Is there any Winter fruit more beautiful than Persimmon?
Especially the Hachiya persimmons; the heart-shaped flame colored fruit hangs heavy on thin black branches with giant hot copper leaves to protect them from the elements. And yet, people just don’t know what to do with these beauties! I’ve watched my next door neighbor auction off his Hachiyas to anyone and everyone that passes by – the Mail Man included!
The squat Fuyu persimmon tree that thrives two doors down from the Hachiya Neighbor, is equally heavy with eye popping orange candy. Oh how this makes my heart burn with desire, do I dare run up and grab some? I prefer the Fuyu because it’s easy to incorporate into sweet and savory dishes and it’s edible, like an apple, straight off the tree.
Yes, I know I should knock on their doors and introduce myself as the Chef next door. Ah, to be a new neighbor in a new city, and to be a little insecure about meeting and greeting. (Don’t they see me leaving in a pressed white Chef’s jacket every morning?!?!)
Thankfully my Father-in-law planted a Hachiya tree last year and he’s already reaping the benefits (and his neighbors are too because some one stripped the tree clean before he got the chance to pick the first one – the nerve!) Nonetheless, he managed to bring me a few from the tippy-top of his tree to work with. We order the Fuyus in the restaurants regularly but not the Hachiyas because they need to be extremely ripe.
The Hachiya persimmon (called Kaki in French – and they also don’t know what to do with them because I’ve seen many a French Madame admire the soft orange globes in the farmer’s markets and then move on to the poire d’anjou instead) tastes like a whole bottle of baby aspirin if you have the misfortunate to eat one that is not mushy-gushy over ripe.
In order to use the Hachiya it must be extremely soft – and this is no exaggeration. It’s got to feel like a water balloon that’s begging to be popped. Any other way and you’re going to be seriously disappointed. Even if you bake it unripe you will STILL experience the same chalky results.
My upside down Persimmon spice cake uses Fuyu slices to decorate the top and Hachiya for flavor in the cake and cream cheese frosting.
Some chef’s notes: the fuyu slices on top should be sliced thin (1/4-inch) otherwise they add too much extra moisture while baking, and the cake should be eaten within 2 days because the slices turn grey with time. A thin layer of apricot jam on the top would probably slow the oxidation process, but I prefer it rustic as pictured above .
The recipe is a genuine Spice Cake recipe which uses mostly brown sugar as opposed to just granulated. I find that the crumb in Spice Cake is denser than normal because of this. The addition of the Hachiya purée makes the dense crumb a little moister. If you desire a dry-er crumb, then leave out the Hachiya purée and just add it in the cream cheese frosting for flavor & color.
I have tried many, many spice cake recipes and the one I’ve printed below with or without the Hachiya purée is the best. This recipe is adapted from Flo Braker and I’ve added a little more baking powder than her original recipe and different spices.
So, what are your favorite persimmon recipes? Do you pass them up in the markets, or take them home and whip up something creative?
And here’s some Persimmon Lore having to do with the upcoming weather forcast which I find facsinating: Check out the Winter for 2015 with the Persimmon Lady, Melissa Bunker http://farmersalmanac.com/blog/2014/09/26/persimmon-lady-winter-2015/
- 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- Zest, from 1 orange
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup Hachiya persimmon purée divided in 1/2
- 3-4 large Fuyu persimmons sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
- Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 ounces softened cream cheese
- 8 ounces, 1 stick softened butter
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- The remaining 1/2 cup persimmon puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
For Spice Cake: Preheat oven to 350˚F and adjust rack to the lower third. Butter two 8"x 2"cake pans and cut out parchment to line the bottoms of each. Butter & flour the parchment top and the entire pan for one tin For the second butter the parchment and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar over and dot with 1 pat of butter, then overlay Fuyu persimmon slices as pictured above. This will create a little pan caramel on the bottom that will give the Fuyu slices a little glaze.
Sift the flour spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of wax paper. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth. Add the light brown sugar & granulated sugar and cream together with the butter until light and fluffy and doubled in volume, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla, persimmon purée, and orange zest and beat just until incorporated, 30 seconds. Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the bowl down as necessary. Beat just until smooth and do not overmix.
Divide the batter equally between the two pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cakes begin to shrink from the sides and an inserted toothpick comes out completely clean. If you take this cake out beforehand – it will fall – it's very important that the inserted toothpick come out dry. Invert cakes carefully onto cooling racks once baked and remove the parchment paper. Allow cakes to cool completely before icing.
Persimmon Cream Cheese frosting: Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on low speed, gradually adding butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, persimmon purée and lemon zest and beat just until combined. Arrange the spice cake (the one without the persimmon slices on top) onto a cake stand or plate. Slather Cream Cheese frosting on top and carefully place the other cake on top with slices facing up.
Persimmon Purée: simply scoop out ripe flesh from a Hachiya persimmon and blend quickly in a blender until pulverized.