The aroma of a Polish-style Plum Cake (in Polish: ‘Placek ze Śliwkami’ pron.: ‘platsek zeh shlevka-me’) coming from the kitchen is a sign of the upcoming fall.
In this delightful recipe, halved prune plums are nestled atop a fluffy yeast cake and sprinkled with a crunchy, buttery crumble. As the cake bakes, the batter rises – causing the plums to lazily sink into it. Fresh plums keep their shape, yet their flesh turns sweet and tender.
For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.
Traditional Polish cuisine is very seasonal and regional. After all, it had to be – to make the most out of the gifts of nature, available at a given time and place.
From mid-summer till the end of autumn, Polish orchards are abundant with plums. The branches are bending under the weight of the fruit.
One of the most popular ways to enjoy them is in cakes. These can be either based on yeast (like this one here), or a shortcrust pastry. The most famous enthusiast of plum cakes was Józef Piłsudski, one of the most important figures in Polish history. (source)
Do you need any special ingredients or equipment to make this Polish Plum Cake?
As long as you can purchase good plums, everything else should be easily available in any major supermarket.
🇵🇱 In Poland, we use a plum called “Węgierka” (which literally translates to “the Hungarian”). They’re egg-shaped and have thick purple skin. The flesh is yellow and firm.
🌍 Internationally, look out for ‘prune plums’, or ‘purple plums’. Damsons (Polish: “Śliwka Lubaszka”) will work as well. Make sure the fruits are quite firm – overripe, spongy plum will spoil your cake.
Equipment-wise, you’ll need:
- flour sifter
- digital scales; optional but extremely useful, especially in baking
- stand mixer; optional – but it makes the process easier
- large baking pan. Mine is sized at 35 x 40 cm (that’s just under 14’’ x 16’’) but that’s not a typical size in the US. A suitable alternative would be 12 x 18’’ (30 x 46 cm), two square 10’’ (26 cm) pans or two round 11’’ (28 cm) pans.
2 inches (5 cm) in height is enough.
What should you serve with this plum cake?
This Placek is a typical tea cake – or, as our US-based friends would call it – a coffee cake. It tastes best with a cup of hot beverage, such as tea or coffee.
When selecting wine, dry white (still or sparkling) pairs beautifully here.
Can you make this cake another way?
Yes. If you’re not a fan of yeast cakes, another popular version of this dessert is based on a shortcrust pastry. I hope to post a recipe soon.
You could also:
- Swap plums for apricots, peaches, nectarines or sour cherries.
- Sprinkle a generous handful of almond flakes on top.
- Sprinkle the cake with sugar or glaze with powdered sugar icing. I make a quick lemon icing by adding a few drops of lemon juice into powdered sugar and blending it together with a fork.
What diets is this plum cake suitable for?
This recipe is suitable for vegetarians.
How long can you keep this cake in the fridge?
As long as you’re planning to eat the entire cake on the same day (as it’s often the case), you can keep it at room temperature. Just cover it with a cloth and store it in a dark cool place.
Alternatively, cover the cake with cling film and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Can I freeze this plum cake?
Yes, this recipe can be frozen. Before you do so, it’s worth portioning the cake into individual servings, so that you can retrieve them easily later on.
As soon as the cake has cooled down, wrap each portion in cling film, or place it in a small freezer-friendly zip bag. Label it with a description and the date. Aim to consume within 3 months.
To thaw, leave it out at room temperature overnight.
Aleksandra Piłsudska, Józef Piłsudski’s second wife described her husband’s culinary preferences in her memoirs: “Wspomnienia” were published in 1940 in English as “Memoirs of Madame Piłsudski”. Available to read online here.