swetschkuchen - german plum cake

It's been a drizzly old start to autumn in Sydney - perfect weather for baking. Last weekend when I was home in Brisbane, I noticed some lovely looking plums lurking in the fruit bowl. I hunted through some recipe books before finding this recipe for swetschkuchen in Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food. I've never made a swetschkuchen or zwetschgenkuchen before, but I like anything with plums, so I thought I'd give it a try. As there were only a few of us at home, I halved the recipe and made 6 individual cakes rather than 1 large one.

The cakes took no time to make in the food processor but I did strike a few issues with my mini versions.

The cakes were completely cooked after 20 minutes, long before the plums were ready. After 10 minutes, I lowered the oven temperature to 325°F/170°C and covered the cakes with baking paper to stop them burning. In the end it took about 40 minutes for the plums to cook through. If I were to make mini-German plum cakes again, I'd thinly slice and sugar the plums first to speed up the cooking process.

Here's the original Claudia Roden recipe for you.

German Plum Cake (Swetschkuchen)
125g (4½ oz) caster sugar 
175g (6 oz) self-raising flour (or plain flour with 1/2 tsp baking powder)
75g (3 oz) cold unsalted butter 
1 small egg, lightly beaten 
1 tbs cognac 
750g (1½ lb) plums, pitted and cut in half 
Icing sugar 

Mix half the sugar with the flour. Cut the cold butter into pieces and rub into the flour and sugar mix. Mix in the beaten egg (you may not need to use all the egg) and the cognac and work very briefly with your hand - just enough to mix it together - adding a little flour if it's too sticky. Take lumps of pastry and press into a 25cm/10 inch baking tray or tart pan. 

Arrange the fruit, tightly packed, cut side up on top of the pastry and sprinkle the remaining sugar on the plums. Bake in a preheated 375°F/190°C oven for 50 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the plums are very soft. The sugar draws out the plum juices, which run into the pastry and makes it rise up between the plums so that these are embedded in the light pastry. Serve hot or cold sprinkled with icing sugar.

My family don't have a sweet tooth, so I tried to reduce the sugar in the recipe. Don't! The plums I used were mouth puckeringly tart so I had to add a little extra sugar to the cooked tarts to ensure they were edible. Once I did that, I enjoyed my little plum tart with a nice cup of tea.  I'm thinking it's probably time to make some tangy plum jam before the plum season ends even if I'm a Vegemite on toast girl.

I hope you enjoyed your weekends. See you all again next week,


P.S My recipe for blood orange tea cakes on decor8 can be found here if you're looking for more inspiration.


  1. Hello Jillian
    They look delicious and so cute, I really love sweets in small size. Unfortunately we do not have plum season. It's sonwing today. ;-(

  2. Hi Evelyn,

    I use frozen berries all the time and I think they'd work beautifully here until plum season comes around in Switzerland.


  3. Our plum season is short...but when it's here, I make a plum tart. A tradition in the family. My dad's favorite! They are tart so you do need sugar, but the nice thing is that they are not too sweet when finished. I have not tried this recipe, but it looks great and I will definitely be trying it in Sept-Oct when they are available!

  4. Hi Janet,

    lovely to hear from you. I make a mean plum cake which is really popular. Actually if you do a search for 'plum' on my blog, there's no shortage of plum recipes in the archives.

    Here's the link to the recipe for the plum cake
    and it's just as nice without the crumble topping. Just double the quantity if you want to make a 9 inch cake.

  5. Anonymous11:34 pm

    I made something similar, but it was a full cake. I was skeptical, I don't looove plums, but the sweetness of the cake and the tart of the plum... OMG,.... I love these flavors together. I will defiantly make these. Love the photo's, as always

  6. Thanks muchly. I suddenly have a hankering to make plum crumble but it's going to be 27C today so not quite the right weather!


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