Tag Archives: dough

Zwetschgendatschi. German Plum Cake.

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Want to know what gets me really excited? Getting packages in the mail.

I have a thing for online shopping. That is, when I do shop. I don’t spend a lot of money but when I do get around to making purchases, I find it much more exciting to buy them online. It’s like getting a present in the mail! One might think that ordering items from the comfort of your home is a good way to over spend but I actually think it helps me spend less. The problem with shopping in person is that, for me at least, it tends to lead to impulse buys or buying something I don’t even want at all, mainly because of pressure from sales people or false advertising. No, none of that with online shopping. I get to spend hours and hours comparing prices, reading reviews, and looking for coupon codes. Some people like to call it a waste of time…but I like to call it smart shopping.

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Now, that leads me to a package I received in the mail yesterday. Oh how I was excited for this one. I had been waiting a good 6 months for these to go on sale. What are they? Dates! Like, the dates you eat. Those brown little shrivelled things that you find in your supermarket in clear plastic containers next to the produce aisle. Yeah, I know it’s weird that I was excited to order dates online. But these were fresh, just picked dates, soft, moist, and juicy. So it was really disappointing when I finally opened up my first date to take a bite out of it and found a long pale maggot squiggling it’s way out onto my hands. Yup. Maggot.

At first I was completely put off by the thought of eating even one date after that, let alone the full 8 pounds that I had bought. But I guess the fact that they’re organic made up for all the grossness of it. That’s the one thing about organic produce though, you never know what you’re going to get. As well, I think waiting 6 months for a fruit to come into season just to be put off by a little bug is a bit silly.

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Which now, finally, brings me to this lovely Zwetschgendatschi. Which is really just a long, fancy, German word for “Plum Cake”. However, Zwetschgen are the German name for Blue Plums, also known as Prune Plums or Damson Plums. Correct me if I’m wrong. However, these little, oblong plums only come into season around here during the end of summer and knowing me, I love to buy way too much produce that’s in season because well, my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

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The recipe I have today is a typical recipe for this cake that you can find all over Germany. From what I’ve been told, it’s a popular cake to be had at ‘kaffee und kuchen’ time in Germany. Yes, coffee and cake time, a meal eaten between lunch and dinner, mostly on Sundays or really whenever you feel like coffee and cake. Why don’t we have this in Canada? It seems like it would be a very beneficial meal to get you through the day.

So, back to the actual recipe. This cake isn’t what you’d really think of as a “cake”. The base is made out of a slightly sweet, yeasted dough, topped, with fresh plums, a sprinkling of sliced almonds, and a streusel topping. Also, serving with whipped cream is a must. It’s both light from the tanginess of the plums as well as substantial from the dough. Without the streusel, I’d say would make for a delicious breakfast, whipped cream optional.

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Zwetschgendatschi (German Plum Cake)
Makes about 8 servings
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Apple and Blackberry Kuchen and Delicious Days’ Zwetschgendatschi

For the dough:
350g/ 3 cups all purpose flour
50g/ 1/4 cup sugar
1.5 tsp dried yeast
125ml lukewarm milk (2% or Homo)
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g/ 1/4 cup soft salted butter

For the Filling:
Approximately 25 small Damson Plums or half of that if using regular plums
100g/ 1/2 cup brown sugar
50g/ 1/2 cup slivered almonds

For the Streusel:
50g/ 1/4 cup flour
50g/ 1/4 cup cold, salted butter, diced
50g/ 1/4 cup brown sugar

Cream or egg for egg wash

Line an 8.5 inch x 12 inch tray with a piece of parchment paper. You may also use a slightly bigger tray if that’s what you have.

To make the dough, stir yeast into warmed milk and let stand for a few minutes until foamy. Either using a stand mixer with the dough hook or by hand, combine the flour and sugar in your mixing bowl and stir in milk, eggs, and vanilla. Knead for about 5 minutes with the machine or about 10 by hand on your counter. If the dough is very sticky, add a little more flour, a tbsp at a time. Knead in the softened butter until the dough looks springy and doesn’t stick to the bowl or your hands. Form the dough into a ball and place into a buttered bowl, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place, to rise for about an hour and a half or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, prep the plums by slicing them into quarters, lengthwise. Make the streusel topping by combining the 3 ingredients with your fingers until the butter is mixed in well with the flour and sugar, to form a crumbly mix. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat your oven to 350˚F.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick and slightly larger than your tray. If there is too much dough, just trim off the sides and use the leftover dough another time (I rolled out my extra dough and spread softened butter and sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon over to make cinnamon buns).

Press the dough into the tray and up the sides. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and place the plums on top, skin facing down, tightly next to each other. Sprinkle over the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar and the streusel topping. Next, sprinkle the slivered almonds over top. Let the Kuchen sit for 15 minutes for the dough to rise a little and then brush with egg wash or cream if you have it.

Bake on the middle rack for about 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes. If the top is browning too much, cover with a piece of foil.

Enjoy warm with a side of fresh whipped cream.

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Perfect Pie

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It’s pie season!

There’s just something so homey and comforting about pies. I don’t know what it is. It’s not like I even grew up eating pies at home because my mother never wanted to bother with making something as fiddly as a pie. The only time I remember having a homemade pie when I was a kid was when my father and I tried to bake an apple pie together. I think it probably took us about 5 hours to just get it into the oven. Then of course, we never baked it properly and it ended up swimming in a pool of apple liquid.

Then, years later I tried my hand again at making pies but this time alone. You’d think that something like a pie, with just fruits and flour wouldn’t be so difficult… but that dough! The one you’re not supposed to over work for fear of a chewy, tough crust but instead gently pat and roll into shape, only to have it crumble on you while transferring it to the dish. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so frustrated by a dessert in my life.

Luckily, I’ve improved on my pie making skills and happen to have the perfect recipe for delicious, flakey, melt in your mouth crust that uses only 2 ingredients (not including water). Just salted butter, and plain flour. Nothing else. The technique however is a little different than your regular pie crust and comes from Pim Techamuanvivit at Chez Pim. It involves a bit of work, but nothing too hard to accomplish and also results in a VERY easy to handle dough that will in no way break on you while transferring it to the dish. And for that, I am thankful.

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Since I have so much rhubarb growing in my backyard it only makes sense to make a pie with rhubarb. Though, unfortunately a pie with only rhubarb would either be way too tart or need way too much sugar and that’s just not my kind of thing. Luckily, it’s also strawberry season and the perfect time for delicious Ontario strawberries.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Salted Butter Crust
Makes 1 9″ lattice topped pie

First make the pie crust following this recipe.

3 1/2 cups rhubarb cut into 1cm pieces
3 1/2 cups hulled, and quartered strawberries
1/2 cup of coconut sugar
1/2 cup of golden sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp all purpose flour
pinch of salt

1 egg beaten with a tablespoon of water
turbinado or coarse raw sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Combine filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently.

Lightly flour your work surface and roll out half the dough until it is slightly larger than your pie dish. Transfer to the pie dish. Roll out the second piece of dough slightly larger than the pie dish and cut out 14 1cm wide strips. Add filling to the dish and gently arrange the strips in a lattice pattern so that the strips weave in and out of one another. Trim off any excess dough from the sides and crimp the edges with your fingers. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash over the crust. Now, with any extra dough left over, roll it out and cut out two or three leaf shapes and place them in the middle of the pie as decoration. Brush these with egg wash as well. Finally, sprinkle the pie with coarse sugar and place on a baking tray. Bake for about an hour or until the filling is bubbling and thickened. Let cool completely before slicing.

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