Last year was the first time I saw the little oval shaped, blue plums – called Italian plums here – at the grocery store. You can normally find the round type of plum, black or purple, year round in the produce aisle, but for some reason, the Italian plums only show up in season. I found a recipe in My Berlin Kitchen – my trusted source for good German recipes in English – for zwetschgen kuchen, Michael’s favorite, and later a slightly improved version of it on David Lebovitz’s website.
So when the plums became available this summer, I had to try this cake (or tart) right away. It was fun and easy to make – I made the dough by hand, as written in the recipe. The end result was delicious, not too sweet, with just a hint of tartness from the plums. It would be no doubt excellent with some vanilla bean ice cream on the side.
Dough and plum topping
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (225g) flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast, or 1/2 ounce fresh yeast, crumbled
1/2 cup (125ml) whole milk, divided
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled to room temperature
pinch of salt
grated zest of one lemon
1 1/2 pounds (700g) Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered
3/4 cup (50g) sliced almonds
1/2 cup (70g) flour
6 tablespoons (70g) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ounces (55g – 4 tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed, cold
Butter a 9- to 10-inch (23 cm) springform pan.
Mix flour, 2 tbsp sugar, salt and zest in a large bowl, set aside. In a separate small bowl mix 1/4 cup milk, 1 tbsp sugar and yeast and let rest for 5-10 minutes, until mixture begins to foam. Stir in the remaining milk, egg yolk, 3 tablespoons of melted butter, and mix everything together well. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and put in the buttered cake pan. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled.
While the dough is rising, make the streusel topping. Put the almonds, flour, brown and granulated sugars, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the almonds are broken up. Add the 2 ounces of butter and salt and process until the mixture first becomes granular, then begins to clump together.
Use your fingers to smooth the yeasted dough across the bottom of the pan and about half an inch (1 cm) rim up the sides. Place concentric rounds of prune plum wedges over the dough, within the rim, pushing them close together.
Sprinkle streusel topping over the top and let the dough rise 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Bake the tart for 45-55 minutes, until the streusel topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz