Vegan Italian plum cake
Plums, Italian Plum, Moyer Plum, Zwetschgen, are the names that different countries around the world call this beautiful “Italian Plum”. I believe the official name is Moyer, and it’s the best and really only plum we use for our plum cake. This variety tends to deliver medium size, oblong shaped fruit. The taste is juicy, sweet and delicious. This particular recipe we call Zwetschgen, or Vegan Italian Plum Cake is a recipe that has been in our family for generations. The Germans LOVE this fruit torte or kuchen, making it easy to understand why and how it’s lasted as long in families as it has. Simply put, it’s a very traditional fruit tort with a yeast based dough.
You’ll see these plums growing everywhere during the peak of the season-dark purple/green skin, ranging in all different sizes, but shaped in the very noticeable way. These fruits reach their peak the end of July into the first two weeks of August. This begins the rush of the season. But you will never find this special plum sitting in the fruit bowl. Instead, you’ll find this fruit as the star component to this seasonal delight the German’s call zwetschgenkuchen, or if you’ve married an Italian, the Italian plum cake!
Traditional family recipe with options
There are basically three varieties of this recipe. All three are great choices, sometimes it just boils down to how much time you may or may not have.
First, you can just keep it plain and simple with the dough, and layered fruit-sprinkled with a bit of sugar. Bake, let cool and serve bare or with a dollop of cream.. Very simple, very delicious.
Second option is the traditional German method which is adding a layer of streusel on the top before the bake or at the last 15 minutes of the bake. The German’s love the streusel topping and they tend to use it on many of their fruit tortes. (apfelstreusel) Streusel if you don’t know is the crumble topping made from butter (or vegan butter), sugar and flour. American’s know this topping as “cobbler”. The 3 ingredients are combined by hand until you get large size crumbles, which are then dropped over the top and baked. It’s a great touch and adds the perfect amount of sweetness and additional flavor.
Third option is finishing the torte with a vanilla pudding sauce. I make the pudding fresh, (vegan milk, sugar and corn starch, cooked over heat until it thickens) then drizzle over the top, and falls into the nooks and crannies between the fruit and dough. The finish product is a creamy delight adding a bit of moisture that offers a beautiful presentation. All options are a delight.
The many varieties of plums…
Though no surprise, there are many varieties of plums in the world. For this recipe, we only use the Italian plum, or the Moyer plum. This particular variety offers oblong shaped fruits with a soft yellow/green center. The outside skin is redish, greenish/purple and often ripens with a dull white film on the outside which easily polishes or washes off. These are the best plums for the cake. Why? Unlike most plums, these are quite strong in the center, they cut well and are easily de-pitted. Additionally, the taste of these plums is just phenomenal.
The Germans love this fruit too. They call it “Zwetschgen”, and you’ll be hard pressed if you don’t find this cake in every bakery around town during the peak of the season. I think the appeal of this cake is the simplicity. It consists of a nice under tort (dough base) which is a yeast based dough and therefor needs to rise. The dough is then spread out flat and topped with the cut plums either face up lined up on their sides. The cake is then baked and during that bake, the sugars and juices are released. The fruit softens and releases the sweetness of the season.
Give this cake a try-in fact, try all three options and let us know which is your favorite. Don’t be surprised if you love all three! Remember, this is a traditional seasonal cake, so you only make it when the height of plum season is upon us. Work with the best plum out there, the Moyer plum. It’s not stringy, and it’s a rather solid piece of fruit. Perfect for the outcome of your perfect, Vegan Italian Plum Cake.
Vegan Italian Plum Cake
- 500 gr flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch used as a binder instead of eggs
- 1 tsp sugar for yeast mixture
- 25 gr yeast fresh
- 250 ml oat milk vegan
- 80 gr margarine vegan butter, or oil
- 75 gr sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1.5 kg plums Italian plums, cut in quarters
- 2 tsp bread crumbs for bottom and top of dough
Vegan Vanilla Pudding
- 2 cups oat milk
- 2 TBS cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar optional to add a pack of vanilla sugar for flavor
- Add flour in bowl and make hole in the center. Prepare the yeast by adding a small amount of warm oat milk and a tsp of sugar until a thick liquid paste forms. Pour mixture in center of flour and let it sit for 30min.
- Now slowly add the rest of the oat milk, the warm margarine (not liquid), sugar and cornstarch. Mix well with a dough hook. Dough should not stick to bottom of bowl.
- Add some flour to the bottom of the bowl, add the dough and let it rise again.
- rising process should be about an hour and dough should double in size.
- Prepare the baking sheet by greasing pan with melted butter and spread about a tsp of bread crumbs
- Spread dough out on bottom of baking sheet by hand and be sure to meet the corners of the dough to the corners of the baking sheet.
- Prepare the fruit: Wash, pit and cute the plums in quarters.
- sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs over the top of the prepared dough before you line the sheet with the fruit, this is to absorb the moisture from the fruit. Lay the fruit in an orderly form
- Now bake the Vegan Italian plum cake for about 20 min at 200 °C (a bit under baked)
- Prepare the vegan vanilla pudding by combining the milk, cornstarch and sugar over medium high heat until thick.
- Poor the vanilla pudding over the pre-baked cake and bake for another 10 min