Baking in the summertime has it’s pleasures, although they may not be obvious. Most of the reasons revolve around the summer fruits that are available. Yes, I know, watermelon and strawberries are cool and refreshing, but it’s still nice to sit on the porch after a long, hot day and enjoy a slice of cake with a tall glass of iced tea, right? Simple pleasures are rarely store bought.
I spent many summer vacations at the home of a college friend, Her mother was German, and she would stew plums with sticks of cinnamon for breakfast, and also make her German style plum kuchen, which she assembled from one of her many memorized recipes. Her cooking seemed like second nature, simple, fresh and always the best quality. Since that time in her kitchen, I have loved anything with cooked Italian plums.
Italian plums are oval shaped, almost like small footballs, and when eaten by themselves, they are rather lack-luster. But bake them in a cake, and they give a vastly different impression. Deep wine and cherry tones, with hints of almonds, their flavor is complex, and needs very few other ingredients. Placed simply on top of a crust, them seem to recreate themselves when placed in an oven.
The flavor of plums always takes me back to those summers in Long Island, when I was a completely care-free nuisance, prowling around my friend’s kitchen. Her mother was an excellent cook, and unknowingly shared with me all of her recipes, which I then committed to memory, as she did. I still make her salad dressings, breads, cured pork with turnips, and think of her when I see good rye bread.
(PS – College was a long time ago, y’all, but as opposed to what my sons think, we did not bonk two rocks together and call it word processing. I had an electric typewriter, thank you very much.)
Plum Kuchen with Cinnamon Pecan Streusel
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 50 min
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 12 Servings 1x
- Category: Baking
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Continental
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup pecans
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. butter, chilled, allsp (58 gr)
1 3/4 cups cake flour (200 gr)
2 tbsp. granulated sugar (25gr)
2 tbsp brown sugar (25 gr)
1/2 tsp salt (2 gr)
1/4 tsp allspice (1 gr)
pinch ground cardamom
8 tbsp. butter (115 gr)
1/2 cup whole milk (120ml)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (2.5ml)
1 tsp lemon rind (4 gr)
1 1/2 lbs Italian plums (680gr), pits removed and fruit sliced
To make the streusel, pulse together the brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon and 4 tbsp. (58gr) butter in a food processor until it turns into small crumbles. Remove from the processor, and set aside.
In a clean food processor bowl, add the cake flour, granulated and brown sugar, salt, allspice, and cardamom. Pulse briefly to mix. Add the butter, milk, vanilla, egg and lemon rind, and pulse together until the mixture resembles a course meal.
Heat your oven to 425°F (218°C). Prepare a 10″ (25 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray (I also like to line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.) Spoon the meal into the pan, and press the mixture down with your hands to form a crust. Make sure to press well into the corners of the pan.
Arrange the sliced plums in the prepared tart pan. Pour the streusel over the top of the plums, spreading out evenly.
Bake for 50 minutes, until the cake is well browned and the plums are bubbly.