persimmon cake

A friend of mine gave me some advice via g-chat last week:

Her: Alex, it’s boomerang time.

Me: No idea what that means.

Her: Throw her out into the wild and see if she comes back.  Sometimes they come back when you wish they’d get stuck in a tree branch.   

Advice so solid that, after I’d picked myself up off my office floor from laughing, I felt compelled to inscribe on a post-it note and stick to my desk.  Perhaps I should have stuck it to my head?

Post-it note prophesies: a window into my single life these days.

While I have clearly not solved the dating riddle, I have finally got persimmons figured out. Another clear benefit of my recent 3000 mile move.  Here it is:  There are two types of persimmons, Fuyu and Hitachi.  Fuyu are the non-astringent ones, and they tend to be squatter and lighter in color, though not always.  They’re meant to be eaten crunchy-ish, like an apple.  Hitachi are the horribly astringent ones (read: unripened, they taste like biting into a bar of soap), longer and tapered in shape and darker orange.  To eat a Hitachi persimmon it must be dripping ripe, so soft it barely holds together.  The Fuyu’s soften slightly as they ripen, but never reach the water-balloon stage that the Hitachis do.

It’s the beginning of persimmons and pomegranate season here in California.  At work, we’ve been buying case after delicious case from Kaki Farms in Gridley, CA.  And because I never know when to stop (ugh), I’ve been buying both by the pound at home too.

Fruit excess at least is a handy excuse for baking.  In this case, I set out with visions of carrot cake turned persimmon: spice scented, served with apple cider, and ready for fall, but wound up with something that might be more at home on the Christmas table. Topping things off with creme fraiche and sparkly red pomegranate seeds clearly didn’t help matters.

But instead of throwing this one out in the wild, and forgetting about it a few months later, I thought I’d go ahead and share now.  Dense, super-moist, not overly sweet, and fragrant with cocoa, warm spices, and whiskey, the recipe was heavily adapted from David Lebovitz’s persimmon cake recipe here, and inspired by Nigel Slater’s chocolate beet cake here.  If you like your sweets sweeter, substitute the creme fraiche topping with cream cheese frosting.

One Year Ago: (my adaption of) Martha’s Mac ‘n Cheese.

Two Years Ago: Cecilia’s Wedding Cake – Part I and Part II.

Makes one 9 inch cake and serves 8-10.

Persimmon Cake

  • ½ cup dried currants
  • 3 tbsp whisky (or use brandy if that’s what you have on hand)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch salt
  • ¾ cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup peeled and grated Fuyu persimmons, well packed
  • 1 small tub crème fraiche
  • Pomegranate seeds for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 inch spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine the currants and the whisky or brandy in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, immediately remove from the heat, cover, and set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soad, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

In another small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter, and vanilla extract.

Pour the butter-egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine.  Fold in the persimmons and currants along with any whiskey/brandy not absorbed.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes until set and a tooth pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool completely, then frost with crème fraiche and decorate with pomegranate seeds.  Serve immediately – the crème fraiche will begin to discolor after a few hours on the cake.  Unfrosted, the cake keeps well wrapped 2-3 days at room temperature.

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