German Plum Cake

German plum cake is a dear guest at our house at least once a year (while the Stanley plums are in season). The recipe reminds me so of my high school years. I sat in my German class and looked through a German magazine trying to find an article to practice translating. I came across a beautiful photo and recipe of this cake, so I asked my teacher if I could translate the recipe instead of an article. She thought it was a great idea.

German Plum Cake

This recipe has been in my old, yellowed recipe book ever since. The cake is easily made and it’s huge. It can feed a large group of relatives or friends. It’s good warm or cold and it goes so well with a cup or morning coffee or tea. Enjoy my friends!

old recipe book

German Plum Cake

{Printable recipe}

Dough:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) low fat cream cheese (or German quark cheese)
  • 125 g (1/2 cup + 2 TBSP) sugar
  • 1 vanilla sugar (1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 10 TBSP milk
  • 10 TBSP oil
  • 1 small lemon (juice and zest)
  • 500 g (17.6 oz or about 4 cups) flour
  • 20 g (0.7 oz) baking powder

Filling:

  • 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)Stanley plums
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 vanilla sugar (1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 80 g (2/3 cup) flour
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) sliced almonds

Also needed:

  • 1 large rectangular baking pan (13 X 18 inches ) 33 X 46 cm.
  • Parchment paper

Preparation:

  1. For the dough combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla in a mixing bowl. Start mixing at a low speed, slowly adding milk and oil. Add juice and lemon zest. Combine flour and baking powder and stir well. Gradually add to the rest and mix until well combined.
  2. Cover the dough with plastic and let it rest until needed
  3. Wash, dry and pit plums. Half them and make a small cut on each half (as you going to quarter them), but don’t cut all the way through.
  4. Dust your working surface with flour. Place the dough on the surface and roll it out into the size of the pan. Line your baking pan with parchment paper and transfer the dough onto the pan.
  5. Place the plums in thick rows on the dough. Sprinkle with 3 TBSP of sugar.
  6. Beat 2 large eggs with sugar and vanilla until pale yellow, add flour and mix until smooth.
  7. Pour over the plums and sprinkle with sliced almonds
  8. Bake at 200 C (400 F) for 30-35 minutes or until lightly brown on the top.
  9. Cool slightly and slice into squares.

ENJOY!

German plum cake preparation

German plum cake preparation

German plum cake preparation

German Plum Cake

German Plum Cake

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Black Forest Cake or Die Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

A couple of years ago when I visited my homeland Bosnia I brought back a French/International cookbook, which my dad gave to my mom for their first marriage anniversary. So many things were taken out of our home during the war, and I was pleasantly surprised that our book collections were still there! The only thing missing from this book was its shiny photo cover which I remember so well. The cookbook it self has 750 pages full of the most spectacular recipes of French and International cuisine. The cookbook is by Henri-Paul Pellaprat “L’Art culinaire moderne” 1969 edition, and in Croatian translation it is just simply called “The Great Pellaprat”.  I remember as a child going through its pages, looking at all the photos and wondering how would all these amazing meals taste and how is it even possible to make such works of art.

Today was Father’s Day and a perfect day to try and bake something from this amazing cookbook. Out of the hundreds of dessert recipes I chose a familiar one – Black Forest Cake. Familiar, because after we left Bosnia, we lived in Germany’s Black Forest region, our children were born there and it was just an amazing time of learning to live away from home, accepting the life changes and building a better future for our children and us.

Black Forest Cake         Printable recipe

Serves 12-16 people

Cake:

  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 8 egg yolks (medium eggs)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) plain bread crumbs
  • 2.1 oz (60 g) blanched, ground almonds
  • 1.7  oz (50 g) dark cocoa
  • 8 egg whites (whipped)

Filling:

  • 14.5 oz (400 g) canned sour cherries
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • About 1 quart (900 ml) heavy cream (whipped) *** Original recipe calls for 600 ml, but that was not nearly enough to frost the cake inside and out and decorate it.
  • Sugar + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3.3 Tablespoons (50 ml) cherry brandy (Original German Kirsch Wasser) *** I substituted Kirsch Wasser with 1 small jar of “Tipsy Cherries
  • 5.2 oz (150 g) semi-sweet chocolate (refrigerated)

Also needed: 25 cm (10 inch) round spring form cake pan + same size parchment paper

Cake preparation:

  1. Heat the oven to 370 F (187 C)
  2. For the cake beat egg yolks, 1 whole egg, sugar and water until foamy.
  3. Add bread crumbs and ground almonds.
  4. Now by hand gently fold in egg whites. Add sifted cocoa at the end.
  5. Pour the batter into the spring form pan and bake for about 25 – 30 minutes.
  6. Cool completely and slice horizontally into 3 equal layers.

Filling preparation:

  1. Heat the sour cherries with juice in a small cooking pot and bring it to boil. Mix 1 tablespoon corn starch with some of the cherry juice and pour into the pot. Let it boil for a few minutes until it thickens. Cool completely.
  2. Whip the heavy cream until firm. Add sugar (after your own taste) and vanilla extract.
  3. Take the bottom cake layer, sprinkle it with some “Tipsy cherries” brandy (or Kirsch Wasser), spread the cherries on the top of it. Spread 1/3 of the whipped cream on it.
  4. Place the second cake layer on the cream, sprinkle with cherry brandy and spread with the second part of the whipped cream.
  5. Sprinkle the third cake layer with some cherry brandy and place it on the top.
  6. Frost the whole cake all around, decorate the top with tipsy cherries and chopped chocolate pieces.
Place the cake in the fridge over night and serve the next day.

Bon Appétit!


Pretzels – Remembering southern Germany

At the beginning of the 90’s when there was a war going on in Bosnia, we spent about six years in south-western Germany. That time was kind of a bitter-sweet time for us. Bitter, as we were adjusting to the completely new life, new language, new country, new people, and we worried about the loved ones that were still in Bosnia. Sweet, because we got married and had our babies, and we have learned a lot about life and to always look forward no matter what the circumstances are.

Well, how do the pretzels tie into this whole story? Simply, every time I see them, a wave of memories splashes over me and brings back the pictures of the beautiful German towns, walks and bike rides along the Rhein river and Fairytale-like Black Forest villages and small bakeries filled with the best bread and pretzels in the World.

The preztels have somewhat crispy crust and are soft inside. In southern Germany, they are called Laugenbrezeln because of the specific way they are made. Before baking they are dipped in a NaOH solution, which is neutralized during baking and gives the pretzels their distinctive taste.  When made at home they are dipped in solution of baking soda and they taste fantastic (maybe not 100% as the German original, but 90% for sure).

Ingredients:                                  Printable recipe

  • 3 ¾ cup (500 g) bread flour (used King Arthur)
  • 1.5 oz (42 g) fresh yeast***
  •  ½ TSP salt
  • 3 ½ TBSP (50 g) butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) warm milk
  • 3 quarts (3 liter) boiling water
  • 5 tbsp baking soda

Preparation:

  1. Sift the flour mixed with salt into a bowl and make a small hole in the middle. Thinly slice butter and place around the hole.
  2. Dissolve the fresh yeast in the warm milk and start pouring into the flour, mixing at the same time.
  3. Knead the dough by hand for at least 5 minutes. Dough will be quite firm and smooth and not sticky at all. Form a dough ball and let it rest covered for about 30 minutes.
  4. Place the dough on a work surface and cut into 10 equal pieces. Form the pretzels or rolls.
  5. Butter the baking pan. (Do not use parchment paper!)
  6. Boil the water and add the baking soda. Adding soda to the boiling water will make quite a reaction, so be careful!!! Let the water simmer and place each pretzel in the solution for about 30 seconds.
  7. Take out pretzels with a skimmer spoon and place them onto a well buttered baking pan.
  8. With a sharp knife or a razor cut the small slit on a top of each pretzel or a small cross on each roll. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
  9. Bake at 395 F (200 C) until golden brown.

Bavarian pretzels are usually served sliced horizontally and spread with butter.

*** Fresh yeast can be substituted with the dry yeast (use 1 and ¾ TSP). Mix the yeast with flour and salt, then add butter and warm milk and make the dough.