cutting board and then cut about 3 – 4 slits into the round part of the plum, stopping before you hit the board. Now take this “fanned half plum” and lay it on the batter. When the cake cooks the batter rises around the fanned half plum. Heavenly!
How do I know this? Because cutting the slits was my JOB when I was growing up! Making “Pflaum Kuchen,” as we called it, meant that summer time had arrived.
Damn — now I really miss meine Mutti!
Delighted to see this post. I made plum Kuchen a lot when I lived in the country and had lots of fruit trees, including an Italian plum. Just happened to bring home a sack of plums today. Looking forward to making it again.
Made this tonight – very good! I used damascus sugar sprinkled over the butter thinking it might add a bit of texture. It didn’t, but I think it added a wonderful flavor. The hubby & I loved this, the kids didn’t. The bread part reminded me of sweet roll dough and the plums were juicy and sweet. Yum.
Super tasty, I was surprised at the amount of sugar used in the bottom of the pan but after letting the plums sit there for a while I realised how key that really was.
I wasn’t happy with the yeast I used (it was a little old) but it did foam up. I left the batter in our wonderful NY summer weather of 90/90 (temp/humidity) for proofing. It still did not rise as much as I would have liked so I put it in the fridge for about 9 hours. This seemed to give it a little more help, though still not doubling.
NJ Plums are amazing this year, super sweet and their skins are flavourful and as tart as ever. Thanks thanks! .myke
I made this with peaches, as I’ve been unable to locate any Colorado plums. It was delicious after one day in the fridge, but on day two was stale and icky (although you can bet I ate it anyway, with plenty of yogurt!). I also made it in a 7×11 pan (77″ sq , in between the 64″ of an 8×8 and the 81″ of a 9×9) and it barely fit. I put it in the oven 40 minutes into the second rise because it was already at the edge of the pan. Although the Gourmet article says you can use an 8×8 or 9×9, I would definitely go with the 9×9.
I had no trouble fitting mine in an 8×8 (and I let mine rise an hour too long!). That said, it sounds like you either had some hyperactive yeast, a super-warm kitchen or (if you are in Colorado) perhaps an interaction with the altitude that made it rise super-fast.
I kept mine wrapped in foil in the fridge, and although I had expected it to be stale and ick the second day (the recipe itself warns it is best on the first day) mine was incredibly moist. I think I lucked out.
Hi there! I don´t want to be just the next German to tell you, that this cake is not really authentic. :o) It undoubtedly must be delicious (as all of your recipes I tried tourned out to be absolutely adorable!)
But if you´re interested in a German “Please bake it again and again!”-grandma-Pflaumenkuchen with a taste-intensifying hazelnut-bonus….just let me know! :o)
And by the way: thank you so much for the carrot cake recipe!!! Best carrot cake ever!!!
wow…that looks like a great recipe.
I’m on my third batch of yeast and it will not foam. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I want to make this cake. I even made homemade yogurt to put in it. Help!!
I lived in Germany for 3 1/2 years. I love the food. Making this Kuchen brought me right back. I loved it. I’m officially addicted to this site.
Deliciousness :) I love the photos – they scream with “drooling” effects ;)
Where I lived in the south of Chile, the German immigrants have made kuchen famous. This recipe took me right back to my days of wandering past small bakery windows full of raspberry and strawberry kuchens. I’m looking forward to trying it!
Do you think the kind of mixer– hand-held or standing– makes a difference? This sounds incredibly appealing, but I don’t want to beat the batter by hand for ages in the temporary absence of a standing mixer.
I can’t imagine why it would matter. The standing mixer is just more robust.
I’m in Berlin and plum Kuchen is all the rage here in the summer. As some commenters have mentioned, here they usually bake it with the fruit on top of a slightly-sweet yeast dough. I’m with you though and prefer to make inverted plum cake. Yum! And so pretty.
just wanted to mention that “Kuchen” is the translation for “cake” and doesn’t mean a specific kind of cake, like you wrote, “a general name for a type of sweet, yeasted cake, usually served with coffee”.
I made this the other day with cherry plums a friend and I spent the day picking. It was well loved by my housemates, who are also currently enjoying your corniest corn muffins, which are perfect by the way.
Just wanted to say I made this Sunday with great success! I used low-fat plain organic yogurt and Splenda and the recipe held up just great. Not sure anyone will be reading these comments, but wanted to share just in case. Thanks Deb for another yummy recipe!
I just finished making this, tastes nice with yogurt! but I don’t know if it’s because it’s still hot but it’s kinda gummy
Absolutely one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted. I made it with extremely sour plums, but the sugar knocked them down to just pleasantly tart, and the cake part was almost like a doughnut. I, as usual, ate way too much of it. It tastes even better out of the fridge.
It looks delicious, but it needs streusel on top. As well, my mom never adds sugar to the fruit, and always puts it on top (pressing it in to the dough slightly). The fruit (be it plums, peaches, apples, or apricots) gets properly baked and caramelized slightly. Yum!
Looks like a great recipe! I’ll be sure to try it when plums are in season :)
I made this with yellow plums over the weekend and it’s scrumptious! I let it rise the second time in the fridge for about 4 hours, which worked great. Through some kitchen magic, the finished product smells and tastes (barring the texture) almost exactly like a fruit-and-cheese danish. It’s heavenly!
This cake is unbelievably delicious and so gorgeous! I’ve always wanted to make plum kuchen because my father is of Jewish German descent and always told me about his mother’s plum kuchen. I’m using the Italian/presidential plums (they’re in season) and so beautiful. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!Huge fan!
I’ve made this twice in the past week – it’s great! Thank you. I found the 9 inch pan works best for better plum to cake ratio.
Your recipe sounds very good, although I never came across an inverted Plum kuchen or Zwetschgendatschi as we call it in Germany.
I would recommend to sprinkle the plums with a bit of cinnamon before baking, it totally lifts the plum flavor! You get that a lot here in Germany, together with streusel!
I am not sure about German recipes (although they tend to be close to ours) but the Czech plum kuchen has a higher fruit to dough ratio and streusel topping. It’s one of my favourite cakes of all time, here’s the recipe from my childhood: http://www.growntocook.com/?p=193
My first attempt at this recipe tastes delicious, but it turned out a bit denser and not as lovely and fluffy as yours appears in the picture … maybe my yeast was sub-par, or my kitchen was too cold during the rising (this chilly English May isn’t helping…). Also, the batter was quite dry and difficult to mix – it kept sticking to my hand-mixer in one huge clump. Not sure where I went wrong. But delicious nonetheless!
The thing that I gained from your blog (besides enjoying your story, pictures, and a new recipe) is the way you slice your plums off of the pit. It was one of those “Duh” moments. I always manage to find the hardest way to do things. Thanks for the help.
I don’t know if you answer questions this long after a post, but I’ll give it a shot: my kuchen left half of its top against my le creuset baking dish. So sad! It had a beautiful pattern! What could have caused this, and what might prevent it? I usually pride myself on never having a mishap in the kitchen…this was a BIG one. Turned my late night stress baking into stressful baking…
Hi Dani — So sad! I haven’t heard of this happening before with this recipe but in others, I find that fruit tends to stick more (for upside-down cakes) when it has more time to firm up, i.e. it’s left to cool for a while before flipping it out, not just five minutes; you also might just need a layer of butter or cooking spray next time you make this in that dish (rather than a typical cake pan). I hope that helps for next time.
This looks delicious! I want to make it but i onlyy have a springform tube pan. Will it still work out the same if i used it? It looks like this ikea one with the hearts on it: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10133047/
Hi Deb, I’m a new reader , I love your recipes, I’m thinking on making this cake for this weekend, do you butter the sides of the pan as well or not?, I’m thinking if not it might stick to the sides and I wont be able to place it upside down.
Good question! I didn’t and it didn’t stick but see no reason not to add that extra level of precaution, just in case.
I absolutely love your website and have never had anything but wonderful results with your recipes…including this one. That said, I grew up eating many German foods as my Father was German and my Mother cooked for him. I’m sure each family has it’s favourite kuchen recipe. The kuchen we ate (plum and apple) was like a sweet dough, similar to one you’d use to make cinnamon rolls, rolled out and placed in a pie plate. The fruit was then sliced onto the raw dough and a sweet (quiche like)custard was poured over the fruit. Then the entire “cake” was baked and the base would rise up over parts of the fruits and the custard would cook. It was a glorious experience as the custard was thin and would firm up as it cooled and Mom would cut it in pie shaped slices and we were allowed to eat it with our hands!
Thanks for the recipes and the inspirations Deb
This sounds wonderful, but it is not exactly like the German plum kuchen I’ve eaten many times in Germany. Omma Henny, who passed away about 10 years ago at the age of 92, loved to make great sheets of plum kuchen. The dough was much like this, but the fruit was halved prune plums, plucked from the tree in the garden. They were laid skin side down, in an overlapping pattern on top of the batter with only a few dabs of butter, no sugar, on top. She used half-sheet pans as the kuchen didn’t rise a lot – though the rims might have been a little higher than those common here. The kuchen, which was purple-red, juicy and gorgeous, was served with cups of strong coffee and mounds of freshly whipped cream in the late afternoon. Plopping a big spoon of whipped cream in your coffee cup was considered a good idea as well. Left-overs were just as delicious the next day, and the day after – they were loosely covered and left on the counter, not refrigerated.
Hi Deb, my Oma used to make a very similar pflaum kuchen as well. It was very similar to what you make here, only the plumbs were halved. The other thing that she did was to put some sort of mixture of sour cream, sugar, cinnamon,and maybe egg yolk on the top. It was heavenly! I have never quite been able to duplicate it, only ever close. Do you have any idea what that topping might have actually consisted of? I was thinking that I may have the ingredients right, but the wrong amounts??? When it’s baked it should be sort of creamy but not too wet. It also had an almost aerated look to it, like maybe she used the whole egg, but separated it and whipped the whites. Any and all thoughts/suggestions are welcomed!
Susanne — While it sounds delicious, I haven’t been lucky enough to try anything like it, so I wouldn’t even know where to start. You might look on German recipe sites, using Google Translate.
I just wanted to say:
I made this 100% according to the recipe a week ago, and it was delicious.
I made it yesterday and my yeast took forever to wake up, I had to sub half-and-half for half the yogurt, I put it in the oven on warm to rise and it got enormous, I used way more plums than I was supposed to (too many plums), I didn’t do a second rise because it was 11pm and the batter was enormous, then I left it out to cool all night in the pan. And it was STILL delicious. A little denser than the first time, but in a good, pound-cakey way.
Deb, I’ve made this cake every summer since you first published it. I wrap it tightly and take it to our annual family camping trip. It is FANTASTIC and only gets more moist over the course of 2-3 days. I look forward to making (and eating) it every year. And that time has come again! Hooray!
This looks amazing! Do you need to use the dough hook in the mixer or would the paddle attachment work??
hm, as pretty as it looks, have you tried another very typically German variant of plum cake, which is basically a lining of dough (yeast or curd-oil most often) with as much plums as you can fit on the cake? I’ve learned from my grandma that you need to put the halved plums standing up on the cake, because otherwise you can’t fit enough fruit on the dough. It’s so super delicious! (And I just saw that other Germans asked you about other German varieties of plum cake as well. We seem to be a little crazy about it and every grandma seems to have her own secret fantastic recipe :) )
I like the sound of this approach!
After reading the comments I made a mutant cake with with ~1 lb of rhubarb, sprinkled with 2/3 cup of sugar, sprinkled with the streusel from your rhubarb snacking cake. Amazing! The yeasted crumb more is much more complex and tasty than a standard quick-bread coffee cake.
If you Want to Make a yeasted German plum cake You need to make Zwetschgendatschi. It has a much higher fruit to base ratio. Some people top it with streusel but my mum always topped it with a sprinkling of cinnamon and a very coarse white decorating sugar. Soooo yum. Especially when served with a generous helping of whipped cream. Mmmmmmmm
Can I double the recipe to bake in a 9×13 pan or does the yeast complicate matters? !
That rogue exclamation mark must be my excitement that it’s plum season. Fell hard for this recipe last year and looking forward to sharing with a larger group of co-workers next week.
Can confirm that doubling the recipe worked like a charm.
The only complicating factor was restraining myself from inhaling a 9×13 pan of delicious plum kuchen. #nomnomnom
Do you think you could make this with sourdough instead?
Not sure because I don’t have experience with it but if you do, I’m sure it would be delicious.
Unfortunately this was a disaster for me. It fell by half when I took it out of the oven so it was super gummy and dense. The crusty edges were delicious though! I have no idea what happened…..
Just finished unmolding the cake. The top was a little darker than I’d like, but the inside seems to be perfectly baked. I did butter the bottom, but about a third of my fruit still stuck – maybe I should have let it cool another minute or two? Judging from what I licked off my fingers when I finished squishing the fruit pieces back in, this is going to taste DEVINE – I can’t wait for the potluck tomorrow!
Probably someone said that already – a ´Kuchen`does not describe yeasted cake. It just means cake, describing a wide variety of sweet baked goods that have to be cut to be served. Your purple plum cake, this cake, the salted honey apple cake, the everyday chocolate cake – they are all classical ´Kuchen`. It just does not describe extremely rich, layered occasion cakes, they are called `Torte`.
Thank you — very helpful to know!
I would love to bake this cake but I can’t have eggs. Is it possible and if so, how?
I was watching Amelie yesterday and she makes a ‘yeasted plum cake’, then this pops up in my feed almost immediately after the film ends. I’m taking it as a sign that I must make this cake! And it even includes weight measurements – hurrah!
This was lovely. Wonderful way to use up the last of my plums. I accidentally put all the butter into the batter (then got 2 more tbsp to butter the pan) but it was still delicious. So beautiful and a perfect amount of sweet and tart. An excellent accompaniment to my 5 pm cup of coffee. Thank you!
I’ve made this twice and both times the very middle is a bit doughy/raw. I even baked it for 45 minutes (maybe even a little longer) the second time. Am I missing something? Both times I was tricked by a toothpick that appeared to come out clean. It’s so delicious we just eat the outside edges but I’d love to have it come out *just right*