German Plum Cake is also known as Pflaumenkuchen or Zwetschgenkuchen. A sheet pan cake made with sliced plums over a sweet yeast dough base. Popular in Germany, Austria and across Eastern Europe.
My mother baked German Plum Cake every autumn when plums were in season. An old fashioned plum cake that has the perfect balance of sweet and tart, perfect with a cup of tea!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Rustic - a classic recipe like German grandmothers make
- Sheet Pan Cake - a larger batch that can feed a crowd
- Yeast Dough Cake - not your typical dessert, made with a tasty bread base
- Plums - a great way to showcase plums when they're in season
Ingredients You'll Need
- Sweet Yeast Dough - milk, yeast, sugar, salt, flour, eggs, butter
- Prune Plums - classic European plum or Italian Plums
- White Sugar - for sprinkling before serving
How to Make German Plum Cake
One of the key differences in this cake is the sweet yeast dough base. I use my universal sweet dough recipe, adding extra sugar to balance out the tartness of the plums. Some people find yeast dough scary, but if you follow along in the video, you'll see how easy it is to make!
Making Sweet Yeast Dough
- Activate Yeast - Pour yeast, ½ of the lukewarm milk and 1 tablespoon sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in ½ cup of flour. Allow to sit for 15 minutes in a warm place until it starts to bubble and foam, then the yeast is activated.
- Combine - In a smaller bowl, mix together 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, 7 tablespoons sugar, 5 tablespoons of melted butter. Whisk in remaining milk. Add milky mixture into the bowl of activated yeast.
- Knead - Slowly add the remaining flour, mixing until it forms a dough ball. Knead on a floured surface, adding more flour if needed, for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Rise - Place dough into bowl, cover with cling wrap. Keep in a warm place until it rises, about 1 ½ hours. Punch down dough, gently knead and it's ready to use.
Making German Plum Cake
- Prepare Plums - Wash the plums. Cut in quarters, removing the stones.
- Roll the Dough - Cover entire baking sheet with the sweet dough (on parchment paper). It should be about ¼" thick (½ cm).
- Layer Plums - Tightly layer the plums over the dough, covering the sheet pan.
- Bake - place in over for about 50-60 minutes in a preheated oven 325°F/160°C (fan forced).
- Cool - Allow to slightly cool before sprinkling with sugar.
Yeasted Cake Variations
While this is a great recipe during plum season, you can substitute with other stone fruits. You can use 2 different fruits on the same sheet pan. It's like making 2 cakes from one recipe.
- Prune Plums or Damson Plums
Plum Cake Streusel Topping
This old fashioned plum pie does not have a streusel topping. It's meant to be rustic like grandmother made. However, if you love streusel topping, here's some easy instructions.
- Mix together 1 cup of flour, ½ cup sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.
- Using your hands, rub ½ cup butter into the flour mixture, making a crumbly streusel. Don't overwork the crumble.
- Sprinkle over the plums and bake as per instructions.
Recipe Tips and FAQs
- Extra Dough? You might have extra leftover yeast dough after rolling out the base, just tight them into knots and bake them as sweet buns
- Cinnamon Sugar - sprinkle your plum cake with cinnamon sugar, a traditional German method.
- Don't overheat the milk - if milk is too hot, it can kill the yeast. Lukewarm means between 98°F-105°F (36°C-40°C).
- Make Dough in Advance - prepare dough the day before and keep in the fridge until you are ready to use. You can also freeze this dough - fully defrost and bring to room temperature for 2 hours before using.
- Vanillin Sugar - instead of regular sugar, sprinkle with sugar infused with vanilla!
Can I Use Any Plums?
Traditionally this recipe uses Italian Prune Plums, small, sweet, egg shaped plums. Sometimes, they can be hard to find. Any plum will work in German Plum Cake. However, you'll need to slice larger plums into smaller bite-size pieces.
Why Didn't My Dough Rise?
Sometimes the yeast your use can be dead! Hopefully you noticed in the beginning stages of your recipe if your yeast didn't activate. If it didn't, the start again with fresh yeast. Check expiry dates of yeast before you start baking, and be careful not to overheat the milk.
Yeast dough also needs a warm (not hot) place to rise. Some people place in an oven with the light on. Alternatively, place in the oven kept warm at 85°F/30°C. If room temperature is too cold, it might not rise, or take a long time to rise.
- Refrigerator - this doesn't last long in the fridge - place in an airtight container and enjoy within 2 days.
- Freezer - German Plum Cake freezes wonderfully. Place in an airtight container, place in freezer for up to 3 months.
Dessert Recipes You'll Love
- Blueberry Pie Made With Yeast Dough
- Sharlotka Apple Cake
- Apricot Piroshki
- Goose Feet Cookies (with Tvorog or Quark)
- Sticky Date Pudding
German Plum Cake with yeast is an open face pie that's the perfect recipe for plum season. Rustic and simple yeasted cake, a European dessert everyone loves. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
- baking sheet 12"x17"
Sweet Yeast Dough
- 1 ⅓ cups milk lukewarm
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 8 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups flour plus extra for kneading
- 2 eggs
- 5 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
Plum Cake Topping
- 3 ½ lbs (1½ kg) Prune Plums
- white sugar for sprinkling
- whipped cream
Sweet Yeast Dough
- Pour yeast, ½ of the lukewarm milk and 1 tablespoon sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in ½ cup of flour. Allow to sit for 15 minutes in a warm place until it starts to bubble and foam, then the yeast is activated.
- In a smaller bowl, mix together 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, 7 tablespoons sugar, 5 tablespoons of melted butter. Whisk in remaining milk. Add milky mixture into the bowl of activated yeast.
- Slowly add the remaining flour, mixing until it forms a dough ball. Knead on a floured surface, adding more flour if needed, for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Place dough into bowl, cover with cling wrap. Keep in a warm place until it rises, about 1 ½ hours. Punch down dough, gently knead and it's ready to use.
Making Plum Cake
- Preheat oven to 325°F/160°C (fan forced). Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash the plums. Cut in quarters, removing the stone.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, into the shape of the baking tray. Roll it out to about ¼" thick (½ cm) and place on parchment paper. Entire baking sheet should be covered with dough.
- Tightly layer the plums, slightly overlapping with each other to minimise gaps.
- Place in oven and bake for about 50 minutes, until dough edges start to turn golden brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to slightly cool. Sprinkle with sugar.
- Best served warm with freshly whipped cream or ice cream.