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!


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