A few days ago, my husband and I escaped to Carmel. It was a brief getaway, one centered on enjoying vistas like these as we rode our bikes along the coastal route from Carmel to Pebble Beach to Monterey. Though I’ve ridden this route more times than I can remember, I still found myself stopping to take in the stunning views and tried to capture them with my camera..one more time.
Can you tell that I love being near the ocean? Rain or shine, whether hot and humid or cold and windy, it’s one of my favorite places to be. Being in the water is probably the only thing better, but the water in these parts is cold! My husband tried to teach me how to surf here a few years ago and even in a thick wetsuit I only lasted a little while. Still, the weather was just right when we visited and more than a few locals showed up to catch some wave action.
On our way home the next day, we stopped at a Moss Landing produce stand for some freshly harvested brussels sprouts (still on their stem), a bag of oranges and a couple of bags of fuyu persimmons. The latter were $1/bag–inexpensive, flavorful and the perfect snack for our drive home. Still a little firm, they were wonderful right out of the bag, skin and all.
Not to be confused with the acorn-shaped hachiya variety which must be eaten when quite ripe (they can be tart and bitter while immature), fuyu persimmons are round, squat and are edible when firm.
I find the right words elusive when trying to describe their flavor. Eaten with the skin on, they’re crisp, the meat smooth and juicy. As you chew, the experience is more like tasting the essence of something rather than being met with the more distinct flavors of, say, a watermelon or a cherry. The delicate sweetness, to me a subtle honey flavor, hits you towards the end and you are compelled to take another bite.
I’ve eaten them fresh and at times dried (sprinkled with allspice beforehand), but I’ve never baked with persimmons. But two friends, Patty of Patty’s Food and Priscilla of She’s Cookin’ have created some delicious treats out of them. Patty baked Persimmon Muffins with Chocolate Chunks, as well as Persimmon Cookies while Priscilla, equally inspired by Patty, baked these Chocolate Persimmon Muffins. How could I resist trying my hand at enjoying these orange jewels with a baked good?
I found this fuyu bundt cake recipe at the California Fuyu Growers Association’s site which I thought would be perfect to try since I also had another special ingredient to use. My dear friend Susan generously sent me a four-pound bag of Natural Extra-Fancy Mammoth Pecan Halves from Sunnyland Farms in Albany, Georgia. These pecans were exceptionally fresh and sweet; I just had to use them in place of the walnuts that were called for in the recipe. I also omitted the raisins (husband not a fan) substituting a handful of chopped, dried cranberries and used allspice instead of ground cloves (none available). Lastly, since my bundt pan was too small to accommodate the batter, I had to use a cake pan but it all worked out just fine.
The cake was nicely spiced from the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice–reminiscent of a carrot cake. It was nutty from the sweet pecans with some chewy notes from the dried cranberries that I added. This recipe was wonderful as-is but I was inspired to take the extra step of creating a glaze. I borrowed Tyler Florence’s recipe here but halved it and added the juice of half a lemon. And rather than topping the entire cake (which I sprinked with powdered sugar so you can see the fun details of the cake mold) with the glaze, I used it as a sauce to dress up the sliced pieces as I served them. Not a bad addition if I may say so myself! Next time, I might try this with cream-cheese frosting. I can almost taste it now…
Fuyu Persimmon Cake with Orange-Lemon Glaze
For the cake:
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3 cups chopped, firm fuyu persimmons
- 1/2 cup soft butter
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves (I used equal amount allspice)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
- 3/4 cup raisins (I used a handful of chopped, dried cranberries)
Grease and flour a cake pan and preheat your oven to 350ºF. Stir the baking soda into the chopped persimmons and set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, lemon juice and vanilla extract and beat until fluffy. Stir in the fuyu mixture.
Sift together the dry ingredients and stir into the fuyu mixture just until blended. Add the nuts and raisins (or cranberries if you prefer).
Pour into the cake pan and bake for 55-60 minutes. Note: I always use the convection feature of my oven so my cake was done in 45 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and continue to cool on wire rack.
For the glaze (I halved the original recipe):
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 orange, juiced and zested
- juice of half a lemon
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and place over a double boiler. Cook until the butter and sugar are melted and the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and whisk until smooth and cooled down slightly. Drizzle over the cake slices.