Yeast Cake with Plums – a Masterclass with My Grandmother
When I think about people who have influenced my cooking, my maternal grandmother is surely one of them. For as long as I can remember, she has always baked at least one cake every weekend. And for special occasions, she has made many more of them. Her birthday cakes (torte) with buttercream have been famous amongst family and friends. No wonder people have very often asked her to bring her masterpieces to celebrations instead of gifts. And I can still remember us – her grandchildren – fighting over who was going to scrape bowls with the leftover buttercream.
She has also specialised in yeast cakes which always turn out light and fluffy for her. And since baking with yeast is often considered difficult, no one from my family even tried to take on this challenge for a long time. But when I finally was ready, I knew that if I wanted to know how to bake them properly, I should learn directly from the master.
When we got together, my grandma revealed to me all her tricks on how to prepare the perfect yeast dough*. But a small problem appeared when I asked her about quantities of ingredients. It occurred she always used her intuition and played by ear! When it comes to baking, I am completely different: very precise about the amounts. So I did end up weighing everything, even if during the process we had to add a bit of this or that. I simply wanted to make sure I had not only the perfect description of the yeast dough preparation but also the precise amounts of ingredients to ensure the success. And believe me, if you follow this yeast cake recipe, you will achieve success: a delicious, light and airy yeast cake!
* Please check the recipe below for the details.
Yeast Cake with Plums and Crumble Topping [My Grandma’s Baking – Part I]
A light and airy yeast cake with plums and crumble on top.
Warm up the milk. It should be warm but not hot; hot milk will “kill” the yeast.
Pour half the milk into a cup, add 2 tbsp of sugar and the yeast, stir it and leave till it rises.
Beat the egg yolks with the rest of sugar till creamy.
Put the flour and salt in a big bowl, add the milk and beaten egg yolks and knead for a minute until more or less combined; add the yeast mixture and knead for 1-2 minutes and finally add the melted butter. Knead the dough until it is smooth (however small lumps are fine) and it doesn’t stick to your hand anymore. It should take about 5-7 minutes.
Leave the bowl with the dough in a warm place until it doubles in size. Depending on the temperature, it can take between 1 and 2 hours.
Wash and dry the plums, cut them in half and remove stones. You may not need all of the plums (the amount depends on their size).
Cover a bottom and sides of a rectangular 23cm x 35cm baking tray with baking paper. You may use a slightly bigger tray, but I wouldn’t use a smaller one as then the cake will be too high.
Transfer the dough to the prepared tray and spread it. The best way to do it is with your hands but make sure you cover your hands with oil at first to prevent the dough from sticking to them.
Arrange the plums on top of the dough and leave it to rise again (approx. 10-15 min.)
Preheat an oven to 180 Celsius degrees (fan oven).
Prepare the crumble: melt the butter, add the flour and sugar and rub everything together.
When the cake has risen, put the crumble on top of the plums and place the tray in the hot oven.
Bake for 30-35 min. until the cake is baked trough (check by inserting a wooden stick, if it comes out dry, the cake is ready).