Sunday, November 8, 2009

Persimmon Teacake

Yesterday I was in my house thinking about cake when I heard a knock on my door. Two neighbors, Gwen and Victoria, had a fruit identification question. In her Harmony Valley fruit share, Gwen had found mysterious pinkish eggs filled with fragrant orange goo. I recognized them as passion fruit.

"Of course the neigborhood foodie would know," Gwen said. And then she persuaded me to take four persimmons, also part of the fruit share. "Blog about these!" she challenged.

The only way I know to eat persimmons is with a spoon. Grandma Rombauer notes in Joy of Cooking that they are good in cake, but she does not go so far as to include a persimmon cake recipe. Hmmph. Thanks for nothing, Granny.

Hey, I don't need her. I can make up my own persimmon cake. I think.

I know from years-ago forays into vegetarian cooking that you can substitute fruit pulp for an egg in almost any cake recipe. So I went digging through different cookbooks looking at applesauce and banana cakes. After reading a few nearly identical entries, I felt about as brave as I was going to get.

I blended up the persimmons in the food processor, and they turned into a fetching orange colloid exactly the consistency of beaten eggs.

"Hey, this is fun!" I exclaimed. Feeling quite the adventurer, I mixed up my recipe. All the applesauce cakes I researched called for a half teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and mace. I ignored the spices. I wanted to recognize the persimmon taste.

I ended up with a pretty yellow-orange batter flecked with bits of darker orange persimmon skin.

My cake turned out dense and moist. It's like a fine-textured banana bread. That lovely batter turned into a brown cake, but the soft bits of skin held their color and studded my cake like little tangerine-colored jewels.

I cut slices and dusted them with powdered sugar and the tiniest bit of cinnamon. I delivered them to the houses next door. A few minutes later, the young neighbor daughter brought back the finest praise a cook can receive: my empty plate.

I declare a success!

Persimmon Teacake

1½ c flour
¾ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 stick butter
¾ c plus 2 T sugar
1 egg
1 c puréed persimmon (about 2 to 2½ persimmons)

Preaheat your oven to 350°.

Whisk together the flour, soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour mix in three portions, alternating with the persimmon and mixing until just incorporated. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Spread the batter in a greased and floured loaf pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, remove from the pan, and cool completely.

Cut slices of cake and lay them on serving plates. Put a tablespoon of powdered sugar and a half teaspoon of cinnamon side by side in a sieve. Tap the sieve gently over the cake slices so they get dusted with the two distinct colors.