German Yeast Cake with Persimmons
When I think of Germany, I think of the bakeries: filled to the brim with rows of pastries and bread loaves all shining, fresh, and delicious.
I love food, but at the top of the list is anything baked. Butter, flour, sugar – simple ingredients mixed together, placed in the oven, and, a short time later, transformed into something divine. The satisfying perfection of carbs, sugar, and warmth.
The Germans have turned baking into an art form and you can hardly turn a corner in major cities without running into a bakery. Even the smallest villages have a shop that supplies its residents with treats from the oven.
The warm, comforting sensation of baked goods is similar to the warm welcome I received from the Germans when I first visited nearly a decade ago. I was studying abroad in Rome and went to visit friends in Dresden and Berlin. The European Cup was underway and the Germans were in high spirits, cheering on the national football (soccer) team. Friends of friends invited me to watch matches with them and welcomed me with into their homes and lives. In between goals, we shared stories about our countries and laughed amidst the revelry.
Years later, I met the German man who would later become my husband. We were both living in the Netherlands and the lack of neighborhood bakeries with hearty bread was the cause of much heartache for Marcus, and every expat German I met while abroad. The Dutch bread just didn’t compare to the German bread for them, which sometimes is nearly as heavy as a brick. When we would fly to Berlin to visit his family, the bakery would be among the first stops. There, I was introduced to a variety of delectable pastries. Pfannkuchen, Schnecken, Kasekuchen, Palmier, Mohnplunder. Marcus often selected Pflaumenkuchen, a yeast cake topped with plums. It was the perfect combination of wholesome, not-too-sweet cake and late summer fruit baked warm. In this recipe, I’ve traded plums for persimmons for the winter months, but you can also use apples or pears.
There’s nothing like travel to get the appetite ready for new tastes and cooking methods, and I’m happy to have Carly Diaz here once again, showing how seeing the world inspires us in the kitchen. Don’t miss her last post, about eating mussels in Belgium.
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup milk
- 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cube of fresh yeast (42 grams of fresh yeast) or 14 grams of dry yeast
- 3 ½ cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- zest of a lemon
- 1 egg
- 2 to 3 persimmons
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Warm the milk and sugar over a low heat. When slightly warmer than room temperature, crumble the yeast in and let dissolve, stirring slowly. Remove from the heat. Mix the flour, salt, and lemon zest in a bowl. Add in the warm yeast mixture, the melted butter, and the egg. Knead until smooth. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.
- Grease a small baking sheet with butter. Cut the persimmons into thin slices. Place the dough on the baking sheet and push so it spreads, until it reaches the edges. The cake should be about 1-inch thick. Cover and let rise another 20 minutes. Place fruit on dough overlapping. Bake 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle with sugar then let cool.