German-Style Plum Cake “Pflaumenkuchen”

This is a very special and sentimental family recipe that I have made my own for german style plum cake (or pflaumenkuchen), one my Polish grandma would make every year in late August, early September when german plums were available at market or on friend’s trees. The recipe was passed to her from friends, and became a family tradition of ours to enjoy once a year at the end of summer. Grandma also made sure to freeze a batch or two as well so we could enjoy the cake in the winter and even at Christmas on a dessert platter. I have now captured the torch to be the official baker of plum cake. It is even approved by Grandma (trust me I have received a lot of feedback!).

Now, over the past few years I am not always able to specifically find authentic “german plums” consistently, however, at the local farmer’s market (The Burlington Mall Farmer’s Market), I have been able to buy either “early italian prune plums” or “violet plums”. These small plums have a bluish/purple skin like italian prune plums, but are smaller and are available late August before the Italian prune plums come out. They have bright green flesh inside and are quite tart. If you can’t find these small plums (they tend to be at market vs. in grocery stores), italian prune plums may be substituted (the smaller the better as they tend to be more tart). When baked the plums turn a beautiful vibrant purple and sweeten, and are absolutely divine in the soft cake with the sweet crumble topping. My recipe is a large cake that I bake in a 15 x 10 pyrex baking dish. You can halve the recipe and bake in one 11 x 7 pan.

For the Crumb Topping:
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
For the Cake:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of sour cream (regular or light)
  • Approximately 50-60 authentic german plums halved OR about 20 early/small Italian prune plums quartered
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a 15 x 10 baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Pulse the 3/4 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar and 6 tablespoons of butter in a small food processor until the mixture is coarse crumbs. Set aside the mixture in the fridge to stay cold, until you are ready to top the cake.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking power and pinch of salt. Set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the 4 eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract.
  6. Add in the flour mixture and sour cream and mix well until the batter comes together. The batter will be thicker in consistency and a beautiful yellow colour.
  7. Pour the batter into the parchment lined pan and smooth evenly over the entire surface (Tip: I use a small Wilton icing spatula which spreads the batter really well).
  8. Quarter your plums and place in rows on top of the cake. Fit as many as you can – the amount will depend on the size of the plums you have, but should take approximately 18-20 plums.
  9. Remove the crumble from the fridge and spread it evenly over the top of the plums.
  10. Place the cake into the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until the cake is golden, and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool completely.
*Tip: When I buy a large basket of plums at the market (approx 40-50 plums) I will make an entire 10 x 15 pan, and then quarter and freeze individually so we can enjoy a taste of cake until next plum season (just like Grandma did). The cake freezes really well.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Janet says:

    This is a wonderful plum cake to have with coffee….the BEST I’ve ever had! Thanks Kara!


  2. Nancy Parton says:

    Oh my! Best Plum Cake Ever! So moist and so tasty. I will be your taste-tester anytime.
    Nancy P


  3. Sebnem says:

    I am from Izmir Turkey. The cake was delicious. I baked it yesterday, we have enjoyed every bite and put the rest in freezer. Thank you and your Grandma…


    1. Kara Heald says:

      This makes me so happy!
      Thank you!


  4. Kathy says:

    Hands down the BEST plum Kuchen we’ve had! SO yummy!


  5. Felicitas Loranger says:

    What do you do with the cake after taking out of freezer? do you reheat in oven, what temp?


    1. Kara Heald says:

      Hello! I actually just let it defrost on the counter to room temp. Sometimes if still very cold, I just microwave it for a few seconds.


  6. Uli says:

    Can this cake be frozen?


    1. Kara Heald says:

      Yes! I bake and freeze it all the time so we can enjoy it in the winter.


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