Friday, August 15, 2014

Zwetschgenkuchen {German Plum Cake}

I'm ready.  Done.  That's all she wrote folks....

I have never been one of those women who gets all glowy in pregnancy.  I don't gush and squeal and get all excited about ultrasounds.  I'm much more matter of fact about things.  I get the medical, clinical side of things and that's what I'm comfortable with.  But you're not going to see me glowing in all of my impending mommy-ness.  That's just not me.  I'm not even really a baby person.  I don't think I've ever walked up to a stranger with a baby and gotten all gooey about the baby's cuteness.  Other people babies make me a bit uncomfortable.  I'll hold your baby if you ask, but I'm not going to be the first to volunteer.  Not even the second if I'm being really honest.

Don't get me wrong- I love my children more than I ever would have thought possible.  I loved them when they were babies and was so thrilled that each of those little people was mine.  I've just found myself more comfortable with them as they've grown older.  More at ease and like I fit in my role as a mom.  I think I hit my stride somewhere around the 2 year old mark with each of my boys.  I enjoy them and their unique personalities and I feel much more like I fit into this "Mom" skin of mine.  So I guess to me, it's no surprise that I'm sort of ready to get on with this show. And by that I mean baby #3.

It's taken me this long to get used to the idea that there will even be a baby #3.  That's funny, I know.  The reality seems to finally be hitting me and I've gone into a bit of a nesting mode.  Names are being debated.  My husband and I never seem to agree until the last second and to his credit (shhhh...don't tell him I said this....) he is the one who's come up with the winning name each time with the boys.  We've got a little over 3 weeks until baby sister comes along, we'll come up with something great.  I'm just ready...

Makes 8 muffin-sized cakes.
For the printable recipe, click here.

This is one of the first treats I had here in Germany.  It's everywhere this time of year.  We're in the heart of plum season and this plum is one of two (the other being the Mirabelle) that you would typically find in the markets.  The plum to use here is called, in German, a Zwetschgen.  You might find it in the U.S. labeled as an Italian prune plum.  Damson plums would also be great in this recipe.  Of course, any plum you use will taste great so don't hesitate to try it if you can't find the ones I've used.  I did a bit of a take on the traditional in a couple of ways.  Usually this is baked as one large tart-like cake (in some parts of Germany the base is even made with a yeast dough, but not here in the south).  I've done them as mini cakes which I find get eat more quickly around my house.  And in deference to my gestational diabetes I tried to back off on the sugar and white flour.  I subbed in some oat flour in place of plain flour and I think it's really deliciously nutty.  One last note- in the photos you'll see some plum slices poking out.  I wish there had been way more!  So I'm going to write the recipe with that in mind.  If you're going to make a plum cake, you really need to taste the plum!

For the cake base:
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
5 tbs butter, room temperature
1 tsp lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs oat flour (if you can't find this in the store, you can grind whole rolled oats into a powder in a food processor)
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbs milk

8 Italian prune plums or Damson plums (or 6 regular plums)

For the streusel:
3 tbs cold butter
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 tbs rolled oats

You can make the cake base by hand, with a food processor or mixer.  I did it in my food processor, but the steps would remain the same.  Place the sugar, butter and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and blend until light and fluffy and the sugar has dissolved.  Add the egg and quickly incorporate until the mixture is smooth.  Mix in the flours and baking powder and then the milk.  You will have a smooth, soft dough not unlike a cookie dough.  Refrigerate for a half hour to set the dough slightly.

In the meantime, pit and slice the plums into 6 slices (for the prune plums or Damsons, at least 8 slices for a larger plum).  Make the streusel by stirring together the sugar, flour and oats.  Using your fingertips, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until the streusel holds together in clumps and the butter in in pieces about the size of peas.

Remove the cake base dough from the refrigerator and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Divide the dough into 8 balls and press each ball into the bottom of a regular sized muffin cup, pressing so that the dough is even and also spread slightly up the sides of the muffin cup.  Place as many plum slices as you can fit into the muffin cup.  Repeat this procedure for each of the 8 cakes.  Divide the streusel evenly over the plums in each cup.  Bake the cakes for about 20 minutes.  The tops will be firm to the touch and the streusel a light golden color.  Cool completely before serving.

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