And thus I resume my adventures into more German food making.
Last year I made this German Apple Pancake. And prior to that there is of course spaetzle which Popo would make for Kristen and I when we were kids so it has a special place in my heart. We were obsessed with it but ate it in the least German way possible with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese. I can feel my friend Mark cringing and cringing. But we will talk about spaetzle on another day.
This pflaumenkuchen which I have pronounced again and again in my head and got kind of freaked out when hearing this pronunciation, is something that I stumbled across by accident. Well not completely since I religiously read Molly's blog. It got me researching more about pflaumenkuchen and it sounded fascinating. Why would you not top bread dough with fruit and streusel? It basically combines all of the things that I like. And since it was finally gloriously cool enough to make bread, I decided to tackle this thing that I had known nothing about only days before.
It starts with what is called a coffee cake dough. This is different than coffee cake that is actual cake. The bread version often has the same toppings, but the end result is a different texture and the dough includes yeast. And of course the premise is that you would make this and eat it with coffee. As a non-coffee drinker, I would eat this anytime of the day coffee or not but can see it going well with a hot beverage. This dough is nice in that you can refrigerate it overnight and pull it out the next day/morning when you need it.
Like focaccia, you flatten it out on a large sheet pan. It helps to do this in increments and let the dough relax so you don't get too frustrated if it isn't spreading out. In the meantime, you want to thinly slice these gorgeous Italian plums. I have never worked with Italian plums before so was surprised to find their centers to be such a bright pretty green. These are more firm and less juicy than regular plums which makes them perfect for topping something like this where you don't want the end result to be soggy.
And of course, you top it all with streusel which if you have been around this blog for a while, know is something that I love to top on so many things. It really makes any baked good a million times better. For more, see these cranberry muffins, this banana cake, this apple, cranberry and ginger pie, this lemon and blueberry cake, and these peach doughnuts. Whew.
I am amazed at how these plums change color in the oven. They turn from bright green to a beautiful magenta/fuchsia. Basically the only kind of pink that I actually love. The plums melt into both the cinnamon sugar mixture and the streusel and are a perfect compliment to the bread base which is crisp and chewy with a light crumb. I ate a quarter of this in one day. It is so good fresh. But, also good toasted the next day or two while warm out of the oven.
I definitely want to make more iterations of this. Perhaps with apples the next time around?
Plum Streusel Cake (Pflaumenkuchen)
Yields: 8-10 servings
This dough can be made the night before. Just remove it two hours before you want to use it to allow it to come to room temperature.
If you don't have the patience/time to lay out fruit in an organized manner, feel free to even distribute across the top of the cinnamon sugar mixture. We'll call it rustic.
I almost ran out of plums but had to slice the thicker slices into two and was able to just make it.
I would certainly double the streusel the next time around. Feel increase the flour, sugar and butter amount to a ½ cup each.
½ cup milk
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups of flour plus more for kneading.
Cinnamon Sugar and Plums
Butter to lightly grease a half sheet pan
¾ teaspoon cinnamon sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ pound of Italian plums
¼ cup flour
¼ cup butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Bring milk to a simmer with sugar, salt and butter. Do not boil. Cool to lukewarm. To proof yeast, place water in a large, warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. Stir in milk mixture making sure it has cooled to lukewarm and then add in the egg and half the flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is very smooth. Keep adding flour until dough is somewhat stiff and tacky. Remove from the bowl and knead by hand adding a little bit of flour until the dough is cohesive, smooth and sticks together but not on your hands. This should take about 10 minutes.
Let the dough proof in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and then a warm, damp towel. You can let it proof overnight or in a warm, draft-free place for about two hours or until doubled in size.
Once proofed, knock down the dough and knead 10 times to release any other air bubbles. Thoroughly butter a half sheet pan and start spreading the dough with your fingers to get it thick enough to spread across the whole sheet pan. If the dough is bouncing back, let it rest a few minutes before trying again. You can also try pre-rolling it with a rolling pin and spread out the rest in the sheet pan.
In the meantime, mix the ¾ teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of sugar together. Pit the prunes and cut into thin slices, about ⅛-inch thick. Once the dough has been spread across the whole sheet pan, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly across the whole surface. Place the plums on top of the cinnamon sugar mixture in an even pattern. This does require some patience so put on some good music or a show in the background or use it as a meditation/thinking process.
Once all the plum slices have been placed, let the dough rise for an additional 30 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350ºF. For the streusel, mix together the flour, butter, sugar and cinnamon with your fingers until the mixture resembles sand. Sprinkle evenly on top of the plums. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the center is cooked through. I slightly overbaked mine by 5 minutes but it turned out okay.
Best if eaten immediately. Pieces can be frozen and reheated in the oven until crisp.