Up-side down, Phake- Me-Out Pflaumenkuchen

On a nice cool evening a few nights ago I was walking down the street with my friend when we encountered what looked like a large crate of plums, discarded by the side of the road. Curious, we examined closer to find that, indeed they were plums, and most were still good. Now, if this were the U.S., I would have assumed that each one was fitted with a tiny razor blade and that would be the end of the story, but being in Berlin I decided to whimsically cast aside my American paranoia and bring the lovey plums home. I would make pflaumenkuchen, I thought. (Oh, how innocent I was back then.)

You see, a while back I had bookmarked Mihl from Seitan is My Motor's post on pflaumenkuchen, thinking it would be a good thing to make since a) plums are falling from the sky and b) I could impress my man with some traditional home-cooked german fare, rather than just bitching about how I can't cook because there are no chipotles in Germany. It all sounded well and good, until I started to make it.

The first problem happened in the grocery store, when I couldn't find yeast for the life of me, tried to ask a shopkeeper, and then, gesticulating wildly, dropped my purse along with thousands of euro coins all over floor. (Yeast is "hefe", in case you're wondering.)

Then came the measuring. You see, having no access to measuring cups at the moment, I thought I would try some improvisation: a shot glass! I merely converted the measurements into shot glass ounces and hoped for the best, rather absent-mindedly and cockily combining things while chatting on skype with my mother in the states. But soon, I realized that something had gone wrong. The dough was incredibly sticky, not warm like yeasted things ought to be, and getting worse by the moment. (Looking back, I think I doubled the soymilk and halved the yeast. Ugh.) Before long, I was frantically adding in flour using my elbows (hands too sticky) and cursing the day I ever thought I could bake. I suddenly knew, with frightening clarity, that never again would I spend a casual afternoon making muffins or cupcakes. Instead, I would be the stupid American who doesn't understand celcius or the metric system and has to busy herself with dropping coins all over supermarkets for small German children to find. German children whose mothers probably make a killer pflaumenkuchen. UGHHHH.

*Ahem*. However, an hour later, when my terrible little dough had not risen yet, I decided to strike back with trademark American ingenuity. I put all the plums I have dutifully cut up, along with some vanilla sugar and earth balance, in the bottom of the tin. I rolled the dough out thinly, cut it to size, and placed it on top. Then I cooked the whole thing for about 30 minutes. Here is what appeared after some flipping:

Not bad, right? At least pretty, or nothing a little powdered sugar couldn't pretty up.

As for the taste? The plum part was delicious, the dough was not too sweet and (obvs) un-risen and a little tough but had sort of a plum juice layer that tasted a bit like marzipan. And my boyfriend? Thought it was all intentional. Hurrah! Am not most worthless cook in Europe after all!

All the same though, I still have the ingredients, and 1/2 a crate of plums left... I think I want to try Mihl's recipe again, this time not fuc*ing it up utterly... maybe I'll use something a tad more accurate for measuring this time? While I ponder it, I may as well finish off the rest of my little monster creation, which, after all, really wasn't too bad. Particularly with a bunch of powdered sugar and a glass of soymilk.

Song of the Day: Die Stern- Was hat dich bloß so ruiniert?


Crystal said...

It certainly looks delicious! Think of it like your first pancake- it never comes out as good as the second- third or the last one... sometimes food needs to be tried, failed, tossed away and made again.. At least this first attempt was edible! Either way your in Germany! So it can't all be bad :-) Keep trying!

Mihl said...

Die Sterne is one of my all time favourite bands. I just had to say this.
I wish I could have helped you with the pfaumenkuchen, translations, and conversations! I think you did really well and the metric system can be mean (well actually I do think this about cups and tablespoons...). Your Pflaumenkuchen looks great!

Sara said...

That came out looking delish! Have you considered buying a little cheapie kitchen scale? I really want one, and for measuring dry ingredients, they can't be beat. Way to use your Amurrikan ingenuity, chica!

J. said...

Not that I want to betray my Canadianess or anything, but I use cups and tablespoons too. And miles. And feet. And inches.

I loved reading this post, so good to know other people get up their elbows in flour and uncertainty.

miss v said...

not bad! i love the impromptu shot-glass measuring. sounds very macgyver.

The Voracious Vegan said...

Well done! I'm very impressed with your kitchen ingenuity! It really does look delicious, I love plums...

Bianca said...

Yum! Like a plum pizza! Hurray for determination! I would have probably given up and thrown the dough away....but not you...you persevered and ended up with a beautiful happy accident!

jessy said...

nice save, T - you are too awesome! i totally would have freaked out and tossed it all into the compost pile - i just get really frustrated and discouraged. i commend you for sticking it out and making it most glorious. i'm glad the results were super tasty, and i think it's beauuuuutiful!

Soo-Youn said...


I had the chance to have a taste of it - so I can tell: it was delicious! (Buchi and me finished it ;)
Cool blog, btw.


Gauri Radha गौरी राधा said...

That looks terrific.