When I first mentioned making plum kuchen as an additional dessert for Eric's birthday, I got some quizzical looks. Kuchen is a German word, after all, and not everyone knows what it is. When I went online to try and show people, though, I discovered for the very first time that what I know as plum kuchen is not necessarily what others know as plum kuchen. There were so many photos of cakes that looked nothing like my mom's version, and just as many different recipes to go with them! I had no idea it wasn't a thing, but a variety of things.
My mom's version, the one I make, isn't actually a cake. It's more of a plum pie or tart, in a delicious buttery crust. And it requires Italian prune plums, which are only in season for about a half a minute in September. For the last several years, I'd actually thought of it immediately after they were out of the supermarkets, and missed the season entirely. This year, I thought of it early and made sure I kept an eye out... and when we were shopping for ingredients for the Bouchon Bakery tart, there they were! My prune plums!
I snapped them up, stashed them in the fridge, and waited for Eric's birthday to roll around so I could share one of my very favorite desserts with our friends.
For the crust, you need:
1 cup flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp water
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
Mix all ingredients and press into pie plate. Chill.
My one mistake here was not bringing the crust quite high enough in the pie plate. You want it all the way up the edge.
For the filling you need:
2 lbs of prune plums (about 24)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
Mix the flour and sugar together, and spread half in the bottom of the crust. Cut plums in half and circle tightly in the pie, alternating the direction of each concentric circle.
Pour the remaining sugar/flour mixture evenly over the plums.
Bake 50 minutes at 400 degrees. And you get...
Utter deliciousness! (and if you make the crust as high as you should, the juice won't pool around the edges like that)