plum cake recipe and demo

Plum cake, or zwetschgenkuchen, is a traditional German dessert that is only available in late summer and early fall–when Italian prune plums are in season.

Made with plum slices tossed in cinnamon and baked in lightly sweet, crumbly dough, plum cake is our favorite late-summer tradition. The season has ended for 2020, but we still have Birgit’s plum cake lesson from WGN Lunchbreak!



Yield: One 10” cake


For the plums:

approximately 25 Italian Prune plums (if you can’t find prune plums, empress plums are a good substitute)
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the dough:

2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 oz or 1 stick unsalted cold butter
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg

Prepare the plums:

Do this step first so that the plums macerate in the sugar and cinnamon while you make the dough.

Wash the plums and make a cut into the plum where the line is; open and take out the pit; do not separate the halves; do all the plums like this.

Place the plums on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, slice each half from top to bottom but do not cut all the way through; now you have a quartered plum with all 4 sections still attached to each other.

Place the quartered plums in a bowl, cut sides up, and sprinkle with ½ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Making the dough:

Combine all the dry ingredients in mixer bowl.

Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture with the paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed until the butter is crumbled into raisin sized pieces.

Add the sour cream and egg and mix on low until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix.

Grease a 10” pan and line with parchment paper on the bottom.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface, pat it into a flat circle; dust with flour as needed and roll it into a 10” diameter circle.

Gently fold the dough in half and lift it into the pan; unfold and smooth it out to the sides, making a little wall at the edges to keep the plum juices from running underneath the crust.


Starting from the outside edge, place the quartered plums in concentric circles until the dough is covered; use any small pieces of plum to tuck into any open spots.

Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 40 – 45 minutes. Test the center of the cake for doneness using a paring knife or cake tester; if the knife comes out clean the cake is baked and ready to come out.

When the cake has cooled to almost room temperature, it is ready to be turned out onto a plate; the cake should have separated from the sides a bit; loosen with a knife if necessary.

Put a serving plate or cake board on top and flip the pan over; immediately put another plate on the bottom and flip back right side up.

Slice with a serrated knife. Enjoy with whipped cream!