Every year there seem to be "new" discoveries to make at the farmers market. Some fruit or vegetable that I just never really noticed before seems to jump out at me and I start seeing it everywhere, and see recipes all over the internet that I probably would have just skipped over before. This year I "discovered" Italian Prune Plums. They are a small, egg shaped, dark purple/almost black plum that is nice enough raw, really shines when baked. Hence this recipe. I bought a small basket a few weeks ago and ate them raw in yogurt with granola. Nice, but certainly not something to write home about. But then I saw the recipe for this yeasted breakfast cake. The description of the plums baking up into a "sweet-tart, floral, rich, and grapey" when cooked left my mouth watering. I was hooked.
This cake was a simple yeasted dough that was mildly sweet with just a little richness from butter and an egg. The perfect compliment to the juicey and tart plums that really did bake up into a deliciously jammy topping. Covered in a good handful of cinnamon sugar it really was the perfect late summer breakfast treat. Paired with a steaming cup of coffee you will not go wrong.
Pflaumenkuchen (Yeasted Plum Cake)
Adapted from Sweet Amandine, originally from My Berlin Kitchen, by Luisa Weiss
For the dough:
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- Grated zest of half a lemon (optional, I didn't have one but I know it would be great)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6-8 tablespoons (3-4 ounces) whole milk
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 egg
For the fruit and topping:
- 1¼ pounds Italian prune plums
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan or cake pan.
Make the dough:
Put the milk and the 3 tablespoons butter into a small saucepan and heat over the lowest possible flame, swirling occasionally, until the butter has just melted. Add the vanilla extract. Set aside to cool until lukewarm. Meanwhile, blend the dry ingredients - the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, yeast, lemon zest, and salt - in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg with the lukewarm milk and butter. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a loose dough. Knead on medium speed for about 4 minutes, or until a smooth dough forms. If your dough is sticky, add a tablespoon or two of flour, only as much as you need to keep it manageable. Form the dough into a ball, place it in the buttered pan, cover with a towel, and let it rise until it's doubled in bulk, anywhere from one to two and a half hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Prepare the fruit and topping:
While the dough rises, heat the oven to 350 degrees, and pit and quarter the prune plums. Stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and leave to cool.
When the dough is ready, deflate it with your fingertips. Push it down evenly along the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Gently press the quartered plums into the dough at a 45-degree angle, making concentric circles. (Start at the edge and work your way toward the middle.) If you have extra plums on your cutting board once you've arranged your circles, squeeze them in somewhere. The more plums, the better. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, spoon the melted butter over top, and set aside, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Bake for 40-45 minutes (the original recipe called for 30-40 minutes, but mine was definitely not done at 30 minutes, and was questionable at 40; I'd start checking at 30 just in case your oven runs a little hotter than mine, but it may take 45 + minutes so use your best judgement), until the crust is brown and the plums are bubbling. Cool until the fruit is no longer hot.