plum cake

by Stacy

I didn’t like plums as a kid. My sister did, but I turned up my nose. Not remembering what they actually taste like, I didn’t know if it was a childhood dislike that I would outgrow, or if I just don’t like plums.

Then I saw Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for plum kuchen and immediately bought four plums. My husband doesn’t like plums. I wasn’t sure if I liked plums. But I had to make this cake. So I did.

EDIT: Several people mentioned that I didn’t say how the cake tasted. Well, I actually gave it away. The recipient’s response: “This cake is damntastic!” Hope that helps.

plum kuchen

I’m trying to use up all the flour in the pantry. The loaf of sandwich bread used up the whole wheat flour and made a dent in the bread flour. This cake used up some all-purpose flour. I have a lot of white bread in my future.

plum kuchen

See the plum layer on the bottom?

inverted plum kuchen

You do now. It’s such a pretty color!

slice of plum kuchen

It’s a yeast-leavened coffee cake, pretty much. The dough is mixed, then left to rise for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Then, a layer of butter, sugar, and plum slices is arranged in the baking dish. The batter is poured on top and allowed to rise again, then baked.

The only real change I made to the recipe was sprinkling a few tablespoons of coarse sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw) over the “top” to give a nice crunchy layer on the bottom of the cake. It worked out quite nicely, I must say.

The top is still the pretty part, though.

gorgeous plum topping

Plum Kuchen

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Gourmet
Makes 8 servings

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 (I used 2% and it was fine) (124 grams) (preferably Greek-style) at room temperature
1 large egg, warmed in shell in warm water five minutes
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (I left this out because I was out of lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 sticks (142 grams) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened, divided
3/4 pound firm-ripe plums (about 3-4), halved and pitted

Put warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Stir, then let stand about 5 minutes until foamy. If not foamy, start over.

After five minutes, add 2 cups flour, 2/3 cup sugar, salt, yogurt, egg, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix, using paddle attachment, about 1 minute on medium-low speed. Add only one stick of the butter, one tablespoon at a time, and beat until incorporated. Raise speed to medium and beat until dough (batter? It’s a little thin for “dough”) is smooth and shiny, about 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and sprinkle the last two tablespoons of flour evenly over the surface. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, 1.5-2 hours.

In a square baking dish (8 or 9 inch) spread the remaining quarter stick of butter that you definitely didn’t accidentally add to the dough due to reading the directions too quickly. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar on top of the butter, then arrange plums slices on top. They can be fairly thick as they will cook down during baking. I had large plums, so I cut mine into 6 wedges per half. Two and a half plums covered the bottom of my baking dish.

When dough has finished rising, stir to incorporate the flour sprinkled on top, then spread evenly over plums. Cover with generously-buttered plastic wrap (don’t skip this unless you want to risk deflating your cake!), then with a kitchen towel. Let rise again until almost doubled, about 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Carefully remove plastic wrap from cake, taking care not to deflate cake if stuck. If desired, sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of coarse sugar over the top. Bake cake on center rack until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Cool in pan 5-10 minutes, then gently run a knife along the edge of the cake. Place a wire rack upside down on top of the cake, then invert and finish cooling.

Serve with lightly-sweetened yogurt, sweetened creme fraiche, or ice cream or whipped cream. Or plain.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Birch August 6, 2009 at 6:54 am

But did you like it?

I bet Lee would have unsweetened whatever served with. She’s like that.


Birch August 6, 2009 at 6:58 am

Oh, and apparently hybrid plum-apricots aren’t labeled as such. So I’m not eating plums so that I don’t have an unexpected allergic reaction :-(


stacy August 6, 2009 at 7:18 am

Actually, I gave most of it away (that was the plan from the start) and only had the one piece. It was tasty, but I still don’t love plums. The color was gorgeous, but I would rather have a peach or a nectarine. Bummer about the apricot hybrid thing. =(


Kimberly August 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Ha, I always do the same thing with cherries when they’re in season and on sale. They look so pretty that I want to make cake with them, even though I don’t really care for cherries at all. And I really don’t care for pitting cherries!


stacy August 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Wow, cherries are one of the fruits I have never baked with because they get eaten too fast to make anything with them. Tell you what, you come visit us in California during cherry season. I’ll pit, you bake. =D


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