Category: dessert

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

Perfect Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting

I adore this recipe.

When I went vegan a little over five years ago, I had a minor panic attack when I realized I’d never eat another Cinnabon again. I remember I used to ask my dad to bring them home from the airport for me when I was little, whenever he had a business trip. The fluffy swirls of dough, the sugary syrup, the cream cheese frosting… I needed to recreate them perfectly, vegan style. And let me tell you, these are a dead ringer for our mall and airport favorites.

Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese FrostingBut it comes at a price. If you’re looking for a healthy, low-fat, calorie conscious treat, I can’t help you today. If you’re looking for a recipe that is guaranteed to win over any vegan doubter, guaranteed to please any Cinnabon lover, guaranteed to send any child into a permanent sugar high; these buns are for you.

There is a lot of sugar and Earth Balance margarine in these. But hey, the recipe makes a ton of rolls, and it takes four hours to make, so they’re really special occasion buns. Embrace the cups (and cups) of sugar and fat, and you will definitely be rewarded with the most perfect cinnamon bun you’ve ever had. Isn’t it worth it, at least once?

I think so.

For those of you who haven’t yet overcome your apprehension about yeast breads, I encourage you to give these a try. I’ve included tons of photos and a video to clarify the process and give you an idea how the dough is supposed to look at every step. They might seem intimidating, but they’re easier than you think!

I think these would be an amazing way to wake up Mom on Sunday, paired with a nice hot cup of coffee. You can make these ahead of time, refrigerating over night before the second rise and popping them in the oven in the morning, or you can freeze them for later. More info on that at the end of the recipe.

Perfect Cinnamon Buns
Makes 12 Large Buns

Yeast Mixture
4 tsp Active Dry Yeast (a little less than 2 packets)
1 tsp Sugar
1 Cup Water, 110º F

1 Cup Soymilk
2/3 Cup Sugar
2/3 Cup Earth Balance Margarine
2 tsp Salt
2 Ener-g Egg Replacer Eggs, prepared, optional
Yeast Mixture, from above
6 Cups All Purpose Flour, more for kneading

Dough Filling
1/2 Cup Earth Balance Margarine, melted
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
3 Tbs Cinnamon

Pan Sauce
1/2 Cup Earth Balance Margarine, melted
1/3 Cup Sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 Cup Earth Balance
1/3 Cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Powdered Sugar

Combine yeast mixture and set aside to proof.

From the dough ingredients, combine the soymilk, sugar, earth balance, salt, and ener-g eggs in a small sauce pan. Heat until earth balance is melted and all the ingredients are well combined, but do not let the mixture get too hot. You should be able to put a finger in it without burning yourself.

The yeast should now be nice and foamy (proofed). Combine it with the warmed liquid you just made; make sure it’s not too hot, or you will kill your yeast.

Proofed Yeast and Liquid Ingredients

Place 4 cups of all purpose flour in a large bowl. Add the warmed wet ingredients.

Mixing the Dough

Beat the batter well with a wooden spoon. The dough will be very wet and liquid, much more like a batter than a dough.

Mixing the Dough

Add 2 more cups of flour and mix in partially. It’ll look like a wreck. That’s fine! Turn out the dough onto a large table/kneading surface, scraping out everything in the bowl.


Begin kneading, gently at first. It’s going to take about 8 minutes to get the dough where it needs to be. Add more flour only if the dough starts sticking to the table and there is no more dry flour to be worked into the dough. You want the dough to end up smooth and elastic, and slightly tacky, but not sticky. You should be able to knead it on a bare table without it sticking.

Here is a video of the kneading and cutting process, so you can see the stages the dough goes through.

Cinnamon Buns

Once the dough is ready, place it in an oiled bowl, covered with oiled plastic wrap, to rise for 90 minutes in a warm spot. If you’re lacking a warm spot, turn your oven on low for 1 minute, then turn it off and place the dough in the oven to rise with the door closed. Remember to turn the oven off after one minute, and remember the dough is in there — no preheating for other things! (I’ve made that mistake more than once, it’s never good.)

Once the dough has risen completely, it’ll leave a little dent when you poke it. If it springs back, it needs more time.

Risen Dough

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and press it down (this is part is in the video above). You want it press or roll it out into a 15 x 20 inch rectangle. You can use a roller if you want, but it’s not necessary.

Pour the 1/2 cup of melted earth balance on the dough. Brush it so the dough is covered completely. It’s okay if it pools in some locations.

Mix together the cinnamon and sugar from the dough filling above. Sprinkle it evenly over the dough.

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

Prepare a large baking dish, like a lasagna dish, by pouring in the melted earth balance from the pan sauce ingredients above. Brush the sides of the pan so they are greased.

Melted Earth Balance

Add the sugar, spreading evenly over the bottom of pan. The pan is now ready for the buns.

The following steps are shown in detail in the video above: Roll the dough up gently, starting from one of the short sides. Let it rest on the seem once it’s rolled up completely. Cut 12 rolls with dental floss or sewing thread. Place the rolls in the pan. (Ignore the fact that they are practically floating in earth balance and sugar.)

Cinnamon Buns, pre-baked

Cover the buns and let rise for 45 minutes if you will be baking these immediately. If baking the next day, cover the buns and let rise in the refrigerator overnight. Bake in the morning with no need for more rising. If making the buns for a date in the future, cover the buns and freeze immediately. The day before you are ready to use them, defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then let warm up on the counter the next morning for an hour. In any case, when ready to bake, follow the directions below.

Preheat the oven to 350º F, remembering to remove the rising buns if they are in there!

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes.

Cinnamon Buns, baked

Stir together the frosting ingredients. It takes a bit of elbow grease to mix it together, but resist the urge to add liquid. It will come together, I promise. Whisk until there are no lumps.

Serve the buns warm with frosting. I like to microwave completely cooled buns for 45-60 seconds before eating.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting