Rosh Hashanah isn’t just a time to eat apples and honey. It’s also a time to eat pomegranates, dates, or any new fruit of the season. For me, one of the holiday’s gastronomic highlights has always involved another new fruit: Italian plums—also known as Zwetschge in German or quetsch in French, and available in our markets for just a short time every fall. These plums are the ones that morph into prunes when dried, but they’re also terrific in a pie, turning pinkish purple when cooked.
When I was growing up, my family concluded our Rosh Hashanah meal with Zwetschgenkuchen, or Italian plum tart, using a recipe from my father’s family, which hailed from southern Germany. It’s made from muerbeteig, a buttery crumbly crust, slathered with jam before the sliced oval plums are carefully spiraled one by one atop the crust and baked. (Recipe here.)
This time of the year, when Italian plums are in season, is the perfect time to make this dessert for your holiday feast. You can even make a few extra pies, like I do, and freeze them to use throughout the coming year, when the plums aren’t available.
Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.