I decided not to go home for the holidays this year. We just purchased a home and (hopefully!) will be engaged soon, plus I’m gone most of January, so back in November it seemed like the right decision not to go. But now, in the belly of December, amidst the tidings of holiday cheer, I am unexpectedly, miserably homesick.
Since I’m not going there, I am making the food come to me. My mom made this bread for Christmas dinner last year and it was amazing. Because of the persimmons it wasn’t a recipe I would have thought to make, but I am so happy that she did and I learned about a new fruit.
Makes me wonder what other fabulous recipes I’m missing out on because they don’t contain the normal ingredients I buy. If you’ve never had or worked with a persimmon before, don’t worry, me neither. It’s a cinch, though, and they are in season right now so will probably be available at your produce shop.
I was lucky to find ripe persimmons at Whole Foods. If they are not ripe at the store they will surely ripen on your countertop, but you’ll have to wait a few days to bake the bread.
You want the persimmons to be heavy and soft. If they feel overripe, they are perfect. Remove the stem, use a spoon to scoop out the soft fruit, and puree it in a blender or food processor until smooth. The persimmons I bought did not have a pit, but some do, so make sure not to blend the pit with your puree.
The combination of sweet dried fruit, persimmon puree, crunchy nuts, and spices bake up into an incredibly moist and flavorful loaf. If that doesn’t sound like enough to get you baking, the whole thing is doused in a bright and fresh orange glaze. It is fantastic.
I swapped dried cranberries for the raisins and pecans for walnuts but any combo of dried fruit and nuts you like will work. The glaze is optional but it adds a ton of flavor so I wouldn’t think to leave it off.
Lucille Ball’s Persimmon Cake
Recipe from King Arthur Flour
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each: ground cloves, ground allspice, ground nutmeg
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick, 1 ounce) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (8 1/2 ounces) persimmon pulp
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (I use almond milk)
1/2 cup raisins (I use dried cranberries)
1/2 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped walnuts (I use pecans)
1 cup (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted after measuring
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
Preheat the oven to 325. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
For the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter. Beat in the persimmon pulp, orange rind, vanilla extract, and the eggs.
Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk. Mix until combined, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix in the fruit and nuts.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, tilt out of the pan, and cool on a rack before glazing and slicing.
For the glaze: Whisk together the sugar, juice, and zest until you have a pourable glaze then drizzle over the top of the baked cake.