“Those fine blue plums which hang by such millions by the waysides and […] used for those nice large plum tarts or cakes, of half a yard wide, which they bake in tins, with the plums cut in halves and stuck with the split side upwards all over them.”
This was William Howitt’s description of what are known as “Zwetschgen” here in southern Germany, in his book The Rural and Domestic Life of Germany, published in 1842.
Known in Bavaria as “Zwetschgendatschi”, those nice plum tarts half a yard wide are still as ubiquitous today as the fine blue plums (oval-shaped Switzen plums) from which they are made…
… but there is only so much Zwetschgendatschi you can eat in one (late) summer and so these are some of the other options I turn to for all our fine blue plums:
Spicy Plum Chutney
Buttery Plum Dumplings
known in the vernacular as “Zwetschgenknödel”
Prep. Time: 15 minutes + 15 minutes resting
Cooking time: approx. 30 minutes
Floury potatoes 400g
plus extra for dusting
Ripe plums 12
Brown sugar 6tsp
Ground cinnamon 3tsp
For the buttery coating:
Brown sugar 50g
Whipped cream to serve
1. To make the dumpling dough, wash, peel and boil the potatoes. Mash so that there are no lumps left and leave to cool.
2. Add the flour, egg and a pinch of salt to the cold mashed potato. Knead into a smooth dough and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
3. Wash the plums, slice them open lengthways, remove the stones and then place them, cut side up, on a plate.
4. Mix the brown sugar and ground cinnamon togetherand place half a teaspoon of the cinnamon sugar in the hollow of each plum.
5. Shape the dough on a floured surface into a roll about 5 cm thick. Cut the roll into 12 slices.
6. Place a plum on each slice of dough and wrap each plum in dough so that it is fully enclosed. You don’t want too thick a lump ofdough, though, otherwise your dumplings well tend towards soggy.
7. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the dumplings and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the cooked dumplings from the water and drain.
8. To make the buttery coating, melt the butter in a large frying pan (the dumplings will need space in the pan to crisp up so do this bit in batches if your frying pan is not large enough).
9. Place the drained dumplings in the frying pan with the butter, sprinkle with the polenta and brown sugar and fry over a medium tohigh heat until brown and crispy on the outside, moist and fruity on the inside. Serve warm with a dusting of cinnamon and generous portions of whipped cream.
And if you do want to have a go at Zwetschgendatschi yourself, you will find a German recipe here: http://www.bayerische-spezialitaeten.net/…/bayerischer-zwet…
or an English version in Elisabeth Luard’s European Peasant Cookery, Grub Street Books (paperback 2007), page 468.
http://grubstreet.co.uk/product/european-peasant-cookery/ (and no, they are not paying me to write this…)