Anyone recognize the locale of this particular Pelaluma Persimmon tree?
Persimmons are the most spectacular fruit jewels hanging like little orange orbs on bare branches set against a SoCo baby blue winter's sky. Treasures to look at, they're a little tricky to cook with, though properly prepared in salads and desserts, they really are delicious.
I haven't had much luck with my persimmon experiments on the whole, so I came close to rejecting my neighbor Merle's doorstep gifting of a double handful of four, almost ripe Hachiya varietals, picked from a friend of hers' tree.
My mother taught me not to look a gift horse in the mouth. And remembering her sage advice (coupled with the rarity of my ever actually say 'no') I threw a little caution to the wind and retracted my polite rejection of Merle's offering on her tip to set them on the countertop and wait until they'd practically exploded.
"Like water balloons," she'd said. "Makes the best Persimmon Bread." And so they did slowly engorge to the point of looking the other side of ripe. I duly undertook a little on-line sleuthing for a recipe that appealed and liked the sound of an adaptation of a James Beard bread, by Paris-based pro-cook and food writer David Lebovitz (who, incidentally, launched his career in the East Bay at legendary Chez Panisse). I'm in the thick of reading Luke Barr's excellent new book Provence, 1970 this month, so a Beard recipe was of optimum appeal. I fiddled around with it just a bit given my baking supplies at hand and have to say it has proved the most satisfying of festive loaves to have lounging around the kitchen counter top.
Makes two 9-inch loaves
A double adaptation - inspired by the David Lebovitz version of Beard on Bread by James Beard.
- 3½ cups of organic flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 cup of melted butter, cooled to room temperature
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2/3 cup of brandy (or whiskey)
- 2 cups of persimmon puree, squeezed from 4 very ripe Hachiya persimmons
- 2 cups of chopped pecans
- 2 cups of dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter loaf pans and line with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking soda, nutmeg and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in butter, eggs, brandy, fruit puree, pecans and cranberries.
Bake for around an hour until loaves are golden on top. Wrap & store in the pantry for up to a week, or wrap and freeze if you're not planning to slice and serve both loaves within a few days. Delicious as a winter season brown bag lunch treat, as a morning coffee nibble or with afternoon tea! The Brits and Aussies would slather a generous spread of butter and jam on top of each slice, but I rarely see anyone indulge with fruit breads this way here in California. Feeling a bit decadent this festive season? I say, go for the jam as an added bonus.