Tag Archives: pineapple cakes

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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Pineapple…Taiwanese Style

Have you ever tried Taiwanese pineapple cakes? They’re lovely little buttery pastries filled with a sweet pineapple jam and the best ones come from bakeries in Taiwan. I’ve had the pleasure (and displeasure) of trying a whole bunch of different ones, some straight from Taiwanese bakeries and some straight from the Chinese grocery store. You can imagine which ones were better.

Now, I don’t tend to have a particular interest in Chinese desserts. There’s just something so unappealing, to me, about the sound of black sesame paste filled sticky rice balls, or sweet red bean soup, or…Chinese wife cake. Actually, I just watched my sister put a black sesame mochi ball into her mouth and spit it back out, mainly because she’s mildly allergic to sesame seeds, but that doesn’t usually stop her when she’s hungry. These pineapple cakes however, are nothing like your traditional Chinese dessert.

My version of these miniature cakes is a little different than a regular pineapple cake since the outer pastry is more in between a cake and cookie and I left out the regular addition of winter melon in the filling since I assume it’s really just there for filler. But isn’t that the case with so many things today. Fillers everywhere. It’s so hard to find foods that aren’t filled with chemicals and by-products or even just cheaper alternatives. I guess that’s what the majority of products are about nowadays, quantity over quality.

So, I’m not saying that these are the healthiest treats in the world, I’ll save the granola bars for another post, but they’re definitely not packed with fillers or red bean or black sesame paste. Oh, and they’re also a bit tedious to make especially if you’re making a large batch of them but they’re well worth it.

First portion the jam into balls,

then, flatten a piece of dough and wrap it around the pineapple jam,

shape into squares,

bake.

They didn’t bake into the perfect squares I had hoped for but I also didn’t have the square moulds that should be used to bake them in. No matter, they all go into the stomach as my mother always says.

Taiwanese Pineapple Cakes

Inspired by this and this recipe
Makes 20 small pastries filled with pineapple jam

For the pineapple jam:
1 medium pineapple (about 450g of edible pineapple), chopped finely
1/4 cup (60g) caster sugar
scant 1/4 cup (60g) golden syrup
1 tsp cornstarch + 1 tsp water, mixed into a slurry

For the dough:
1 stick (113g) salted butter
1/4 cup (55g) shortening
1/2 cup (65g) confectioners sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (210g) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (35g) corn starch
1/4 tsp (1g) baking soda

First make the pineapple jam. Combine the chopped pineapple with the sugar and syrup in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook on low to medium heat for about 20-30 minutes while constantly stirring. Once the mixture has cooked down and thickened up, mix the cornstarch slurry into the pineapple and cook for another few minutes. Scrape mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until cool.

To make the pastry, cream the butter, shortening, and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated then mix in the flour, corn starch, and baking soda until just combined. It will be a very soft dough but if it seems too sticky to handle, mix in a little more flour a tablespoon at a time. Let the dough firm up in the fridge while you portion the pineapple jam.

Portion the jam into 20 equal sized balls by dusting your hands with powdered sugar.

Portion the dough into 20 equal pieces.

Assemble the cakes by liberally dusting your work surface and hands with flour and flatten the dough into a circle. Place a ball of jam in the centre of each flattened dough piece and fold up the corners and use a knife or a dough scraper to shape the sides.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F

Bake the cakes on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, flipping the cakes over with a spatula half way through. Be very careful while flipping as they will be very soft at this point. They should be lightly browned on both sides. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool to room temperature.

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