Italian Plum Cake (Zwetschgenkuchen)

Source: Marcel; cir.1990

Plum cake

Plum Cake

End of summer is the usual time for this delicious 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).  Luckily, our small farm orchard came with an Italian plum tree, to which my German mother-in-law would ask every year for some of our fresh Italian plums so she could make her yearly cake.  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.  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 3 Dessert/pudding
Cuisine Swiss
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
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 boarder.
  • 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.


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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