Jutta’s Plum Kuchen

by Min Merrell

My grandma’s plum kuchen recipe was the inspiration for the easy fruit coffee cake that appeared on the Martha White Self-Rising Flour bag for years. I made this one in a springform pan.

A pile of lovely purple-black prune plums at the supermarket in September always gets me thinking about my grandmother Jutta’s plum kuchen. It’s a simple little coffee cake topped with fresh plums that we looked forward to in the late summer. I remember as a kid driving with my little grandmother across the desert with a warm kuchen on the back seat of her big  Ford LTD on our way to visit my Aunt Betty’s ranch outside of Carlsbad, NM. When we got there, Betty had hot coffee and fresh milk she’d processed through the portable pasteurizer ready to go. It was fun.

Years later, during my Martha White test kitchen days, Jutta’s plum kuchen was the inspiration for a recipe we developed that appeared on the five-pound bag of self-rising flour for many years. Unfortunately, it was unglamorously named Easy Fruit Coffee Cake. Now, that’s giving a good recipe the big sell!

This recipe isn’t much different than the famous Marion Burros Plum Tart recipe that appeared in the New York Times every fall for years.  Except, of course, I use self-rising flour.  You can make my recipe in a springform pan as well instead of a 9 x 13.  I don’t think my grandma had a springform pan.

Anyway, the kuchen is a handy little recipe and yet another great reason to have a bag of self-rising flour in the pantry. It’s really just soft, sweet biscuit dough spread in a baking pan and topped with rows of sweetened fresh fruit slices. The prune plums seemed way too exotic at the time for the typical Martha White customer (and no one knew how to pronounce “KOOK-in”), so we did variations with other fruits, too—nectarines, pears, apples. You can change it up and use what’s in season. Most folks probably don’t think about the origin of a recipe on some corporate food package. It really could be straight from the files of some crazy home economist’s grandmother like me.

Here’s my grandma Jutta’s recipe for Raisin Cookies. R.B. keeps them in the freezer and when we need a little something sweet, he heats them up in the toaster oven. Sometimes he’ll even plop a dollop of peanut butter on top and sprinkle the whole thing with a little salt. Oh my!


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