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Plum Cake / Pflaumenkuchen - Got a Recipe?

celestica's picture

Plum Cake / Pflaumenkuchen - Got a Recipe?

I am searching for a great plum cake my mother used to make, the recipe has since been lost.  I've been trying to recreate it for 15 years with no luck.  I've make about 9 different recipes and they all suck (compared to mom's).  Most of my mother's best recipes are Jewish, either passed down from my grandmother (from Czechoslovakia) or from the spiral bound Jewish fundraising cookbooks.

My mother's was not too buttery, very tender, moist, about 1 inch thick, and used prune plums cut in half laid side by side, not concentrically.  Ingredients included the usual cake stuff: flour, butter, eggs, vanilla, sugar, baking powder.  When cooked, the juices would run from the plums into the cake.  Powdered sugar was lightly sprinkled on afterwards.

The ones I have made have been too chewy, tough, and some had more of a cookie crust. 



fsu1mikeg's picture

That sounds exactly like the cakes my mother-in-law makes in Germany.  They are delicious.  She also makes the same cake with sour cherries, strawberries, rhubarb, and I'm sure whatever else is fresh at the time.  I don't know the recipe, but it seems like a pretty simple cake as you described.  I know she uses packaged gelatin for the fruit topping to give it that nice jellied texture.  My wife has made it with strawberries a couple times, but she doesn't have the knack unfortunately.  But I'll ask if she knows the exact recipe.

EvaB's picture

This sounds like hte cake I got from a friend's friend and when I asked her what it was called, she said I just call it Polak cake, because my whole family is Polish and that's what we all call it!

4eggs, 4 tablesppons of melted butter, shortening or oil (I've never made it with oil)

1 cup of sugar, 1 and one half cup of flour, beat all together pour onto a jelly roll pan or rimmed cookie sheet,spread with fine bread crumbs (or graham cracker crumbs should work fine) place half plums skin side up or any fruit (have made it with fresh peach quarters) powder with icing sugar Bake 10 minutes at 400F, turn down oven, and bake 20 minutes at 350F .

This is totally decadant and delicious.

whoops's picture

I realize it has been quite a while since you posed your question, but I was askign my mother the same exact question. My mother is German, and when we lived in Germany when I was a child, she used to make the plum cakes. She also made teh Apfelschlupfkuchen, which now, many years later, have kind of melded into the same. cake but different fruit. My motehr dug out her old German cookbook and I copied the recipe for the shlupfkuchen. I have not been able to find the prune plums. I recall my mother also making it with yellow plums, though I can not find them, either. I have looked about a bit, thinking that perhaps Whole Foods or one of the Organic groceries would carry them, but no such luck. My research has led me to believe that the biggest difference between the prune plums (often called Italian Plums) is that they are free stone, so therefor lend themselves to baking with less hassle. Here is the recipe my Mother stated she used for the Schlupfkuchen. One could use any fruit, but we seemed to use apple mostly. It was not that difficult to make. The biggest issue I have is that when Mutti gave it to me, she gave me a pretty wide range of oven temp...and I never can remember which temp I used and for how long. The top shoudl be golden brown, though.

1/2 lb flour

65 gr margaine ( I only use butter)

100 g sugar

2 eggs

1/8 liter milk

lemon zest

1 package baking powder ( I use Dr. Oetkers)

1 1/2 lbs fruit ( I think that is what she said, I just keep filling up the pan with fruit til it doesn't fit anymore)

I just mix everything except the fruit together together, pour in a round cake pan ( I think mine was 9 inches) arrange the fruit slices in the batter and then bake. So, Mutti said bake for 45 minutes at 350-375 degrees F.

Once it has cooled, right before serving, I dust with a little powdered sugar.

Good Luck!


mountaindog's picture

Maybe not the same as your mother's, but my grandmother used to make a plum cake that our entire extended family loved, it was a July 4 tradition in our family. She taught me how to make it as a child, and hers is basically a simple yeasted sweet dough (no baking soda or powder) pressed flat to 1 inch thick into a half sheet pan or jelly roll pan, with fresh or canned purple plums pitted and halved arranged across the top in rows just touching each other, and a little cane sugar sprinkled across the top before baking. The juice from the plums glazed over the surface of the cake as it baked.

Richard Bertinet's sweet dough recipe, found here, would work great in this recipe, it has the same ingredients that Grandma's recipe had.

Next time I make this for our family July 4th reunion, I may use the sourdough cinnamon roll dough rather  than the yeasted sweet dough, I'm sure it would be great in that recipe as well.  Good Luck.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but it might take me a little time to get it.  Sorry... left that file in Austria.

I can tell you that it's baked in a lined jelly roll pan.  It sounds just like what you're searching for....cake like, 1" high.  One of my favorites.  With exactly your ingredients but oil not butter.  The eggs are separated and whites are beaten stiff followed by yolks one at a time and then oil slowly.  Grated lemon peel is also sometimes added.  The dry ingredients are added and beaten in on low speed.   Spread out the creamy thick dough (resembles marshmallow cream) stay about 1" away from the edges, and start placing plums (I freeze them in season removing the stones) in a row in the middle.  As you place the plums, the dough works to the edges.  I know it as an "Öl Biskuit" recipe. 

I was looking around but haven't found the right recipe, too many cookie like doughs, like you said. 


celestica's picture

I found one here that might do for plum cake, can anyone who has made it describe the flavour/texture?

Grandmother's Apple Cake

5 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup sugar

1 cup AP flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 medium baking apples

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Set the oven to 400 degrees. Spray the bottom of a 10 inch cast iron skillet with cooking oil spray. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar into the pan.

2. In a bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder.

3. In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk, and vanilla.

4. In an electric mixer, beat the butter with 1/4 cup of sugar for one minute or until light. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Stir in one third of the flour, then one third of the milk. Add the remaining flour and milk in the same way.

5. Use the back of a spoon or your fingertips to spread the batter in the skillet - it will be thick and sticky.

6. Peel and core the apples. Slice them 1/8 inch thick. Starting at the outer edge, arrange the apples on the cake in slightly overlapping concentric circles.

7. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 3 tablespoons with the cinnamon. Sprinkle over the apples.

8. Bake the cake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the apples are tender and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes.

9. With a wide metal spatula , loosen the edges and bottom of the cake from the pan. Place a large plate on top and invert the pan and cake together. Lift off the pan. Place another plate on top of the cake and invert it again, so the cake is right side up. Serve warm

Thanks to Mini oven and the other offer to try and track down recipes, if you send them I will surely try and report back results.




celestica's picture

THough I like Bertinet's recipe, I don't think I'll try the sweet dough because my mom's recipe was not yeasted. 


gosiam's picture

celestica, let me know if the cake your Mom made looks anything like the picture attached:

I will translate the recipe for you if this is what you are looking for.

Many good bakes!!!


celestica's picture

The cake does not look like yours, there is no crumb topping and the texture of the cake looks different...thanks for the offer to translate though.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The Angels are waiting in the detail.   There are three basic types of Austrian plum cakes (recipes from cherry cakes but using prune plums, or better known as house plums):  yeast type, cookie type, and cake type.  This is a cake type recipe and you will need a mixer.

The "trick" to this batter is with the eggs, they must be beaten until they are not only thick, but light and fluffy.   In other words, cream-the-hell-out-of-them!   This can be done using one of 3 ways: 1) Separate the yokes from the whites, first beating the whites until stiff, set aside. Beat yolks with sugar.  Fold whites into the completed batter.  2) Separate yolks from whites, beat whites until stiff, add yolks one at a time alternating with spoons of sugar.  3) Whole eggs and sugar beaten together at high speed for what seems like a long time (forever).  This is where you find something else to do while the mixer works.  Don't underbeat.   On with the recipe...

Plum Cake  or  Zwetschkenfleck       200°c (400°F)

  • 4 eggs
  • 250g sugar
  • 100g oil or melted butter
  • 100g water (less if including a splash rum and/or vanilla extract)
  • 250g ap flour mixed with
  • 8g (1 1/2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 500g fruit, pits removed, cut in 1/2 or 1/4

Cream eggs and sugar using one of 3 methods mentioned above. When it has become light and fluffy, reduce speed and dribble oil slowly into the mixing dough.  Slowly spoon in flour alternately with splashes of water mixing until smooth.  

Spred dough (finger thick) on parchment lined jelly roll pan or edged baking sheet leaving a space (2 cm or 1") around edge as dough will flow to the edge as fruit is applied.  Cover dough with fruit (skins down centers up) starting out in center either in rows or randomly leaving small spaces for dough to swell between fruit.  Bake in pre-heated oven  200°c  or  400°F  until dough is golden brown and fruit is cooked, 30 min?

Sprinkle with powdered sugar cut into squares.  Serve fresh with whip cream.



celestica's picture


Hi Mini, yes, I think this is it.  I just got a bag of frozen whole plums the day before you posted the recipe so if the stars are aligned correctly, it should turn out great.  I will try it very soon, and thanks for digging it up.  These plums won first place at the Castlegar (BC) fall fair, and were picked by my still spry 84 year old neighbour.

Thanks for including the tips, perhaps this is why my cakes were turning out dry and yucky.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sounds like this will be one heart felt cake so don't forget to take pictures!  If the plums are too hard to cut, let them thaw out.  They do cut better when they're still a little icy.

I can almost smell and taste it!  In fact, I just might bake one myself today.  We just got some snow (what a change from Costa Rica!) and there's nothing like baking warm fruit filling the house with aroma to take the chill off the day.   Hope your neighbor enjoys it too! 


celestica's picture

Hi Mini,


It's been over a year since you sent this recipe to me, and one more season of Italian plums on my neighbour's tree, but I finally made it for a New Year's potluck. I made a second one with frozen wild blackberries.

The directions I used were those of beating the hell out of the eggs for a long time with my new (used) bosch machine. 

The results were amazing and even my friend from Czechoslovakia said it was just like home.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Two days ago made a cake using a large size cookie tin (part of a New Year package) and cut the sugar to 150g, big mistake as it hardly rose.  So made it again last night and used 250g sugar.  The weather here in Laos has suddenly turned from balmy short sleeve weather (perfect summer night romance porch swing temperature) to cold rain, wind and even Snow!  5°C in the morning!!!  So glad my mini oven is warming up the apartment and what better way than to make a cake while hubby integrates water heaters into the camp showers.

I grated a large lime and replaced some of the water with lime juice, gave the batter a dash of bitters (spice) and topped it with mixed fruit chunks.  Wonderful!  

johnplfranz's picture

Thank you all for this recipe.  My Oma made it in great sheets for the family and her social groups: plums, peaches. I'd found many similar recipes over the years, but one of the keys is the crumble topping which I had not been able to find. Unfortunately Oma died before my generation could learn her Alsace Lorraine recipes. Little was written, and it was all a pinch of this, a hand full of that, enough of something else. I had also forgotten the term "Streusel" even though I think she called them her streusel cakes. 

Reynard's picture

In "Kuchnia Polska", kruszonka i.e. streusel is made with the following:

80g flour

50g butter

50g icing sugar, sifted

Vanilla extract to taste.

Rub the butter into the flour, then stir in the sugar and vanilla. It's as simple as that. You'll be able to tweak quantities as per requirements.

In "Bayerisches Kochbuch", streusel is made by the following:

200g flour

150g butter, softened

150g caster sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

sift the flour, sugar and cinnamon into a bowl. Lightly work the butter into the flour mixture with a fork so that it forms small clumps. Cool before use.

I do have a significantly older cook book "Elsasser Ausfuhrlicher Kochbuch" which dates to circa 1895, but I'm struggling to find anything in there - the gothic script is a 'mare to read... Anyway, hope this lot helps you out.



Reynard's picture

I use the recipe Placek krucho-drozdzowy ze sliwkami from "Kuchnia Polska", but have scaled it down to fit in a standard swiss roll tin.

200g strong white flour

60g icing sugar, sifted

60g butter or marg

Zest of half a lemon

2 eggs

50ml double cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

20g fresh yeast

Victoria plums (around a dozen should be plenty)

Wash & dry the plums, cut in half and remove the stones. Rub the fat into the flour. Activate the yeast in the cream. Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the remainder of the ingredients and work into a soft dough. Press it into the greased and floured tin. Arrange the plums, cut surface up, in rows on top of the dough. Leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour. Bake in a preheated oven 200C for approx 25 mins until golden.

For the lukier (icing):

60g sugar, 1/2 tsp vinegar

2 1/4 tbsp boiling water

1 tbsp rum / brandy

While the placek is cooling, in a saucepan, pour the vinegar and the boiling water on the sugar and cook to the thread stage. Cool slightly and beat with a wooden spoon. When it starts to become opaque, add the rum, stir, then either brush or drizzle over the cake.

The resulting placek is not particularly sweet. If you want it sweeter, brush the top with some butter and melted sugar before putting in the oven, then once again halfway through the bake. I've also made this with apricots, apples and pears - the latter I slice thinly and lay on top. This is great served with cream :-)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You don,t happen to know the size of that special Swiss roll tin, would you?  Might be useful to compare sizes... :)

Reynard's picture

are 8.5 inches x 11.5 inches by about an inch deep :-)