PLUM CAKE (Zwetschgen Kuchen)
from Joan Thormann
This is a special kuchen since it can only be made in late summer and autumn when Italian or prune plums are available. It is also a beautiful cake, which always brings “ooohs” and “ahhhs” when served to someone who hasn’t seen it before or even those who had it the previous year.
When I visited the Boston area German refugees in the plum season, I would be greeted with coffee and some variety of plum kuchen. This is the variety that my mother made, and I think her recipe is the best.
Murbe Teig Pie Crust for 2 round pies (8 or 9″ round) or one 9″ x 13″ rectangle
4 oz butter (one stick)
4 oz sugar (½ cup) ½
8 oz flour (1 ½ cup)
12 to 14 medium sized prune plums for each pie dish
1 to 1½ tsp tapioca
Mix the crust ingredients together to form a ball, and put it in the refrigerator while preparing the plums. This makes two pie crusts or one large pyrex dish of cookie sheet crust.
Cut one side of each plum along the seam line and remove the pit, keeping the two halves together. Make two slices in each half of the plum, from the top to about half way down.
When finished slicing the plums, take the dough out of the refrigerator and cut it in half. Butter the pie plate or spring form very well. Flatten the dough out and then place in the pie plate. With the heel of your hand and fingers spread the dough into the pie plate. Poke dough with fork a few times. Bake the dough for about 10-12 minutes at 350°.
Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with minute tapioca (about 1- to 1½ tsp), to absorb the plum juices. Place the plums skin side down in the crust starting at the outer edges and filling the crust in circles. Bake for about 15 minutes at 400° and then another 30 to 45 minutes at 350°. The pie is done when the plum juices flow. It sometimes takes over an hour.
When you take the cake out of the oven, you may want to sprinkle it with sugar if the plums are not very sweet. My mother always did, regardless of sweetness. I like the tartness of the plums, so I never sprinkle it with sugar. Try it both ways.