This authentic German plum cake tastes just like Oma's and is the best way to celebrate plum season. Start with a cookie-like crust on the bottom topped with a German cheesecake layer. Then pile on loads of fresh plums AND finally some buttery streusel.
This plum cake is perfect with a cup of coffee and freezes incredibly well for future Kaffee and Kuchen dates (so you only have to bake this cake once every season).
The fruit can be switched out for other fruit, and apricots, cherries, apples, rhubarb, or raspberries are often used in German sheet cakes like this one.
How to make it
Making plum cake isn't hard. It just takes a little bit of time and is even more fun to make when you assign some of the tasks to a friend and bake it together. Detailed step-by-step instructions are on the bottom of this post in the recipe card.
To make this plum cake, you start by combining all the dough ingredients for the cookie-like crust, let it rest for a bit in the fridge, then press it onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
To help the parchment paper not move around as much, I like to first spray the baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or rub it with oil before placing the parchment on top of it. I usually use my hands to press the dough down and then even it out with a small rolling pin like this one.
Now you will pierce the raw dough using a fork before putting it in the oven for just a few minutes to par-bake.
While the bottom layer of the plum cake is par-baking, prep your second layer, which is a German cheesecake layer. The Käsekuchen layer is made using quark, which you can order from this Missouri-based dairy farm online (they only ship in the colder months).
You can also substitute the quark by using half-low-fat cream cheese and half-fat-free quick-strained Greek yogurt like the Fage brand. It will taste a little different than the German version, but close.
After spreading the German cheesecake layer onto the par-baked bottom crust, you bake it again. While baking, prep your plums by washing, removing the stone, and slicing them into small wedges.
Combine your streusel ingredients in a bowl, knead them together by hand, then break them apart into crumbs.
Add the plums to the cake (or you can use other fruit such as apples, apricots, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.). Top with the streusel topping, then return to the oven again to finish baking.
Serve with fresh whipped cream (I add a little bit of powdered sugar and vanilla extract) and of course, a cup of coffee like you would for Kaffee and Kuchen time.
Can I freeze this cake?
Yes, you can! This plum cake freezes incredibly well. To save yourself time and energy, I recommend doubling the recipe, then cutting it into slices and freezing half of it or more. This cake tastes best when it is eaten within 2 to 3 months of the freeze date.
When ready to eat, simply let your plum cake slices sit out on a plate at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Want it warm? Put it in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds.
And don't forget to top it with whipped cream when serving. It's of course optional, but helps to make everything taste so much better!
This homemade plum cake uses mainly staple ingredients. Find detailed ingredients and amounts in the recipe card below.
- Flour. I use all-purpose flour in all of my baking recipes to keep things simple. I buy the organic brand in bulk from Costco because I go through so much of it!
- Sugar. I use cane sugar.
- Butter. I use grass-fed butter and it helps everything taste better!
- Baking powder. For some rising power.
- Eggs. They are used in the bottom cookie-like cake crust as well as the cheesecake layer.
- Vanilla. I use a pure vanilla extract that I make at home by combining scraped vanilla beans in a small bottle with vodka. I go through a lot of them at Christmas time when making Vanillekipferl cookies and Dampfnudeln and when making Milchreis (German rice pudding).
- Quark. This is a special dairy that is as common in Germany as yogurt (and similar in a way, except not as tart and a thicker consistency). You can buy it online from this dairy farm (they only ship in the colder months). You can substitute quark in this recipe with a mixture of half-low-fat cream cheese and half-thick-strained Greek yogurt (I like the Fage brand). The taste will be very similar.
- Corn starch. I use some in the cheesecake layer to help thicken it.
- Lemon. Since you're using the zest and the juice of the lemon, I recommend using an organic lemon.
- Almond flour. I use a mixture of wheat and almond flour for my streusel topping, although you can also use just either and not both.
- Plums. I buy whatever kind of plums I can find (usually the common red plum or black plums). If you can find Italian plums (they are smaller and called Zwetschgen in German), then you can also use those to make a Zwetschgenkuchen.
Watch this short video to help you understand how German plum cake is made. Then use the detailed recipe below to help you make it.
More plum cakes
Want to make a simpler German plum cake?
Check out this German apple streusel sheet cake and use plums instead.
I also love this rhubarb cake (you can use plums instead), which uses a yeast-based cake bottom and is SO SIMPLE to make.
Finally, this spiced plum tart with marzipan is also a super delicious and pretty way to eat more plums!
German Plum Cake (Pflaumenkuchen)
- 1 Baking Sheet I used a rimmed baking sheet, about 17 by 11 inches in size or 43 by 28 centimeters. A little larger or smaller is fine, too.
- 1 small rolling pin to help distribute the dough onto the baking sheet
- 1 Stand Mixer paddle attachment for the bottom layer and whisk attachment for the cheesecake layer
Bottom Layer Dough
- 1 kilograms fresh plums you can also use other fruit such as apricots, apples, berries or cherries.
Make the bottom crust
- For the cookie-like cake, knead together all dough ingredients until you achieve a dough with smooth consistency.350 grams all purpose flour, 100 grams sugar, 170 grams butter, ¼ teaspoon baking powder, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 pinch salt
- Form into a ball, cover in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ or 180℃ (conventional setting, NOT convection).
- Roll out the dough onto the baking sheet or press it down using your fingers and palms.
- Poke holes into the dough using a fork and par-bake for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, beat together soft butter and sugar until foamy. Add in the eggs one at a time. Add in the quark, cornstarch, lemon zest and juice and beat until incorporated.140 grams butter, 170 grams sugar, 4 eggs, 1 kilogram quark, 40 grams cornstarch, 1 lemon
- Using a spatula, spread onto the par-baked crust and bake for 30 more minutes.
- For the topping, prep your plums by washing, cutting them in half, removing the stones and cutting into wedges (about 8 wedges per plum).1 kilograms fresh plums
- For the streusel, using your hands, knead together flour, almond flour, butter and sugar, then crumble it apart with your fingers to make the streusel.120 grams flour, 60 grams almond flour, 80 grams butter, 60 grams sugar
- After the second stage of baking is finished, remove cake from the oven, and evenly distribute the plums first (I like to make pretty rows), and then the streusel.
- Bake for another 25 minutes (you may also turn on your broiler for a couple of minutes towards the end to add an extra golden color to the streusel).
- Serve with some fresh whipped cream (I add a little bit of powdered sugar and some vanilla extract in mine) and a cup of coffee. Oma will be so proud!
- raspberries, blackberries, red currants or other berries
Check out this German apple streusel sheet cake and use plums instead. I also love this rhubarb cake (you can use plums instead), which uses a yeast-based cake bottom and is SO SIMPLE to make. Finally, this spiced plum tart with marzipan is also a super delicious and pretty way to eat more plums!