German Plum Cake - old school & summery

Updated: Jun 24

During summer, you can find this sheet cake on the dessert menus of cafés, restaurant, and at private garden parties or at Kaffeeklatschs. It’ll be even better the next day, when the juices of the baked plums are soaked into the top layer of the yeasted cake. Best of all, this is not a cloyingly sweet cake, it’s rather the flavor of the juicy plums that stands out.

The recipe is from an old German cookbook issued by an electric company, hence its title ‘Das elektrische Kochen’ (electric cooking). My mother learned with it and gave me the newest edition (45th) when I left home decades ago. Come to find out years later, that my MIL owned a cookbook with the same classic German recipes; only her book being released by a German gas company.


Ingredients all at room temperature:

375 g / 13 oz flour

40g fresh yeast cake OR

4 tsp instant yeast

1/2 ltr / 2 cups milk

1 egg or no egg for vegetarian recipe

75 g / 2.5 oz sugar

1 pinch salt

lemon rind or vanilla sugar to flavor

75 g / 2.5 oz butter

—— —— —— bread crumbs, almond meal or ground nuts

—— —— ——

2.5 kg / 5.5 lb Italian plums, stone removed and cut like a Mercator map so you can lay the whole fruit flat (see below)

—— —— ——

sugar for sprinkling, cinnamon for dusting


Make the yeasted dough:

add all ingredients to a mixing bowl. If you’re NOT using an egg, add a bit more milk. Knead all ingredients with the hook attachment of a kitchen machine until a smooth, supple dough forms. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 20 minutes in a warm location (in the oven with the light switched on for example).

Meanwhile, prepare the plums:

Cut the plums halfway down the middle, do not cut all the way through. Split the plum open like a book, pull out the stone. Make two more incisions at the tips and bottom of the plum halves so you can lay the whole plum flat.

Knead the dough once more. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Press the dough evenly onto the baking sheet. Cover the dough liberally with almond flour (bread crumbs or any other nut meal using) to absorb the fruit juices. Layer the plums, skin side down in rows and slightly overlapping like shingles onto the cake. Let the cake rest for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 F, positioning an oven rack in the middle.

Bake the cake for 35 minutes, turning it front to back half way through the baking time.

Take out of the oven, let cool until warm and sprinkle with sugar to taste (the sugar will melt into the fruit, releasing more of the juices), add pinches of cinnamon, too if you like.

When the cake is cooled, cut into rectangles and serve with whipped cream.

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