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Italian Prune Plums---what to make?

Okay, I have NEVER baked with Italian Prune Plums. It's time to remedy that. Any suggestions for what to make?

Have any of you made any of the following, and if so, can you vouch for them? Or perhaps you have other suggestions?


Italian purple plum cake
from Great Cakes: Over 250 Recipes to Bake, Share, and Enjoy by Carole Walter

Plum torte
from Cooking for Comfort: More Than 100 Wonderful Recipes That Are As Satisfying to Cook As They Are to Eat by Marian Burros

Plum crumb cake
from The Modern Baker: Time-Saving Techniques for Breads, Tarts, Pies, Cakes and Cookies by Nick Malgieri

Tarte aux quetsches, or prune plum tart
from Orangette by Molly Wizenberg and Saveur Magazine

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  1. Haven't made any of those, but...

    On the rare occasion I don't manage to eat all the Italian plums (quetsches) like a ravenous beast (see my icon), I've found they make a stellar stand-in for cherries in a variation of clafoutis.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      I've also made that "susine" clafoutis. Lovely, and not too sweet.

    2. Google Pflaumenkuchen for more choices.

      My default recipe for plum tart could not be easier. Make your favorite plain-ish cookie dough. Sugar cookie, oatmeal, gingersnap, whatever. Press it into a pie pan or tart pan.
      Leave peels on the washed plums and cut each into 4 wedges. With the ends of the wedges pointing toward the center of the dough and starting from the outside line them up, skin side down in concentric circles in the pan. You may need to cut up a few of the wedges in order to fit them into the innermost circle. Sprinkle with 1/3 to 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (depending on the sweetness of the fruit and your cookie dough) and bake at 350-375 until juices bubble and thicken, and the crust is brown 30-40 min. If it's browning too fast, wrap aluminum foil over the edges. It's wise to have your pie pan on a sheet pan to catch juices if they bubble over. Once the tart is cool, you can optionally glaze it by brushing melted currant, apple, or quince jelly over it. Serve cold, warm, or room temp.

      This tart can be done with all sorts of fruit. Thickening is optional for plum or apple, but if using berries or really juicy peaches, etc., toss the fruit with cornstarch, arrowroot, or tapioca flour, and sugar, before arranging over the dough.

      3 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        Are Pflaumenkuchen all made with yeasted dough, Greygarious?

        Everyone---thanks for the ideas.

        1. re: soccermom13

          Not necessarily. Kuchen can mean tart or cake, depending on which German you're raised by. The tart I described is something Mom called kuchen.

          1. re: greygarious

            Yes, but the translation is simply: Kuchen = cake

      2. I had some really ones from the farmers market and roasted briefly at a high heat (i dont have a bbq, grilled would have been better) and then i drizzled with a basalmic glaze i made with lots of fresh pepper, served ontop of a simple quinoa/spinach/almonds/ currants cold salad

        1. Plum jam. My grandmother used to make it and I miss it. Found a recipe on line that included Grand Marnier. Pretty sure gramma didn't use that.

          Note to self: Must look for prune plums.

          8 Replies
          1. re: chicgail

            Christine Ferber has two recipes in her book Mes Confitures. One is plain Quetsch plum jam, the second includes pinot noir. I can attest: delicious! Amazing the difference of adding the wine makes.

            1. re: walliser

              Humm, I may have to check that book out of the library. I made plum jam yesterday with just a pinch of cinnamon and it was very, very good. I deliberately left it "loose" rather than too gelled so I can use it as glaze for tarts. I LOVE the rosy color. I froze it instead of water bath processing.

              1. re: walliser

                Walliser, do you have the recipes for either of those plum jams (but especially the the one with the pinor noir)? I would love to have it if you can post it. Otherwise, I suppose I could look for the book...

                1. re: chicgail


                  2 3/4 lbs prune plums, 2 1/4 lbs net
                  1 1/4 cup Alsatian Pinot Noir
                  4 2/3 cups sugar
                  juice of 1 small lemon
                  1 vanilla bean

                  rinse plums in cold water, pat them dry then split lengthwise to remove pit
                  in a nonreactive bowl combine fruit, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla bean split lengthwise
                  macerate for an hour, then pour into a pan and bring to a boil for a minute, the pour back into the bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight
                  next day bring to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes, stirring gently
                  skim and add the pinot noir, return to a boil for about 5 minutes, stirring gently
                  remove vanilla bean, return to boil and check the set
                  put into jars and seal immediately.

                  Yield is 6 half pint jars.

                  Ms Ferber makes jams in the European fashion: filled boiling hot and sealed immediately without any further processing. It has worked well for me, but you may not feel comfortable with this.
                  While there appears to be a lot of sugar, I never found Ferber's recipes to be overly sweet.

                  If you are thinking about getting the book, here are a couple of points: she uses home made pectin stock (recipes included), makes jam in the European style and recipes use the traditional amounts of sugar.

                  1. re: walliser

                    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

                    I found Italian plums yesterday and can't wait to make this. How critical do you think it is that the pinot noir be Alsatian? I have a couple bottles of the domestic stuff.

                    1. re: chicgail

                      Critical due to the fact that Ms Ferber is from the Alsace. You get the idea...

                      Trust me: any Pinot Noir will be fine! ;-)

                      1. re: walliser

                        dunno about that -- alsatian pinots are very light with delicate fruit aromas, while many american pinots are hot, heavy, fruit bombs.

                2. re: walliser

                  I made the jam but after I added the wine (and I only used 1/2 cup), it got very liquidy. What went wrong?

              2. I just made Pflaumenkuchen/Plum cake yesterday ( and used the extra dough to make a Nutella Roll). It was good! :-)
                I made a simple yeast dough, rolled it out thin, brushed on a bit of softened Butter and layered the fruit.( washed and then cut as in picture) Sprinkled Sugar and Cinnamon on top and baked at 350 degr F 30 min.
                Yeast dough - think Pizza dough, but substitute water with Milk, use Butter instead of Olive Oil, I added a couple of Eggs and a bit of Honey.

                1 Reply
                1. re: RUK

                  This is how my German family always made Plum Kuchen - a rich yeast dough patted thin into a cake tin, then wedges of the plums arranged on top, a little butter, sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon, bake, done. Always a hit.

                  1. re: LisaN

                    Ohhh, I like that! I haven't made that in years!

                  2. Pardon the savory suggestion, but they're also lovely with roast pork.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pinehurst

                      yes, especially chopped and cooked lightly with carmelized onions (and I sneak a little hot pepper in there), to make a kind of chutney.

                    2. I really like this plum crumble recipe from the New York Times about seven years ago. We rarely have leftovers: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/21/din...

                      The famous Marion Burros plum torte is all right, but I've never understood the big fuss over it.

                      1. The plum and cardamom cake from Regan Daley's In the Sweet Kitchen is the one I make every year, usually as many as I can before the prune plums disappear. Here's a link:

                        1. I have made this plum cake many many times - and it's always a winner!


                          And, hopefully attached below is a pic of it made with regular sliced plums - still terrific!

                          1. Thanks for these terrific suggestions!

                            1. It's a ton of work, and no fun in the dog days of August, but these are divine:


                              Gumbaz is traditionally a dessert, but because of the limited availability of the plums. we made them a weekly family dinner for the few weeks we could every year.

                              I haven't seen Italian Prune Plums in years, or I would be making them. [The recipe says boil for 30 minutes. No. Maybe 10-15.]

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: nikkihwood

                                These are almost identical to their Austrian counterpart: zwetchgenknodel. Basically, the only difference is that you insert a sugar cube into the pitted prune plum before enclosing it in the dough.

                                1. re: jammy

                                  Oh - my grandmother once made this version for an Austrian client - I remember her attempting to talk my mom into trying it. No go. :)

                                  I wish could find the plums...

                              2. The Plum Poppyseed Muffins from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook sound tempting. Quick & easy, the recipe is online in many places. I must find some Italian plums soon before it's too late to try these recommendations here.

                                1. Once i made a plum clafouti using julia Child's cherry clafouti recipe. turned out pretty good.

                                  1. These are terrific ideas. Yesterday I made Marion Burros' Plum Torte simply because it's dead simple and I a number of things to do before I dashed off to work. I loved the way baking and a little spice transformed the Italian prune plums into something quite magical. The torte's edges were fabulous---almost like a cookie with that wonderful baked plum jamminess (s?) atop. Made me realize that Greygarious' cookie dough with plums atop could be killer good.

                                    And all of you who suggested a rich, sweet yeasted dough with plums atop---that sounds fabulous too. And the dumplings! Oh my, those sound great too.

                                    But these plums are hard to find! It was just dumb luck that I stumbled upon them earlier this week. After I tasted them baked and fell in love, I asked DH to call several stores to see who had them. Most did not, but two said they did so on the way home from work today I'll be stopping by.

                                    Thanks again, 'hounds, for your great and generous suggestions.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: soccermom13

                                      It is still early in the season for these type of Plums, at least around here. I was surprised to find beautiful, ripe Plums/Prunes last week at Fairway (in Paramus, NJ). We tasted them, they were really good and I went back to get more for baking.
                                      I would expect them to make their appearances soon at other Farms/Markets

                                    2. How funny! I too acquired these plums this week and have never used them before.

                                      I am planning on making this torte this weekend:


                                      I'll have to look over these other recipes, though, and see if anything sounds more interesting.

                                      1. Use with pork. Amazing sauce!

                                        1. Does anyone have the original Tarte aux Quetsches recipe from Saveur (as opposed to Orangette's adaptation)?

                                          5 Replies
                                            1. re: soccermom13

                                              Hope someone can help. I've wasted WAY too many hours looking for it online! Even posted on Saveur's Facebook page (twice).

                                            2. re: andrea thurm

                                              Found it in the Sept/Oct 2001 issue. (Instructions paraphrased)

                                              2 c flour
                                              2 Tbsp sugar
                                              Pinch salt
                                              10 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
                                              1 egg

                                              2 lbs prune plums, halved lengthwise and pitted
                                              2 eggs
                                              1/4 c sugar
                                              3 Tbsp flour
                                              1/4 c heavy cream
                                              1/4 c milk

                                              1. Make the pastry: Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Beat egg + 4 Tbsp ice water in a small bowl, then add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until it just holds together. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead several times with the heel of your hand. Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap , and refrigerate 2 hours.

                                              2. Preheat oven to 375. Roll dough into a 14-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Place dough into a 12-inch tart pan and prick the bottom of the pastry all over with a fork.

                                              3. Make the filling: Arrange plums in a single layer, cut side down, in the pastry shell. Whisk remaining ingredients together in a bowl until smooth, and pour over plums.

                                              4. Bake until plums are soft and top of custard is golden, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely before serving.

                                              1. re: AmyLouise

                                                YOU RULE, AmyLouise. This looks REALLY good :0)

                                              2. I'm losing it!. I was three sentences into how to make tomato sauce using 'Italian plum tomatoes' and freeze them. LOL

                                                1. A family favorite and looked forward to at Christmas. Plum Brandy.

                                                  Cut 2 lbs. of plums in half. Put in 1 gallon wide mouth jar with 2 cups white sugar. Fill with cheap vodka. Wait 4 months.

                                                  The plums are still edible and a treat on vanilla ice cream.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                    1. re: TroyTempest

                                                      I never have as the 80 proof booze has never allowed the formation of mold or fermentation. Make sure the booze covers the plums well.

                                                      My Grandfather was a bootlegger in Chicago during prohibition, and we have a number of recipes to convert white lightening into something drinkable.

                                                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                        That sounds pretty tasty. If i started some soon, it would be ready about Xmas time.

                                                  1. MARKET BASKET heads-up. The New England chain has them on sale for $1.29 this coming week.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                      we just got some from mb. insanely sour. jeebus.

                                                    2. I make a Dutch plum cake as often as I can when prune plums are in season. The recipe is from an older "Farm Journal's Country Cookbook" that I have. I suspect the recipe will be very similar to the plum crumb cake recipe you found. I recommend it highly. I think using plums in desserts has somehow gone out of style. But plum desserts are really incredibly good.
                                                      However, like blueberries in muffins or desserts; the cake should be made the same day it is to be eaten.