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.



  1. I can't say it once, much less three times but it looks yummy and sounds delicious. It's always fun to learn new recipes here.

    Thoughts in Progress

  2. Mason, if you ever see it for sale at a bakery (doesn't happen often, but some German bakeries make it), try a piece. Bet you love it.

    ~ Krista

  3. Zwetschgendatschi! Oh, I think I'm going to have to say that word all day now, because it's so much fun.

    My daughter LOVES plums--they're one of her most favorite things to eat. So this looks like one to bookmark and try soon. Thanks for sharing it, Krista!

  4. I agree with Mason I can't even say it once ha. We all like plums here so this would be a great treat and this time I can after breakfast lol.

  5. What a wonderful word: Zwetschgendatschie!
    I'm going to teach it to the dudes -- just 'cause.
    My plum loving son will go mental if I make this -- thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe, Krista. GREAT post!

  6. Isn't it interesting that we have so many plum lovers. Elizabeth and Jenn, if you make it, let me know what your kids think.

    Babs, shh, don't tell, but I know two people who had Zwetschgendatschie for breakfast this morning!

    ~ Krista

  7. Oh, fantastic! Zwetschgendatschie is new to me and I thank you for the helpful pronunciation guide since it's clearly a mouthful -- and I can't imagine not enjoying a mouth full of this amazing treat. Your post also brings back memories for me. My father planted Italian plum trees in our back garden. No, we did not make Zwetschgendatschie, lol! But we did make jam and other yummy goodies. This is clearly a wonderful recipe to make with them, as well. Looking forward to trying it. Thank you, Krista!

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  8. Perhaps God bless you is in order ? ;)
    Sounds delicious. I love plums.

  9. This sounds like a wonderful treat! I love the texture of yeast-based cakes especially warm for the oven. I am drooling!

  10. Pflaumkuchen has been a traditional holiday dessert at our house -- my mother spent years trying to track down the recipe her mother made (hint-write down those family favorites!). I was surprised to stumble onto the right plums at the store so I will be making the dessert--but not my mom's recipe, since I haven't got a conversion for high altitude. Instead, I'm going to do it in a Muerbetieg crust.

    This recipe looks great (but mine are way, way simpler!)

    I have pictures of both versions on my blog from last year's holiday celebrations. Try this link.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  11. I love Marian Burros's classic recipe for plum cake, so I'm looking forward to this one! :) (By the way, Krista, I think the link to this blog is broken on your site; I clicked the olive wreath but wound up having to Google Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, to find it.)