This year autumn has arrived with a brutal start. One day hot balmy weather – the next – wham-bam-thank-you-mam and we wake up to rain, morning mists and a drop in the temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius. If you are getting used to bracing walks with the dog then you may want to come home to this traditional German plumb cake going with the somewhat quirky name of Zwetschgendatschi. I’ve been scratching my head trying to think of a suitable English translation for this glorious cake. Simple “Plumb Cake” fails to do justice to this magnificent masterpiece. “Zwetschgen” is the German word for the damson plum and the tartness of damsons works well in this recipe. That all said I’ve made this cake with just about any plum going and it has always worked out brilliantly.
The yeast base is excellent at absorbing all the excess juices that plumbs release when they are baking. The crumble on top gives it a wonderful crunch and the sweet tartness of the plumbs conjure up early autumn in a way no other fruit can. Serve with some whipped cream or custard – or just on its own.
1.5-2 kg of damsons.
For the yeast base
500 gr. plain flour,
100 gr. sugar
250 ml of luke warm milk
1 packet dried yeast (5-7 gr.)
80 gr of butter
A pinch of salt
For the crumble
120 gr of butter, 120 gr of sugar, 175 gr of wheat flour, 1-2 tsp. of cinnamon
Begin by preparing the yeast base. Melt the butter, sugar and milk over a gentle heat. Pour the flour into a deep bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs, pinch of salt, dried yeast into the well and then add the melted butter, milk and sugar. Bring the ingredients together and begin to knead. Knead for around five-ten minutes. Leave in a warm spot to rest. If you are using packaged yeasts it will take under an hour for this to double in size.
While you leave the dough to rest prepare the crumble by pouring all the ingredients (flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon) into a bowl and mixing them together with your hands until they form crumbs.
Cut the plums in half and remove the pips.
When the yeasted dough is ready roll it out with a rolling pin. In these pictures I’ve used a round shape – traditionally this cake is baked in a large square shaped baking tray. I would recommend you use a baking dish with high walls. This catches any escaping juices. If you only have a smaller baking tray or cake tin or you wish to bake a smaller amount reserve half of the dough and half the crumble and freeze for later use. Add the dough to your tray and pierce with a fork.
Place the cut damsons on top …
….and sprinkle with the crumble.
Place in the oven and bake for around 45 minutes in the oven on 180 degrees centigrade.