If you've never eaten a persimmon, they're in supermarkets for a short time only, so give them a try before the season is over. There are many varieties of persimmons, and they fall into either the "astringent" variety, like Hachiya persimmons, or the "non astringent" variety, like the Fuju. Persimmons taste sweet and delicious when perfectly ripe, but if you bite into one before it's nearly mushy, you're likely to get a chalky taste that will make your mouth pucker.
Persimmon trees are commonly grown throughout Italy, and are very popular in Asian countries like China, Korea and Japan. Here in New Jersey, however, it's unusual to find someone growing a persimmon tree, and if you do, it's a good guess their ancestry is Italian, like my friends Eleanor and Anna. Each year they're kind enough to supply me with some persimmons from their tree.
This year I thought I'd make a cake with them.
I searched the internet and came across many recipes, but the one on the website "Andrea's Recipes," using dates and with a lemon glaze, looked particularly enticing. It proved to be every bit as delicious as I had hoped. If you decide to make it, let me warn you that my basket of persimmons did not ripen all at the same time. As each one ripened, I squished it down and put the pulp into a container and froze it. When I had enough of the pulp collected (it took about six persimmons to make two cups worth), I thawed out the pulp and proceeded with the recipe. It's worth the effort, believe me.
Spiced Persimmon Cake With Dates and Lemon Glaze
(printable recipe here)
Makes 1 large Bundt cake.
medium mesh strainer
stand mixer with paddle attachment
12-cup Bundt pan, greased and floured
fine mesh strainer
- PERSIMMON PUREE
- 1-1/2 to 2 pounds common persimmons, less if you use Hachiya or Fuyu persimmons (enough to make 2 cups of puree)
- 2 sticks (1/2 pound/227 g) unsalted butter
- 2 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups (240 ml) persimmon puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups (360 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup (125 g) chopped dates or golden raisins (I used dates, but soaked them in 1/2 cup rum until they absorbed some of the liquid)
- 1 cup chopped pecans, optional
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup (130 g) powdered sugar, sifted
- Preheat the oven to 325° F/165° C. Set rack in the middle of the oven.
- PERSIMMON PUREE: Rinse the persimmons and remove the brown or green calyx. Place the strainer over the 2-quart bowl. One at a time, place a persimmon in the strainer and press down hard with the spatula. Press and move the spatula around, forcing the pulp through the mesh. Remove the seeds and skin and continue with the remaining persimmons. (Note: This can take a while when using small persimmons, so plan for it.)
- In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until it it light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well each time. Add the persimmon puree and vanilla extract, and mix well.
- In the medium bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture and stir gently, tossing in the chopped dates. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, checking every 5 minutes after 1 hour has passed. When a tester comes out dry with just a few crumbs clinging, remove the pan from the oven. If the tester has no crumbs the cake will be dry.
- Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
- MAKE THE GLAZE: While the cake is cooling, whisk together the the powdered sugar and lemon juice until the glaze is smooth.
- Pour the glaze over the cake while warm. Allow to cool completely, then slice and serve.