It’s damson time in Germany! I recently went home to see my family in the countryside, and my parents have a lovely garden with some produce such as green beans, different varieties of apples, and lots of herbs in it. Also, since it is a rural area, during this time of the year there are lot of damsons around, either from your own garden or from your relative’s or friend’s. What to do with them? The preferred use for these plums over here in Germany is on cake. Since they have less liquid than regular plum, they won’t give your cake a soggy bottom (and we all hate that). Also, you add some streusel on top – can’t get any more German. This is my mom’s recipe, adapted to be all plant based.
Here is what you need for a baking tray (45 cm x 37 cm/18 inch x 14.5 inch):
500 g flour
250 ml warm soya milk
42 g fresh yeast (or about 14 g dry active yeast)
125 g melted margarine
1.5 kg damsons/cake plums (they are less juicy than normal plums)
pinch of salt
zest of one organic lemon
For the streusel you need:
200 g melted margarine
170 g flour
60 g sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Start by making the yeast dough. Put the flour along with the sugar and the salt in a big bowl. Warm the soya milk to about 30°C/90°F. Crumble the fresh yeast into the milk and pour onto the flour. Mix in slightly and let sit for about 30 minutes. Melt the margarine, but be careful not to overheat it. Let it cool down a little so it won’t deactivate the yeast (which it does if it is too hot). Mix the flour-and-yeast-mixture with your hands, then add the melted margarine and the lemon zest, and knead a dough. I took mine out of the bowl onto a floured surface and kneaded it for about 3 to 4 minutes until the dough was elastic and had a nice shine to it. If you are using dry active yeast, mix the flour, sugar, salt and yeast together, then add the milk, lemon zest and melted margarine. Knead for about 3 to 4 minutes until elastic and shiny. Put the dough ball back into the bowl and cover with a clean tea towel, let prove for about 1 hour (or until the dough has doubled).
Meanwhile work on the damsons. Cut them in half, take the stone out, and cut them in on the top again about half way though, so they are easier to lay on the cake later. Also, make the streusel. Just add all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. The streusel should be flakey, not too dough like. If your streusels are not flakey, add a bit more flour, one tablespoon at the time.
Once proved, roll the dough into a rectangle the size of your baking tray (mine is about 45 cm x 37 cm). I rolled mine directly on a sheet of parchment paper and laid it onto the baking tray before adding the damsons. The dough should be about 1.5 cm (a bit more than half an inch) high. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Use a fork and pinch quite a few holes into the dough. I have no idea why, but my mom and granny always do it. Lay the damsons in neat lines onto the dough, then scatter the streusel over them. Put the cake into the oven for about 45 minutes. The streusel and the dough on the bottom should be slightly brown. Enjoy slightly warm with some vanilla ice cream or just by itself with a cuppa.