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Zwetschgenkuchen (German Plum Cake)

This is a recipe for Zwetchgenkuchen, a plum cake baked in Germany and Austria. What can you expect? A fruity sheet cake richly topped with streusel! Poppy seeds and a pinch of cinnamon add a flavorful hint.

About the Recipe

Traditionally, Zwetschgenkuchen is baked with yeast dough, but this recipe is faster with a simple mixed batter of semi-liquid consistency.

Just sprinkle the plums with ground poppy seeds and cinnamon, then add crumble topping (Czech drobenka) as a final touch for an even better and more authentic taste.

Other German names for this cake include Pflaumenkuchen or plum kuchen (Kuchen is a German word for cake).

TIP: Both Germany and Austria are countries neighboring the Czech Republic; our cuisines have many in common. If you want to try a Czech version of this recipe, check out this delicious plum streusel coffee cake.

Ingredients

For Zwetschgenkuchen you need:

LAYER WITH PLUMS:

  • Plums; fresh – look for Italian plums if you can
  • Poppy seeds; ground, for example, in an electric coffee grinder
  • Cinnamon; ground

STREUSEL: all-purpose flour, sugar, unsalted butter

Further, you need some butter and fine breadcrumbs to grease and sprinkle the baking tray.

You’ll find the exact amount of ingredients below in the recipe card, which you can also print out.

Instructions with Photos

BEFORE BAKING: Turn the oven on to 340 °F (170°C). Grease a baking tray with butter and dust with finely sifted breadcrumbs or flour.

STEP 1: Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add lukewarm milk, oil, and sugar. Crack the whole eggs into the bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until you have batter that is ready to be poured.

STEP 2: Pour the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth the surface with a spatula.

STEP 3: Now top the batter with halved plums (cut side up). Finely dust the plums with cinnamon and ground poppy seeds.

STEP 4: In a bowl, combine butter, flour, and sugar to make the streusel. Spread the crumbles over the cake.

STEP 5: Place the cake in the preheated oven. It will be ready in about 45 minutes.

Serving

Take the baked cake out of the oven and let it cool. Cut into approximately 3×3 inch (8×8 cm) slices and serve on a dessert plate.

The cake tends to crumble while still warm, so it is usually served with a small spoon or dessert fork on the plate. Once the cake has cooled, it becomes firm.

Equipment

Europeans bake classic cakes on a rectangular baking sheet. The finished cake is then cut into slices. For this plum cake, I used a rectangular baking pan of 17×12 inches (42 x 30 cm).

Useful Tips

  • Always place the plums on the batter with the cut side up. This keeps the juices out of the batter and makes the cake look spectacular on the cut side; the plums make nice curves or waves.
  • I grind my poppy seeds in an electric coffee grinder in just the amount I need. That way, I always have fresh poppy seeds on hand.

More sweet recipes:

    – Czech crispy sweet treat – with chocolate icing – Czech makovec

Zwetschgenkuchen (German plum cake)

This is a recipe for Zwetchgenkuchen, a plum cake baked in Germany and Austria. What can you expect? A fruity sheet cake richly topped with streusel! Poppy seeds and a pinch of cinnamon add a flavorful hint.

Course: Sweet Pastry

Cuisine: Austrian, German

Keyword: Fruit cake

Ingredients

Batter:
  • ▢ 3 cups (390 g) all-purpose flour
  • ▢ ½ Tbsp baking powder
  • ▢ 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • ▢ ½ cup (120 ml) cooking oil sunflower oil or Canola
  • ▢ 1 cup (240 ml) milk lukewarm
  • ▢ 3 eggs
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Plum layer:
  • ▢ 2 lbs (900 g) Italian plums fresh
  • ▢ ½ tsp cinnamon ground
  • ▢ 3 Tbsp poppy seed ground
Streusel topping:
  • ▢ ¾ cup (100 g) all-purpose flour
  • ▢ ⅔ cup (130 g) granulated sugar
  • ▢ ¾ stick (80 g) unsalted butter
  • ▢ 1 Tbsp butter to grease baking dish
  • ▢ 1-2 Tbsp sifted breadcrumbs or flour to dust baking dish

Instructions

BEFORE BAKING: Turn the oven on to 340°F (170 °C). Grease a baking tray with butter and dust with finely sifted breadcrumbs or flour.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add lukewarm milk, oil, and sugar. Crack the whole eggs into the bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until you have batter that is ready to pour.

Now top the batter with halved plums (cut side up). Finely dust the plums with cinnamon and ground poppy seeds.

  • SERVING: Take the baked cake out of the oven and let it cool. Cut into approximately 3×3 inches (8×8 cm) slices and serve on a dessert plate.
  • Always place the plums on the batter with the cut side up. This keeps the juices out of the batter and makes the cake look spectacular on the cut side; the plums make nice curves or waves.
  • I grind my poppy seeds in an electric coffee grinder in just the amount I need. That way, I always have fresh poppy seeds on hand.
  • Europeans bake classic cakes on a rectangular baking sheet. The finished cake is then cut into slices. For this plum cake, I used a rectangular baking pan of 17×12 inches (42 x 30 cm).

DISCLAIMER: Because I come from Central Europe, my recipes are based on metric units such as grams or milliliters. Check out how I convert metric units to the U.S. system:

Nutritional Estimate pro portion

Do you like the recipe? I would be happy for your feedback! Please, rate the recipe and share your opinion or questions in comments bellow. Thank you very much.

Reader Interactions

Comments

January 25, 2022 at 10:17 pm

Ahoy Petra,
I appreciate very much your prompt recent reply. I am in the process of studying your delightful Czech recipes and it’s a world of goodies to explore. My favorite is Strudel, plum cake, and bublanina. As far as your Zwetschgenkuchen, I noticed it takes very little baking powder. Or, is it a misprint and should it take 1 tablespoon rather than 1/2? My second and final question is could I make 1/2 recipe & use 9×13-inch glass pan? Please advise and thank you for sharing your delicious heritage recipes.
P.S. I think that cherries instead of plums would also go very well with this cake. Don’t you think so?

January 29, 2022 at 11:57 pm

Ahoj Petra,
I appreciate very much your prompt recent reply. I am in the process of studying your delightful Czech recipes and it’s a world of goodies to explore. My favorite is Strudel, plum cake, and bublanina.
As far as your Zwetschgenkuchen, I noticed it takes very little baking powder. Or, is it a misprint and should it take 1 tablespoon rather than 1/2?
My second question is could I make 1/2 recipe & use 9×13-inch glass pan? I think that cherries instead of plums would also go very well with this cake. Don’t you think so?
My third question concerns bublanina. In ingredients you state 1 cup of milk. But, then you add a tablespoon of warm milk to vanilla paste. Does it mean that it comes from the previously mentioned 1 cup or is it in addition to it? If I use vanilla extract instead of vanilla paste, do I still have to use a tablespoon of milk?
Please advise and thank you for sharing your delicious heritage recipes.

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January 30, 2022 at 2:17 am

Thank you for your detailed question, I will do my best to answer everything clearly.

Zwetschgenkuchen und bublanina are two similar sheet cakes. The basic difference between the two is that the plum cake batter uses vegetable oil and baking powder, while the fluffiness of the bublanina is mainly ensured by well-beaten egg whites. The result is that the plum cake is denser, while the bublanina is lighter.

On the other hand, recipes for bublanina vary from region to region, with some people adding a little oil (sunflower or Canola) to the bublanina as well to make it more buttery. In my opinion, a Zwetschgenkuchen is a bit easier to make because you don’t need to beat egg whites separately in its recipe.

To your specific questions:

I double-checked the Zwetschgenkuchen, and the recipe really only needs 1/2 tablespoon of baking powder. Here, the baking powder is a supporting agent to make the cake fluffy just right.

Cherries instead of plums are a great choice, since this kind of cake pairs well with many types of fruit such as plums, cherries, strawberries, or a mix of raspberries/blueberries and currants. If you use fruit other than plums, I might omit the ground poppy seeds as a sprinkle on the fruit.

Regarding the size of the baking dish: I think 1/2 the recipe could work for a 9×13 inch size. Please always grease the baking dish first with a little fat and dust with flour or finely sifted breadcrumbs.

Bublanina question: I add a tablespoon of warm milk to the egg yolks to make them easier to whip. When I prepare the dough, I gradually add the milk and flour to the beaten egg yolks. Finally, I carefully fold in the beaten egg whites by hand.

I hope this helps! Of course, if you have any other additional questions, feel free to ask.

All the best, Petra

January 31, 2022 at 10:42 pm

Ahoj Petra,
I really appreciate and am grateful for your most instructive answers. Bublanina sounds like a delicious cake and it is #1 on my list to bake (I think for Easter). I will let you know how it turns out for me, although I do feel my husband & I will love it. I will use blueberries in it as it is not the cherry season yet. Also, I will be making Czech jahodovy kolac. I
also think it would be equally tasty with blueberries. What attracts me to these recipes is the small amount of fat and the large amount of fruit, which makes them wholesome and delightful desserts. You gave me lots of enthusiasm for baking recipes from your country.
Thanks again & my best wishes to you.

February 01, 2022 at 7:25 am

Thank you, Marta! I will be happy if you let me know how the sheet cakes turned out. Fingers crossed!

April 02, 2022 at 9:00 pm

I baked a variant of the plum cake as a surprise gift for my girlfriend who comes home from a 2 week long work trip tomorrow. I used pears as plums are currently not in season in the US. My brother’s mother-in-law is Austrian and used to make this for me when I’d visit so I was excited to try this recipe out as I love German plum cake.
Your recipe was easy to follow and came out great. Thank you fir posting it! Take care!

April 09, 2022 at 3:20 pm

Ahoj Aaron, thank you very much for your lovely feedback! Glad to hear you liked the recipe and I hope your girlfriend enjoyed it too! You can easily use apricots instead of plums, it’s definitely a good choice. Best wishes, Petra

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Hi there, I’m Petra, a Czech mom of two teen boys with more than 20 years of cooking experience. I am here to share traditional recipes from the Czech Republic, a small country in the very heart of Europe.

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Red Plum Poppy Seed Cake

Plums are a fleeting summer fruit, and have been baked by grandmas all over the world into tortes, kuchens, tatins and gateaux. A plum torte is one thing my mother-in-law baked every summer, much to her family’s delight. This version includes the crunch of poppy seeds and slices of plum that melt into a moist, tangy jam-like surprise into the cake. Keep the cake wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days – if it lasts that long.

  • Prep Time: 1 hr 10 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hr 30 min
  • Servings: 8-10 servings

Servings: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 firm-ripe plums, halved, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons raw or turbinado sugar

Instructions

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Using heavy-duty mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then mix in yogurt and vanilla until combined, scraping down bowl if needed.

Step 4

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in bowl. Add to butter mixture and stir on low speed until batter is just combined.

Step 5

Step 6

Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on rack until completely cool. Invert onto serving plate and slice.