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German Plum Cake is a juicy coffee cake made with a simple batter, fresh plums, and a sweet, crumbly streusel topping! So easy to make from scratch.

A plum cake with streusel on a springform bottom on a white plate. A cake server is lifting out a slice.

Traditional German Plum Cake, Zwetschgenkuchen or Pflaumenkuchen in German, is made with fresh, juicy plums and is so simple to make, just like our German Apple Cake. This cake is very juicy and tastes delicious for dessert or brunch topped it with homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

There are many different versions of plum cake in Germany, some are made with yeast dough (Zwetschgendatschi) and baked on a “Backblech” (baking sheet) but this “Rührteig” based recipe is very popular because it is easier and quicker to make. In Germany, this kind of cake is often served in the afternoon for “Kaffee und Kuchen” (Coffee and Cake time).

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Works with plums and other stone fruit like peaches or apricots
  • A great way to use seasonal produce
  • Simple recipe made with pantry ingredients
  • Perfect to make in advance, cake even better on the next day

Ingredient Notes

Here is an overview of the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe. Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom for quantities.

  • Plums – You need fresh plums for this recipe. Any kind will work but European plums like Italian prune plums or Empress plums (Zwetschgen) are traditionally used in Germany.
  • Flour – All-purpose flour works best, you can also use cake flour if you have it on hand.
  • Vanilla Extract – I use lemon extract but in Germany, you would use vanilla sugar instead.
  • Lemon zest – Fresh lemon zest adds lots of flavor and freshness to the cake but you can leave it out if you don’t have any lemons on hand.
  • Butter – I use unsalted butter in all my baking recipes. (Did you know that salted butter is not a thing in Germany?) Make sure the butter is at room temperature for both the cake batter and the streusel topping.
  • Eggs – The eggs need to be at room temperature for the best results otherwise they cool down the butter. Putting the eggs in a bowl with hot water for a few minutes works well!

How to make this recipe 

Detailed measurements and instructions can be found at the bottom of the page on the printable recipe card.

Steps for making German Plum Cake from scratch.
  1. Make the cake batter: Combine flour and baking powder, then add sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest, butter, and eggs to the bowl and beat until smooth. Spread the batter evenly into the greased springform pan.
  2. Prep the Plums: Pit and quarter the plums. If you use larger plums slice them into eighth. Gently place the plums in a concentric pattern on top of the batter, slightly overlapping each other.
  3. Make the Streusel: Combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add soft butter and beat until everything is combined and your crumbs have a coarse and crumbly texture.
  4. Bake: Sprinkle the streusel evenly on top of the plums. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the top of the cake is lightly golden. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
A slice of plum cake topped with streusel on a white plate with a fork and a halved plum. The whole cake is in the background.

Expert Tips

  • Traditionally this cake is made with prune plums. They are also often called Empress plums, Italian Prune Plums, or “Zwetschgen” in German. But any other type of plum works too!
  • You could also use any other stone fruit for this recipe. Peaches, apricots, or nectarines are all a great choice just make sure to not overload the cake with juicy fruit otherwise it might not bake all the way through.
  • A springform works best for this recipe. It makes it easier to get the cake out of the pan and is also great for storing the cake.
  • You can double this recipe and bake it in a 9×13-inch cake pan. The cake will need a few more minutes to bake so keep an eye on it and test it with a skewer before taking it out of the oven.
  • When making the streusel make sure to beat until coarse crumbs form and all the flour has been incorporated. You don’t want tiny, floury crumbs but big crumbs!
  • Every oven is different so the baking time can vary by a few minutes! Extra juicy fruit will also influence the cooking time.
Top-down shot of a plum cake with streusel on a springform bottom on a white plate. A cake server is lifting out a slice. Next to the plate, there are plums, a knife, two white plates with forks and a white dishtowel with a red stripe.

Recipe FAQs

What plums are best for Plum Cake?

You can use any type of plum for this recipe but smaller, more tart plums work best. My first choice are Italian Prune Plums or Damsons plums but any kind of plum works. They shouldn’t be overly ripe and depending on the size you need to slice them into eighths or quarters.

What are Italian Prune Plums?

Italian Prune Plums are also called Empress Plums. These European-style plums are small, dense, and egg-shaped with blue or purple skin, and yellow flesh. Their pits separate easily from the flesh. These plums are perfect for baking and hit the markets at the end of August.

How do you remove the pit from a plum?

The pits are easy to remove. Cut the plum along the seam that runs from top to bottom. Flip the plum open, remove the pit, and cut the plum into quarters.

Looking for more German Cake Recipes?

A plum cake with streusel on a springform bottom on a white plate. A cake server is lifting out a slice.

What to serve with German Plum Cake

This cake as well as many cakes made with fruit, like my German Apple Cake or German Strawberry Cake, tastes even better with whipped cream on top. Making homemade whipped cream is so much easier than you think, you’ll never buy the canned stuff again!

A scoop of canilla ice cream goes also very well with this cake, especially if it is still a bit warm! So delicious!

Leftovers

This cake keeps well for a few days at room temperature. It will get moister with time so it is perfect to make in advance.

Freezing

This cake can be frozen but the streusel topping might not be as crispy after defrosting the cake.

More German recipes to try

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4.91 from 102 votes

German Plum Cake

German Plum Cake is a juicy coffee cake made with a simple batter, fresh plums, and a sweet, crumbly streusel topping! So easy to make from scratch.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients 

  • 1.5 lbs plums, pitted and quartered

For the cake batter:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or vanilla sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest, freshly grated (optional)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

For the streusel:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

Instructions 

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray with cooking spray or lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine flour and baking powder. Add sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest, butter, and eggs to the bowl and beat on low speed until combined then increase speed to medium-high and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • Spread the batter evenly into the cake pan. Gently place the plums in a concentric pattern on top of the batter, slightly overlapping each other (see picture).
  • Make the streusel: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add soft butter and beat until everything is combined and your crumbs have a coarse and crumbly texture about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Using your hands sprinkle the streusel evenly on top of the plums.
  • Bake for about 50 minutes or until the top of the cake is lightly golden. Test with a skewer for doneness. Let the cake sit in the pan for about 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the outer ring of the springform. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Video

Notes

  • Traditionally this cake is made with Italian Prune Plums. They are also often called Empress plums, prune plums, or “Zwetschgen” in German. But any other kind of plum work too!
  • You could also use any other stone fruit for this recipe. Peaches, apricots, or nectarines are all a great choice just make sure to not overload the cake with juicy fruit otherwise it might not bake all the way through.
  • A springform works best for this recipe. It makes it easier to get the cake out of the pan and is also great for storing the cake.
  • You can double this recipe and bake it in a 9×13-inch cake pan. The cake will need a few more minutes to bake so keep an eye on it and test it with a skewer before taking it out of the oven.
  • When making the streusel make sure to beat until coarse crumbs form and all the flour has been incorporated. You don’t want tiny, floury crumbs but big crumbs!
  • Every oven is different so the baking time can vary by a few minutes! Extra juicy fruit will also influence the cooking time.

Nutrition

Calories: 330kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 80mg | Potassium: 163mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 710IU | Vitamin C: 5.5mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1.2mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

This post was originally published in 2016.

About Julia Foerster

Hi, I'm Julia! Born in Germany, I call Canada now my home and love to share my favorite dishes with you! Here you'll find hundreds of recipes, all made from scratch, with lots of tips and detailed step-by-step instructions.

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4.91 from 102 votes (51 ratings without comment)

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101 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this for a family dinner and everyone agreed that this was one of the best fruit desserts they’d had. The cake was perfectly moist, the plums (I used Italian prune plums) were sweet and soft, and the streusel on top added a lovely bit of crunch. I’ll definitely be adding this one to my roster.

  2. 5 stars
    This cake is now a permanent staple in my recipe collection. Eat it for afternoon kaffee und kuchen, dessert, brunch…so versatile. I‘ve made it a half dozen times and memorized it.

    It has worked with every fruit I‘ve tried: ordinary American plums, sliced peaches, sliced apples, chunky peach and blackberries, Danson plums. I used almond extract instead of vanilla for the peach and blackberry. I don’t measure/weigh any of them; just cut them up and put a layer on the cake base. Used part raw sugar in the streusel one time just for grins. The only one I wasn‘t super excited about was sliced peaches because I sliced them too thinly and my fruit layer was too thing;I didn‘t get strong peach flavor. The small chunks in my peach/blackberry version were perfect. Some fruits maintain their structure, others turn into a sort of jammy layer. It‘s all delicious.

    1. You recently updated your review so I’m hoping you can help – I only have 6 regular plums is that enough for a full recipe? I do have some apples I could add or I could make 1/2 batch in smaller pan
      What do you think? Hoping to make this in about 15 ish hours lol (Oct 28 abt 11m est)

  3. 5 stars
    This cake was delicious! Easy to make and everyone enjoyed it. I didn’t change a thing and we ate it without any toppings, superb! Thank you

  4. 5 stars
    I made this cake twice in the last week. First with Zwetschgen (called Italian prunes where I live) and yesterday with regular red plums for a large family gathering. Everyone (!!!) loved the cake. It’s super easy to make, turns out moist and flavorful yet the streusel topping stays crunchy—superb! Don’t forget the dollop of Schlagsahne (whipped cream). Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. (I grew up in northern Germany and the cake tastes just like I remember it.)

  5. 5 stars
    Love this cake! We live in Germany and I think this is better than most plum cakes at the German bakeries!

  6. 4 stars
    I made this recipe but because I’m vegan, I used vegan margarine. You could also use Miyokos vegan butter but it is a little pricey. Instead of eggs, I used half of a ripe, mashed banana and a quarter cup of applesauce. Using these ingredients, instead is all so much better for the environment as animal agriculture is a huge contributor of greenhouse, gas emissions. Another win, no cholesterol.

  7. 5 stars
    This was delicious. I added a bit of lemon zest to the streusel and the plum layers, too. And I added pinches of salt here and there. My plums were not very sweet so I coated them in a little bit of warm fig jam. Devoured. Thank you for sharing!

  8. I made this last week
    My mother was German Whenever we visited her family we were served the most incredible dense cakes or torte’s. The taste of this took me back to Germany sitting around the table with my relatives enjoying coffee and cake time
    I actually used some tart cherries instead of plums as that’s what I had an abundance of right then. Although plums would be my first choice
    This cake is easy and simply delicious. Especially with coffee or tea. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.
    I will make this again and again and again

  9. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious. I used some lightly stewed plums because I had made them the previous night before I had found a pie recipie. I did thicken that a little with cornflour. It was so moreish. Can see it being delightful with cherries or rhubarb being stewed also.