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


  1. Chris

    Fruit and cake… oh. my mouth is watering. Too bad I’m living in an inferno at the moment. I’ll save this one for the end of the heat wave.

  2. Samuel

    Did you just achieve a way of conveying the joys of sex through pictures? Jesus, that thing looks absolutely amazing.

    Thanks for all your hard work, you do great stuff. I’ll be buying your book soon enough.

  3. manu

    hmm, i think i might use damsons for this recipe. they are not bitter (at least the ones i know from germany) and they bake nicely. pretty pretty pictures – thank you so much for the veganized version of this recipe!

  4. Lauren Zembron

    This looks absolutely delicious. What a perfect summertime treat!

    Believe it or not, I haven’t made it to the Copley Farmer’s Market yet this summer (I live in Kenmore Square, so it’s not far at all). I MUST get there sometime soon!

  5. Andrea

    These are killer photos. It’s almost enough to make me use the peaches we have sitting on the counter. If only I had time right now… Maybe next month with blackberries!

  6. Sat

    This looks delicious. You might want to try pluots instead of plums since they have all the sweetness of the plum flesh but without the bitterness of the skin.

  7. Mary

    Those are some mighty petite plums you had there. This sounds great. We don’t have plums at our farmers’ market yet, but I’d love to try this with cherries.

  8. Paige

    I saw this in a friend’s copy of Gourmet! It looked so good, but I didn’t want to put forth the energy experimenting to veganize it. Thanks! Now I’ll be sure to make it.

  9. tara

    I had some peaches in the house the other day, and I had been thinking of substituting them into this recipe! I had ended up going in a different direction, but so happy to see someone else try it. I’ll be making this soon.

  10. tess

    Hi! This is exactly what I’m in the mood to eat & bake! Do you have any tips for getting this started the night before, to eat for breakfast? Could you do both rises so it’s ready to stick in the oven in the morning, or just the first? Thanks!

    If it was me, I’d do the first rise and then place it in the fridge overnight for a slow second rise. Take it out in the morning and let it sit out for 30 minutes to get the chill off, the bake! I haven’t tested that method with this particular recipe, but it should work. Just make sure you don’t overproof it, or it might deflate!

  11. Marisa

    Mmm…Pflaumkuchen! Been looking for a vegan version of a German family favorite…and I just happen to have all these plums from my CSA! Please keep the German recipes coming…

  12. Raisa

    Wow – I am so glad to this was posted just in time for when I wanted to make a plum kuchen for my schwester as a housewarming cake.

    I will try it this weekend!

    Thank you!

    PS I also appreciate veganized German recipes!

  13. Nicole

    Beautiful photographs! I must admit, I probably won’t make this anytime soon because of the time it takes for yeast to rise (thanks for the link to the crumb cake recipe instead), but I did enjoy dreaming about the day I’ll finally get to try it.

  14. Maka

    Beautiful cake! I am wondering, I have a fig tree that is going to give a lot of fruit very soon. Do you think these will work? Also, I want to can and freeze these, have you ever done this?

  15. Carolyn Blakeney

    My Mom and Granny used to make kuchens, they were the best, but they usually used peaches (I think they did yeast doughs). Are these plums too small to blanch, so you could slip off the skins? I’ve never blanched plums so don’t know if it would work. But they are so beautiful it would be worth having a little bitter with the sweet!

  16. Rusty M.

    Just got my copy of Vegetarian Times and I just don’t know which doughnut to make first!! You are the bomb! Can’t wait to get a copy of your cookbook. Keep up the great work.

  17. Aurica

    I’m from Germany and I love Pflaumenkuchen. :)
    I never made an upside-down cake, so I’ll give this one a try.

  18. JeriPhi

    Not sure if you’ve mentioned this in previous recipes or not; but you may think about clarifying that if someone really wants to do a vegan sweet, that the majority of white sugars are NOT vegan. They use bone char to make sugar white. So just using a regular ol’ store bought white granulated sugar is not animal-friendly.

    Do you know if this recipe works well with turbinado sugar? How about beet sugar?

  19. Jaclyn

    thanks for the recipe! this look delicious and the pictures are just gorgeous. i have never made a coffee cake… but I might have to try this one.

  20. Ashley

    This cake sounds really awesome, though as much as I love plums I don’t think I’d like the bitterness of the skins intensified when baked. I’ll definitely have to try it since you said it’s your favourite coffee cake ever!

  21. Eileen

    I made it, it was great! I peeled some of the skins off the plums and left some on for color. It didn’t turn out bitter at all, but I still got a nice sweet/sour flavor. I love the soft inside and crusty outside. Thanks!

  22. Jeanee

    I just found your site. I LOVE IT!!!

    My husband and I are veggies and your recipes look awesome! Your photos are breathtaking.

    Good luck on your book! I admire you quitting your job and doing what you love full time.

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