Breakfast cake Desserts

German Plum Cake (Zwetschgenkuchen)

This authentic German Plum Cake recipe, known as Zwetschgenkuchen or Zwetschgendatschi, is made just the way you know and love it from Germany!  A yeast-based cake with juicy plums and a sweet streusel topping, this extraordinarily delicious cake is one of my very favorites and is the way my Mutti and Oma made it!

Depending on which region of Germany you’re in, German plum cake goes by a variety of names including Zwetschgenkuchen, Zwetschgendatschi, Quetschekuche or Pflaumenkuchen.  I know, they’re all tongue-twisters! 🙂

Variations exist throughout the regions of Germany with some versions using a yeast dough while others use a shortcrust pastry known as Rührteig.  Some have a streusel topping while others omit it.  And some people make them round and taller while others make them rectangular in the style known as “Blechkuchen” (sheet pan cake).  But whichever pastry crust is used, with or without streusel, and whether it’s round or rectangular, all of these versions showcase the plump, juicy, sweet European plums known as Italian plums.

Which Plums Do I Need to Make German Plum Cake?

To make proper German plum cake you really need Italian plums.  These are small and oval-shaped and are far meatier than their Asian plum cousins.  Fleshier with a lower moisture content is important because you want to have a moist cake, not a mushy cake.  Italian plums are considered the most ideal for cooking and baking not only because of their texture but also because their flavor becomes more complex and delicious through cooking.  Italian plum season is short, usually from September through early October, and Germans know how to seize the opportunity when it’s there.  So wait patiently for plum season and then hit your local farmer’s markets for some Italian plums.  Alternatively you can also use frozen Italian plums; just be sure to thaw and very thoroughly drain them before using them.

We were so lucky to have our own Italian plum trees when we lived in Washington State.  When we moved to Virginia a few years ago we immediately got to work planting an orchard of fruit trees, including some Italian plums.  They’re not yielding a lot of fruit yet, but they’re getting there and I’ll be ready for them!

Can I Use Other Fruits?

You sure can!  This recipe is also delicious using other stone fruits like apricots, peaches and nectarines.

Can You Freeze German Plum Cake?

Yes, you can.  I generally recommend eating it within a couple of days but if you have more leftovers than you can manage, this can be wrapped and put in a freezer container for up to a month.  Let it thaw in the fridge overnight


  • 3 + pounds Italian plums ,cut into quarters, pits removed
  • 1 cup warm milk , *start with 3/4 and add extra to the dough as needed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup melted but not hot)
  • 2 eggs

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