We grow a great variety of plums in The Espaliery, including wonderful old European varieties which are impossible to find in the corporate food barns.
Our friend Heinz Thole, a chef of German origin, is staying with us this week and used an eighteenth century, blue-skinned variety of plum to prepare Zwetschgenkuchen, German Plum Cake, for a yummy Sunday afternoon treat. Here is the recipe he used.
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm milk (about 110° F)
1-1/2 packages or 3-3/8 teaspoons active dry yeast
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons of butter
2 pounds Italian plums
1/3 cup Turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Add a pinch of sugar to the warm milk and sprinkle with the yeast. Allow to sit for five minutes, then gently stir to incorporate any dry particles. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Set aside while you sift together the flour, granulated sugar and salt into a large bowl. Beat butter and eggs into the milk and yeast mixture. Pour into the flour, stirring until a wet dough forms. Turn dough onto a heavily floured surface, kneed lightly into a ball. Place in an greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour.
Wash and pit plums. Cut lengthwise into halves. If you prefer smaller-sized pieces, continue cutting into fourths. Grease the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking sheet or shallow cake pan. Roll out dough to the size of the pan and transfer to greased pan. Poke several holes with a fork in the dough. Cover the surface with the cut plums. Cut up remaining butter and place on top of plums. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 15 minutes as the oven preheats to 400° F.
Bake for 25 minutes until plums wilt and pastry is golden brown. Mix together turbinado sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle liberally over plums while warm. Allow to rest 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm. Store leftovers in fridge. Makes 20 slices.
For more on The Espaliery, including a list of fruit trees grown there, click here.