There is a season for everything and November is peak season for persimmons. There are many varieties of persimmons but generally there are three types:
- Astringent: This variety is unpleasantly astringent and bitter due to the high levels of soluble tannins; therefore, they must be left to ripen (becomes soft and mushy to the touch) before consumption. It’s best to cut them in half and scoop out the soft flesh with a spoon. Hachiya (longer, heart-shaped) is the most common.
- Non-Astringent: This squat, tomato-shaped variety is edible, sweet, and crunchy at any stage of orange. The fiber-rich skin can be eaten or peeled. Fuyu is the most common.
- Pollination-variant, Non-Astringent: This is an uncommon variety that once pollinated, the flesh turns brown or cinnamon in color. Tsurunoko (“Chocolate Persimmon”), Maru (“Cinnamon Persimmon”), and Hyakume (“Brown Sugar”) are the most common.
As luck would have it, my Mother’s friend has several trees of two varieties on their property: Fuyu (non-astringent) and Hachiya (astringent).
My mother specifically instructed me to essentially ignore the Hachiya fruits until they appear ripe to the point that they look bad. 🙂 So, I did and these felt like mush and extremely soft to the touch. I simply halved the ripe Hachiyas and scooped out all the soft pulp into a freezer-friendly glass container and used what I needed; the remaining pulp was frozen for later use.
Here is the cake recipe I used to make a delicious Persimmon Cake with Cream Cheese Icing, courtesy of Epicurious. It was such a hit with my friends and family that I will be making it again! 🙂
- 3/4 cup dried currants (I didn’t have any)
- 1/4 cup brandy or whiskey (I didn’t have any)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter ~ melted
- 1 1/2 cups persimmon purée (NOTE: This pulp freezes quite well)
- 3 large eggs ~ room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans, toasted and finely chopped (I used ground almonds, purchased from Whole Foods)
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon salted butter ~ room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar ~ sifted
- 4-5 teaspoons water
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Coat a 10-cup (2.5-liter) Bundt cake or tube pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
- To make the cake, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the currants and brandy or whiskey to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let cool.
- Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Stir in the granulated sugar. In a medium bowl, mix together the 3/4 cup (6 ounces/170 g) melted butter, persimmon purée, eggs, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add the persimmon mixture, and gently stir. Fold in the currants, along with any unabsorbed liquid, and the nuts. Mix just until everything is moistened; don’t overmix.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Once cool, invert the cake onto a serving plate.
- To make the icing, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and 1 tablespoon butter on high speed until smooth. Beat in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and the lemon juice, then gradually add the powdered sugar, beating on high speed until smooth. Add the 4 teaspoons water; the icing should be pourable. If necessary, add 1 more teaspoon water.
- Spoon the icing around the top of the cake, then tap the plate on a folded kitchen towel on the countertop to encourage the icing to run down the sides of the cake.