I discovered persimmons when I lived in Europe, where they are commonly known as sharon fruit. They were a mystery to me at first, these orange tomato-like creatures – how to eat them? Skin or no skin? I quickly learned to enjoy persimmons in their entirety, with their taught crisp skin giving way to dribbling soft, honey-sweet flesh. Now I live in California, where persimmon trees grow in our garden, their globe-shaped fruit dangling from the branches, stubbornly holding on long after the leaves have fallen, resembling neglected Christmas ornaments. At this time of the year, while the leaves are still intact, the persimmon trees are at their prettiest. The fruit is continuing to ripen, and their pumpkin orange skin is striated in golds and pale greens, while the robust leaves are streaked in crimson.
There are two types of persimmons: the round squat fuyu and the more upright heart-shaped hachiya. The hachiya must be eaten at its ripest, which means incredibly squishy, to avoid its astringent unripened flesh. It’s best to enjoy an hachiya as a big juicy slurp with a napkin in hand, or blending its pulp into baked goods. Unlike the hachiya, the fuyu is not astringent, so it may be eaten firm or soft. I enjoy the firmness of fuyus when their consistency is similar to a crisp pear. In this stage they hold their shape well and have a gentle sweetness, which makes them a great addition to salads and salsas. The firm fuyu fruit can also be grated and mixed into baked goods – such as in this teacake.
Persimmon Olive Oil Teacake
The sweet and mild persimmon adds a gentle honey perfume to this cake.
Makes 1 loaf
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely grated fuyu persimmon, packed, about 2 persimmons
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter or oil a loaf pan.
Whisk the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
In large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars until light and fluffy, then whisk in the oil and vanilla. Add the flour ingredients and stir to just combine. Stir in the persimmon and walnuts.
Pour into the baking pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean, about one hour, depending on the shape of the pan. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature.