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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 101 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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100 Comments

  1. Made this recipe yesterday and the whole family loved. It came out super moist and delicious. Very easy to make too.!!

  2. 5 stars
    I have German grandparents and this really took me home! So simple, so delicious… Will DEFINITELY make again. Thank you Julia

  3. 5 stars
    Hi!
    Thanks for the recipe. It was delicious! My colleague gave me 4 kg of satsuma plums and suggested this recipe. Worth the effort of making it.

  4. Can I prep it then bake it next day? Or would you suggest baking it immediately and then maybe reheating next day?

    1. You should bake it immediately. It’s a perfect cake to make it advance because it will taste even better on the next day. No need to reheat it.

  5. 4 stars
    Looks great!! I have a question that I need the answer to overnight so if anyone reading this knows plz post asap lol
    I have 6 regular plums which equal about 1.5 lbs whole. Is the amount in this recipe AFTER putting/slicing? If so I’ll just make a 1/2 version in a smaller pan
    Thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    Easy and delicious. I use more cinnamon than called for because I like it. My most recent iteration of this recipe used a layer of lemon curd and then a layer of thinly sliced pears. Also delicious!

      1. I think she meant she prepped the batter, layered the plums, and topped it with streusel—then froze it whole. Now wants to bake it—or should she thaw it first?

  7. 5 stars
    This was great. A lot of German cake recipes I’ve looked at seem so involved that I have never tried them (I’m looking at you, bee sting cake). This was easy and really good too. The middle of mine tested done at 53 min but turned out not to be done. That’s ok, I know to wait longer next time. Definitely a keeper recipe. I’m looking for easy baking recipes to go with my German class and this is a great candidate.

  8. 4 stars
    My friend was overloaded with plums from her tree and told me to take some. I did, though they aren’t my favorite. So I was looking for a dessert I could make with them. It looks yummy and was fun and easy to make! I hope it tastes good too. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. 5 stars
      Update: Just as delicious as it looked!! Reminds me of a cobbler. My kids and hubby all loved it too (well the 4 year old left the plums behind😂).

  9. 5 stars
    Hi, I love German Plum Cake, very pricey at my local bakery, so I decided to make it myself. Chose your recipe from the internet google search. VERY PLEASED I HAPPENED ON YOUR RECIPE. My husband who is not a fan of plums absolutely loved it! Thank you! It’s a winner and will add it to my cookbook.
    Barbara