I have an excellent memory for cake (yeah, I know, it’s a real talent!) … I have a very clear memory of the gorgeous cream-filled Victoria sponge that I ate on a trip to the lovely town of Ardmore in Ireland in about 1984 – not to mention the meringues we had in Denmark when I was about 16. One of my fondest memories of a lovely 3 years spent in Sheffield is the amazing beesting cake (bienenstich) we used to get from Yvonne’s bakery in Eccleshall Rd. Sadly (for the sake of my arteries and waistline), I could go on..
Some of my best cake memories are from Germany – of course. I’m particularly fond of Pflaumenkuchen (plum cake) and because we are rather overrun with plums at the moment (19kg from the tree so far, and counting), I decided that I really had to try for an authentic plum cake. So we’ve had a go at translating a German recipe in our attempt to recreate delicious cakes of fond memory.
German Plum Cake
200g plain white flour
pinch of ground cinnamon
- Warm the milk at low temperature for a few minutes in a saucepan, then take it off the heat and add the butter, and leave to melt.
- Meanwhile put the yeast, sugar, flour, salt, lemon rind and cinnamon and egg in a bowl (or a mixer bowl).
- When the butter has melted and the milk is lukewarm, add to the other ingredients and kneed for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes by machine.
- Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes.
- Knead again for 5 minutes (hand) 2 minutes (machine), cover the bowl again and leave for another 15 minutes.
- Whilst the dough is having its proving process you can get on with the other preparations.
- Cut the plums in half, remove the stone and then quarter the plums lengthwise – prepare around a kilo of plums, but have some spares in case you need to fill in any gaps.
- Put the topping ingredients all together in a bowl and then rub them together with your fingertips (or you can use your mixer again), until you have a mixture like lumpy breadcrumbs.
- Prepare a baking tin/tray – you need something around 30 by 40 cm. I used a large flat bottomed roasting tin, lightly oiled and lined with a piece of baking parchment. If you don’t have a large enough pan you could always make 2 smaller cakes.
- Preheat your oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
- When the dough has had its second rise, put it on your baking tray or tin and roll or press it out until you have a rectangle around 28x30cm (if you are using your hands then it really helps to wet them a little first).
- Put the prepared plums onto the dough in straight rows, long edge to long edge (sorry I forgot to take a picture of this bit, which would have been useful!), and overlap the rows of plums a little at the pointy ends – make sure you are nice and generous and squeeze in as many plum pieces as possible.
- Sprinkle the crumble topping over the plums – get it right up to the edges if you can.
- Bake the cake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until it is nice and firm in the centre and the crumble topping is lightly golden.
- Leave to cool in the tin / on the tray for a while, and then cut into nice big pieces and transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight tin.
Serve with coffee in the afternoon, with cream or mascarpone as a pudding, or treat yourself to a very luxurious breakfast. This cake is best eaten fresh, but if you don’t have lots of friends (or a small number of very greedy friends) coming round to help you eat this straight away, then you can wrap and pack the slices and freeze them until you need them. Just defrost for a couple of hours at room temperature, and warm up a little in a preheated oven.