Plum Kuchen

Plum Kuchen

Kuchen means cake in German. There are as many different kinds of kuchen as there are kinds of cake.

I saw this recipe for upside-down plum kuchen in the latest issue of Gourmet Magazine, and I just had veganize it. I’m glad I did, because the cake base of this kuchen might now be my favorite coffee cake base ever. It’s light and fluffy, and like my Slow Rise Pancakes, it uses yeast instead of baking powder or baking soda for leavening. I really love the clean, rich flavor of yeast-raised goods, so when I looked at this particular recipe I knew I had to make an animal-friendly version.

They used plums in the Gourmet version, so when I found tiny, sweet organic plums at the Copley Farmers Market here in Boston, it was kismet. However, I’m not sure I’d recommend you use plums in yours.

Organic Plums

Here’s the thing. The plums themselves are very sweet, but I noticed a mild bitterness in the skins, even when I ate them fresh. After baking, the bitterness intensified. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s similar to the bitterness of marmalade. If you really love the combination of sweet and bitter in a fruit, then go for the plums. If you’re not sure, choose another stone fruit; peaches or cherries would be completely divine in this. On second thought, I think nearly any bake-able fruit would be great.

Because this is a yeast-risen cake, it does take a while. Two hours for the first rise and ninety minutes for the second rise means this isn’t a fast dessert. If you’re looking for a quick coffee cake, try this crumb cake instead. But the flavor and texture of this kuchen really make all the time worthwhile.

Plum Kuchen (adapted from Gourmet Magazine, Aug 2009)
Makes One 9×9 Cake

1 Packet Active-Dry Yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1/4 Cup Warm Water (105-110º F)
2 Cups plus 2 Tbs All-Purpose Flour, divided
1 Cup Sugar, divided
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup plus 1 Tbs Tofutti Sour Cream (or plain vegan yogurt)
2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer Powder mixed with 3 Tbs Hot Water
1 1/2 tsp Fresh Lemon Zest
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs Earth Balance Margarine, divided
3/4 lbs Firm-Ripe Plums or other Stone Fruit, halved and pitted

Combine the yeast with the warm water and set aside to proof until foamy.

In a mixing bowl (one that fits in a stand mixer, if you have one), combine the yeast with 2 cups flour, 2/3 cup sugar, salt, sour cream, egg replacer, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.

Lemon Zest

Beat at low speed to combine the ingredients, then mix at medium speed for 5 minutes while adding in 1/2 cup of Earth Balance, one tablespoon at a time. Beat the batter for five minutes at medium speed until smooth and shiny, and very sticky.


After five minutes, remove the bowl from the mixer and top with the remaining 2 Tbs of flour. Do not mix it in. Cover the bowl with a non-terry cloth kitchen towel and set aside to rise for 90 minutes to 2 hours.

After the first rise, mix the the dough to combine the flour on the top.

With the remaining 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance, grease a 9×9 cake pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in the bottom of the pan.

Halve and pit the plums. It may be easier to cut around the pits, rather than to pull them out, if your fruit is very ripe.

Organic Plums

Slice the pitted plum halves into five or six slices. I left mine whole because they were very small. Place cut-side down into the sugar, covering the bottom of the pan.

Plum Kuchen, plums

Pour the dough over the plums and let raise for another 90 minutes, covered with oiled plastic wrap.

Plum Kuchen, batter

Preheat oven to 375º F.

Bake the kuchen for 35 minutes, until evenly golden and slightly cracked.

Plum Kuchen

Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Loosen edges with a knife and turn out onto a rack to cool completely before serving.

Plum Kuchen


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  2. BethanyA

    I used victoria plums (they might be called something different in America) and skinned them, HMMM

  3. walti

    Back from my vacation I am catching up on your yummy yummy recipes! Thanks for you “Zwetschgen-Datschi” that’s the Bavarian synonym for plum kuchen ;-)). We’ll have it next Sutarday!

  4. darlene foss

    I used petite fresh plums, with the skins on, and my husband and I were unable to eat the plum crisp which I baked. The bitterness from the skins was unbelievably unpalatable! It looked and smelled so good. What a shame it was to have tossed it away.I Will try the blanching method and let you know what the outcome is. Your site is wonderful! I found it with my Yahoo search engine,questioning, why oh why did this happen to our plums!!! lol

  5. Megan Gordon

    Wow! I just discovered your blog–apparently I’ve been living under a rock. It’s stunning. Beautiful photos, wonderful recipes. I lived in Boston, too–so nice to read about a Boston vegan taking over the world! Rock on.

  6. Raisa Jari

    I made this kuchen on the weekend and loved it! I used the small blue plums cut in half and they tasted amazing – not bitter at all. I also used blended silken tofu with a little lemon juice instead of a packaged sour cream or yogurt which I don’t buy.

  7. Katharina

    The word kuchen definitely got me to look at this recipe! German cakes are the BEST! They let the flavors shine through and just sugar. Your end result looks delicious and beautiful.

  8. Sherri

    I’m part German and growing up, this was a family favorite. I just recently crossed over to the dark side (went vegan). I cannot wait to try this out. Thank you so much for this recipe. I know I will love it! Oh and one more thing: Kudos to you on your book; in my opinion, it is the best vegan cookbook I have seen.

  9. Edie

    Hi there- what a wonderful site! I just made this tonight for tomorrow’s breakfast!

    @36- I used turbinado and demara sugar in the recipe; you can also use maple syrup. Select carefully the type of sugar, because you will get a richer, darker flavor. However that will go wonderfully with plums, apricots and cherries. I would not advise using agave syrup, however.

    Also, instead of Earth Balance shortening, I used coconut oil ( I grew up eating coconut oil) and that seemed fine. I also used saffron soaked in the water used to dissolve the yeast to give a festive color without eggs!

  10. Carol(Knit-Picky Vegan)

    Kuchen – Oh—I love kuchen!!, and you posted this recipe on my birthday…yeah, I know, I’m just a little slow on keeping up with vegan blogs of interest. I’ve always really enjoyed cake with actual fruit, the flavors and textures completely compliment each other. Your photos are incredible, too…the green tomatoes are blindingly green – tomatoes so bright I gotta wear shades!

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  14. yasmina

    Looks delicious!
    I can’t wait to try it out.
    Please check out my blog! It has creative ideas and vegan recipes.

    yasmina ( )

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  16. babyturtel

    I have baked the plumen kuchen,had a hard time waiting for the kuchen to cool.
    Tasted it–and I like it alot.
    Thank you for the recipy

  17. babyturtel

    sure wished there was a way to take a picture of my
    plumen kuchen.
    Thank you for letting me have fun to bake the kuchen.
    and eat it to

  18. Donna

    Thanks for the recipe. I also have a suggestion to eliminate the
    bitterness that you refer to from the plum skins… just blanche the plums before using them and remove the skins before adding them
    to the recipe. I would suggest doing the same for any fruit with a
    thin skin like that as well. IE: peaches, apples, pears, etc. Blanching
    gives a smoother texture to the fruit filling as well. :)

  19. Jutta

    Thanks for all the delish recipes. Just made the green fried tomatoes.
    I make Pflaumenkuchen, also Cherry, using the same recipe for both.
    Your upside-down version looks nice and easy.
    My version is right-side-up, namely: spread yeast dough into greased pan, layer w. “sour cream” mix, then pitted fruit, sprinkle w/sugar, and then –
    an extra, DELICIOUS touch (especially fitting w /the cherry version):
    Last layer is Streusels – mix vegan “butter” or margarine w/ sugar and enough flour to where you can tear off bits without it sticking to your fingers too much. Cover fruit with those streusels and the “piece de resistance” – drum roll-
    Intersperse streusels with bits of ALMOND PASTE ( which is a marzipan base ingredient, readily available most good stores).
    Bake ca. 35 – 40 min.

    Never met anyone didn’t love it.
    Since it is labor-intensive I make a pan of it at a time and freeze some for later. Works well.
    Btw, my home town is ULM, Germany :)

  20. Jutta

    Oops, make the last sentence “I make a BIG” pan of it at a time.

    Also, instead of using sour cream mixture, can use vegan vanilla pudding. You can make a vegan pudding ,the blancmange homemade version, by mixing
    1/2 c sugar
    2 Tbsp corn starch or similar
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 2/3 c rice milk

    Combine dry ingredients in microwaveable dish (I use 1 or 2 quart glass pan), stir in rice milk till smooth.
    Zap at High for 3 min.
    Stir. Zap for 3 more min, stirring after each minute.

    Blend in 2 Tbsp. margarine or vegan “butter”
    and 1 tsp vanilla.
    Let cool. So easy.
    I’m a pudding fan so I make this all the time. Chocolate version: Add 1 1/2 squares semi sweet chocolate OR 2 Tbsp cocoa to the dry ingredients, before adding milk.

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  22. Jenny

    You seriously rock. I saw this recipe in Gourmet magazine and thought it looked beautiful and wondered how I could adapt it to be vegan-friendly. You are awesome!

  23. Marilyn

    Plum kuchen is a staple in my German-heritage family. We use the European plums (e.g. Stanley, Italian or Damson varieties) which do not have bitter skins. The Japanese plums (e.g. Shiro) are not as good for baking.

    We’d use your sweet yeast bread as a base, then put the plums on top in neat rows, cut side down. Drizzle with melted margarine, and sprinkle with sugar. The sugar forms a delicious crust.

    Thanks for the recipe – I’ll try it “right side up” rather than “upside down” when I make it!

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