Saturday, April 7, 2012

Weekend Cooking: German Cookbooks & Zwetschgendatschi

There are three German cookbooks in my cookbook library.  Given my Bavarian roots, I would think I'd have a few more.  But given the . . . um . . . limited range of German cooking, perhaps three is all anyone really needs.

I have:

The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking by Mimi Sheraton.  This is my authoritative (wait, it's German, maybe "authoritative" goes without saying), go to book when I want to make a sauerbraten or one of the other standby dishes I really do love. 

The Cooking of Germany - Foods of the World Series by Time Life Books. This offers 1960s, Americanized versions of my childhood favorites, with kitchy pictures.

Bayerisch Kochen by Brigitta Stuber. This is a cute little book my cousin gave me, in German, of Bavarian recipes.

The problem is that none of these books has a recipe for my favorite Bavarian treat, a zwetschgendatschi -- a flat yeast-dough cake covered with sour plums.

My sister just moved back to Portland from Bavaria, where she has been working as a chef at a five-star hotel outside of Munich for the last two years.   I could have asked her to make any number of fancy dishes for Easter, but what I really, really wanted was a zwetschgendatschi.  I even froze the plums last summer for just this moment.

Luckily, I found a recipe on-line and she made me what I wanted (we tweaked it to make it the version we prefer).  I looks terrific and tastes even better.  We kicked off Easter weekend with 'datschi and coffee this morning.


1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. warm milk
1 1/2 pkg. active dry yeast
3 c. flour
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp. butter
2 eggs
2 lb. plums
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
4 - 8 more tbsp. softened butter
About 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Stir a pinch of sugar into warm milk and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand 5 minutes or until the surface is frothy. Stir gently to moisten any dry particles remaining on top. Sift flour, remaining sugar and salt into a medium bowl.

Melt butter; cool slightly. Lightly beat butter and eggs into yeast mixture. Pour into floured mixture, beating to make a dough. On a floured surface, knead dough lightly. Cover and let rise in a warm place 1 hour. Grease a 13 x 9 inch cake pan.

Wash and pit plums; cut lengthwise into halves. Knead risen dough lightly; roll out to fit cake pan. Place dough in greased pan. Pierce dough all over with fork. Arrange plums cut sides up in rows on dough. Sprinkle nuts on top, more between the plums then on them.  Dot each plum half with a dab of soft butter.  Let rise in a warm place 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until plums are wilted and yeast pastry is puffed up and golden between plums. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon while still warm. Cool slightly in pan, then cut into squares.

YUMMY! Or, as they say in Bavaria, schmackofatz!



  1. I own the first two books but not the last one. I don't think I've cooked from them tho (I have the recipe booklet that came with the Time-Life series).

    I love the look and sound of your plum tart/bread/cake. Now I can't wait for plum season. I know what I'm going to make.

  2. Your sister is a sweetie:) My grandfather is German but for some reason I have never explored German cooking. It wasn't a tradition he continued once he became an American citizen. There was a German market and deli we shopped at every Christmas eve for dinner but that mostly consisted of cold cuts, cheeses, delicious rye bread, pastried and potato salad. I am going to request the Sheraton book from my library and check it out.

  3. The Bavarian Plum cake looks heavenly!

  4. Beth: You may also want to try the non-yeast dough versions of the recipe. There are several versions of both on line. The yeast dough turned out to be so firm it wasn't what I had in mind. The non-yeast dough is more like cake and gets my vote.

    Stacy: Thanks for visiting! I just saw that you changed your blog back to Book Psmith (I'm behind in my blog visiting). I always loved that name.

    The German food we eat at my house is mostly of the cold cuts and rye bread variety as well. Or some kind of meat cooked on sauerkraut. I got a sauerkraut crock for Christmas and am still experimenting with how to make kraut that is still crunchy.

  5. Can't say I eat a lot of German meals, German cuisine and vegetarians don't go together that well, and that goes doubly for Bavarian cuisine. But I love Zwetschgenkuchen, but only with lots of sugar on top. Otherwise it is too sour for me.
    But as for the cold cuts, nothing beats a German bakery!

  6. I liked your little "authoritative" joke - LOL! This dish looks great. How great to have a sis that is a professional chef! I like spatzel (probably spelled that wrong) and saurbraten. (yea, probably spelled that wrong too) and red cabbage!! I also like everything in the German sausage family :)

  7. I love the Time Life books...especially the kitchy pictures...I have several, but not sure about the German one. I need to look.

  8. MMM sounds good I lived for a year in Germany love some German dishes The plum cake looks lovely ,all the best stu

  9. Rikki: You are right -- not many vegetarian options with traditional German cooking. But, wow, do they know from cake!

    Libby: Yum! You just named my favorites. And add schnizel (which I probable just spelled wrong).

    Caite: Any vintage cookbooks catches my eye, the kitchier the better. The Time-Life ones can be particularly good.

  10. That looks delicious! I wish we had a chef in our family.

  11. How awesome to have a chef in the family to create the dishes that you like and that it bought back memories for you both!

  12. I too have German roots. My only German food heritage comes from meals I remember eating at my grandparents and great aunts and uncles. I was too young and clueless to ask any of them about the recipes. Your three cookbooks are a great resource.Tbe plum cake looks pretty darn good too. Hardly any sugar, which is surprising.

  13. Yum, plum tart! I'd like to learn more about German cooking. Thanks for sharing your cookbooks.

  14. Yummy! Thanks so much for the recipe.

  15. I have tried German cooking but I am not too good at it. I have to rely on the few remaining German stores in Yorkville to satisfy my German food cravings. Do you speak German, by the way?

  16. Hi Gilion,

    I have to say that, ask an English person about German food and the almost unanimous response would be: Sauerkraut, Bratwurst and Strudel, just goes to show how little we know!

    The plum dough-cake actually sounds delicious, especially with the added cinnamon, although another culture difference means that, in general, you would never find an Englishman eating this for breakfast.

    A really interesting post, enjoy the rest of your Easter weekend,


  17. How lucky you are to have a sister that is a chef! The Plum Cake looks delicious!

  18. My family is German, but we own zero German cookbooks. Wait, I lied, we own German cookbooks, but they're auf Deutsch and (even worse) use the metric system, so not that useful for me. I just make most of our German dishes without a recipe and get the more complicated stuff at a restaurant. :P

  19. I never heard of this dish. I am from the Netherlands but I haven't tried much German cooking myself. Maybe I should change that :)


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