Oma's Empress Plum Cake

This recipe for pflaumenkuchen (plum cake) has been in Chef Sarah's family for five generations. It calls for Italian Prune Plums, or Empress Plums, which are egg-shaped, dusky purple in color, densely flavorful and contain less water than their American cousins.  This simple plum cake is an annual tradition that showcases the best of the fruit that is its namesake. 

Oma's Plum Cake

Oma's Plum Cake

Oma’s* Pflaumenkuchen (Plum Cake)


  • 3lbs. Prune plums, pitted & quartered
  • 4 oz. (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1cup granulated sugar + more for sprinkling
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder


  • Cream sugar and butter together on medium high in a standing mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the egg and beat until incorporated.
  • Lower the mixer to medium and add the flour and baking powder until just mixed in. Refrigerate in the bowl for 10 minutes.
  • Press the dough out in an even layer into 10 x 14 baking pan.
  • Lay quartered plums skin side down on dough – closely overlapped as they shrink during cooking.
  • Sprinkle additional sugar over plums.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 1 hour until the crust has set and the plums begin to caramelize on their edges. Cool and serve topped with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.

* Clara von Westernhagen Howland

Sarah Flynn