Italian Plum Cake

Source: Marcel; cir.1990

Italian plum cake
Italian plum cake, ready to bake

Italian plum cake or Zwetschgenkuchen

End of summer is the usual time for this delicious Italian plum cake. It’s made from one type of plum, known as the Italian Plum, or the Zwetschgen. It’s a very popular German tradition to make this Zwetschgenkuchen with the crumble (streussel). I didn’t know this recipe until I met my husband. This just happens to be one of two desserts he can bake. When I say this cake is a big deal with German’s, I’m not lying. Living in California, I would get calls from German friends and family to see if my Italian plum’s were ready. This event is timely with summer. It’s usually on or around the first week of August that you can pick yourself a nice giant basket of these little oblong shaped fruits. De-pitting them is another story, not difficult, just timely.

This oblong-shaped Italian plum, also known as the Empress plum is very high in sugar, and very easy to de-pit. Thus making it the only plum of choice to bake with. This recipe is very traditional for the German culture, and symbolizes to the German’s what apple pie symbolizes to the American’s. Beware though, this cake disappears very quickly!

Italian Plum Cake

Once made, keep your eye on it if you wish to slow the consumption…otherwise, serve and watch it be enjoyed by everyone who eats it.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Swiss
Keyword Cake
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Rising Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 1 tray



  • 3 1/3 cup flour
  • 0.7 ounce fresh yeast about 20gr
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or 1 stick
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/8 cup bread crumbs


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter or 1/2 lbs (230gr)
  • 2 pinches vanilla sugar or cinnamon sugar



  • Mix the dough and let it rise for about 1 hour.
  • In the meantime take about 2 to 3 pounds of plums, wash them, then remove the pits.
  • After the dough has risen, put it on the tray and form a border.
  • Now put a little bit of breadcrumbs down. (this will absorb the moisture from the plums) Now add the plums evenly.
  • For about 25 to 35min bake by 200 °C.

crumble topping

  • This is our default crumble topping. (see below for an alternate option) Prepare the crumbles like below and put on top of the plums.
  • Mix the flour with the cold butter and sugar by hand for about 2min.

pudding topping

  • make a vanilla cream sauce, or a pudding (find recipe, or work from a package recipe).  spoon on top once baked, refrigerate for an hour to set. 
    Italian plum cake


Instead of the crumble topping use Vanilla pudding filling. While baking the cake, make a fresh vanilla pudding. After about 20min, take the cake out and fill all the gaps in the cake with the pudding. Now bake for another 5 to 10min.
  • Adding the vanilla cream
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