Showing posts with label Italian plums. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian plums. Show all posts

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Say that three times fast. What? You can't even say it once? Try this. Ts-wet-sh-gen-dot-she. Hint: Zwetsch rhymes with Fletch. Has to be fun with a name like that, doesn't it? It's also known as Pflaumenkuchen, which means plum cake in German. Apparently, it's the Bavarians, known for their colorful expressions and dialect, who call it Zwetschgendatschie.

When I was growing up, this was always a huge summertime treat. It only comes around for a very brief period in late August and early September when the plums are ripe. This recipe uses the same plums that prunes come from, also known as Italian plums and damson plums. In our neck of the woods, they've become very hard to find. So when I saw them at the farmers' market, I jumped on them like a cat on a fast mouse. Mine, mine, mine!

Aside from Zwetschgendatschie, they also make great preserves and they're delicious as is, too. If you're lucky enough to have one of these trees, cherish it!

Like a lot of recipes that have been around for generations (yes, I remember eating this in my grandmother's kitchen as a little girl), Zwetschgendatschie can be made many ways, so this recipe may not be exactly like your Oma's. It can have a yeast (breadlike) bottom or a cake bottom. It can be made with oil or butter. My family always preferred the yeast bottom, though it is a bit more work.

It's sort of like making a sweet pizza with plums on top, and a dollop of whipped cream. Those yummy German/Austrian/Hungarian desserts always call for whipped cream! If you're feeling very continental, pass a bowl of whipped cream so guests can help themselves. Of course, if you're serving this at tea time, no one will notice if you slip a spoonful of that decadent whipped cream into your coffee . . .

And now -- the elusive, once a year treat that you can't pronounce --


1 packet yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons warm milk

3 + cups flour
1/3 cup warm milk
1/3 cup melted butter (microwave for 25 seconds to melt)
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

4 pounds washed Italian plums

Mix the yeast, sugar, and 4 tablespoons warm milk in a small bowl and let sit about 10 minutes.

I used my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook for this next part. You may need more or less flour, depending on your machine. Place two cups of flour in the bottom of the mixing bowl. Add a bit of the warm milk and all of the yeast mixture. Mix a bit. Add the butter, eggs, sugar, and vanilla and mix into a dough, adding flour as needed. I used 3 cups total.

When the dough is a good consistency, turn out into a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm place out of drafts. Let rise until double.

Punch the dough down and preheat the oven to 375. Slice the plums lengthwise and pit. Butter an 11 x 16 baking sheet with a rim and roll out the dough (pushing with fingers actually works best). Open the plums and prop them up in a row. Overlap the next row slightly. Continue until the baking sheet is full. Let stand at room temperature for about half an hour.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. The dough should be baked through and the plums should be producing a bit of juice.

Meanwhile mix the 3 tablespoons sugar with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. On taking it out of the oven, immediately sprinkle with the sugar mixture.

Beat one cup of heavy cream, adding 1/4 cup of powdered sugar when the cream begins to take shape. Add the vanilla and beat.

Serve hot or cold, and always with whipped cream! One caveat, this is one of those dishes that is best the day it is made. It's not a make ahead dessert at all. It's fine the next day, but it really is best warm from the oven.