Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Summer Delight - Sugar Plum Cake

I remember it pretty well: those lazy afternoons in our garden, sitting on the terrace, and indulging ourselves in sugar plum cake. What, that doesn’t sound very decadent? Mind you, when I say indulging it means two huge baking sheets full of sweet yeast dough and studded with plums shared between five people. And it surly didn’t take all weekend to polish it off. Even with such an abundance of cake, someone peeking through our hedge-like shrubs could still find us fighting over the last piece – not to mention the heated discussions about who ate more than his or her fair share…

Some people might find this cake rather plain and won’t understand the fuss about it. However - tart-sweet plums on top of a tender yeast cake with a slightly soggy upper layer where all the purple juices join with the crumb – this simple combination sounds like heaven to me! Unfortunately, when moving to Australia I had to endure a full 15 months without sugar plum cake. Whilst one can find almost any exotic fruit in Sydney, I could spot not a single sugar plum. Until about ten days ago: Roaming through the bustle of Market City and doing my weekend shopping, there they were all of a sudden: purple-blue, nice and plump, with a seam and a pointed end. I happily bought a kilogram – of course, it was perfectly clear what to do with them. Had I just known that I wouldn’t be able to get some more the next weekend…I had big plans making plum compote, baking more plum cake, and freezing some for future use. Alas, the only thing I can do is to hope and wait for better luck the next weekend.

Sugar Plum Cake

The ingredients

100g butter
250ml milk
500g all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
100g sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar
1 sachet dry yeast or 30g fresh yeast
2-3 eggs (depending on size – if using three large eggs, use less milk)

1kg sugar plums, halved, stones removed
2-3 tbsp caster sugar

The yield
One third of the dough is more than enough to cover a spring form 24 centimetres in diameter. The rest of the dough can be baked as a brioche (or topped with other fruits, streusel, cream cheese/curd/sour cream filling – whatever strikes your fancy).

Melt butter. Pour cold milk into the melted butter, the mixture should be lukewarm. Set aside.

Mix other ingredients in a large bowl, making sure not to put the yeast next to the salt. Pour in butter-milk-mixture.

Using your mixer with the dough hooks, beat the dough until it comes together in a soft and wobbly mass. It should not stick to the sides of the bowl anymore. This step may take between 20 and 40 minutes (I confess I used my bread maker for kneading).

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until doubled in volume. Put the risen dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth again.

For the plum cake take about a third of the dough or less and flatten it inside the buttered baking tin. Be careful to roll out the dough very thinly because it will rise quite a bit during the baking process. Equal thickness of fruit and cake layer provides the best fruit-to-dough ratio in my opinion. Unfortunately, after my plum cake deprivation, I forgot about this important fact and made the cake base too thick.

Place plums on top of the dough in an upright manner trying to squeeze in as many as possible. Fan-bake at 150 degrees Celsius until the edges of the cake are golden brown (25-35 minutes).

Right after taking the cake out of the oven sprinkle roughly three tablespoons of caster sugar on top. This has to be done while still hot and will cause the plums to release their juices. Up to half of the cake base should get soggy from the juices – don’t be afraid, that’s the best part. Another reason is that the baking seems to bring out the tartness of the plums - even if sweet when tasted raw, the cooked plums will need some extra sugar.

The source

Vohenstraußer Kochbuch

The hint

Despite the obvious temptation, don’t eat this cake while still hot or lukewarm. It’s best when fully cooled. In fact, this cake tastes best on the second or even on the third day when all the flavours have thoroughly combined.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Eva, that looks so delicious! I never seen or eaten anything like that before. I better try to make it before the season for sugar plus is over. Just checking, how many grams of dry yeast is in the sachet that you used? Thanks!

- Nora

Eva said...

Usually, the sachets sold in AU contain 7g of dry yeast and that's what I used.
I'll probably be away over the weekend so I won't go to the market. Please tell me where you found your sugar plums - then I could go and stock up on them!

Anonymous said...


your little sickened sister

Anonymous said...

Hi Eva, I did find some sugar plums while I was in hunter valley this week, but it was too tempting, so I ate it all during my stay there. Now I have to look around for more if I want to try to make this cake this year.... - Nora

Anonymous said...

Hi Eva, I finally made this cake last night but I did two things wrongly - I didn't place the plums as close enough to each other as possible and I used way too much dough. The latter was hard to do because the dough was kind of sticky. In the end, it was a happy ending because it is delicious. It's hard to stop at just one slice. Another last point, when I sprinkled the caster sugar on the cake, somehow all the sugar didn't melt, so I put the cake under the grill and grilled it at high heat for 5 minutes to help the sugar melt. The end result was great because the sugar almost caramelised. I will send you the photo. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I will make it again & again.
Hope you are having fun in WA!
- Nora

Anonymous said...

I think I saw some sugar plums at Harris Farm. I will check again and let you know.
This looks sooooooo delicious!
I love plums so I cannot imagine how this could not taste amazing!

Sandy Smith said...

Nora, my oma used to make this same kuchen for us - served with mounds of sweet whipped cream. Haven't had it since she passed away, and until I saw your recipe, I thought I might never have it again.

Thanks so much for the recipe, and for the pictures, which brought me right back to plum kuchen in Oma's kitchen.

Anonymous said...

I visited Germany 5 years ago with muy Mum and meet my family there my Aunty made this cake which I feel in love but sadly my Mum lost the recipe. Just wondering how many grams of sugar are in the vanilla sugar sachet.

Eva said...

Hi Sarah,

I just checked and it's 8 grams. However, I've imported these little sachets from Germany myself so I'm not sure if you can get them here. If you have to substitute with other products, be sure to use enough of it as the German version is quite strongly flavoured.

Happy baking,

sunstone_maria said...

Best cake ever! Thank you!