Falling for Persimmons and a Teacake Recipe


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 cake

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.

persimmon cake

Banana Coconut Bread

~ Banana Coconut Bread ~

In the mood for a pre-packaged healthy snack? Or how about a slice of quick bread to accompany a cup of tea? Look no further than the ubiquitous banana. All zipped up in its own skin (which doubles as a nifty handle) the banana is transportable as a nutritious snack on the go – naturally sweet and rich in potassium, magnesium, B and C vitamins. As bananas ripen, they soften and their sugar content and starch increases. At this point, blend the fruit  into a wholesome sweet bread or cake – or pop them un-peeled into the freezer to save for the proverbial rainy day when baking is requisite.

I prefer to eat bananas just under-ripe, while they are still firm and not overwhelmingly sweet. When they reach the mushy tipping point I toss them into a banana bread. While the ratios for my banana bread remain the same, I sometimes fiddle with the ingredients. This is a heartier recipe with a blend of whole wheat, all-purpose flour and a dusting of wheat germ. Coconut flakes add texture and a tropical brightness. If I were feeling naughtier, I would have added chocolate chunks, but somehow I managed to behave myself. How do you prefer your bananas?

Banana Coconut Bread

Makes one large loaf.

3 large very ripe bananas
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, plus extra for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Butter a loaf pan, line with parchment, and butter the parchment.
Mix the bananas and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Mix in the eggs until blended, and then mix in the oil, vanilla, and cinnamon until just combined.
Whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until just combined. Stir in the coconut.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle additional coconut on the top. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes clean, about 55 minutes. If the cake is golden brown on top and still not entirely cooked, loosely cover with foil and continue to bake, checking every 10 minutes until done.
Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove the bread from loaf pan and cool completely.

Pumpkin Pecan Spice Bread

Pumpkin Spice Bread tf

This pumpkin bread is a lightly sweet and mellow loaf, redolent with pumpkin and spice. This toothsome cake bread is studded with raisins and pecans, adding natural sweetness and heartiness to each mouthful. It’s delicious for breakfast or in the afternoon with a cup of tea. Either pumpkin or butternut squash may be used for the purée; their orange flesh will add a rich, buttery note and lend a vibrant hue that is necessary for this autumn staple.

Pumpkin Pecan Spice Bread

I prefer to make my own pumpkin purée, but canned will do. To make your own, simply cut a skinned and seeded sweet pumpkin or butternut squash into 1 inch cubes. (You will need about 2 cups to yield one generous cup of purée.) Steam until very soft and then mash with a fork.

Makes one loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup puréed pumpkin
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Butter a loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a medium bowl; whisk together and set aside. Whisk the brown sugar and eggs together in a large bowl. Stir in butter. Add the pumpkin and blend thoroughly. Stir in the dry ingredients. Add the raisins and pecans. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake in oven until knife inserted in center comes clean, about 1 hour.

Banana Cake

Banana Cake

Tried and true, a banana cake (or bread, depending on your perspective) has figured prominently in our home as a baked treat.  The kids love it, as do the adults, and in every country we have lived, bananas have been readily available in the markets.  I have made variations over the years, adding wheat germ and oats for added fiber and nutrients, coconut for a tropical twist, even chocolate for those cravings of, well, chocolate. This recipe is the base recipe I rely on and come back to time and again.  It’s moist, not overly sweet, and keeps in the refrigerator for 4 days.  Actually, that’s a guess, because it never lasts that long.

Banana Cake
Makes one loaf

3/4 cup (150 g.) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (150 g.) light brown sugar
3 eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1/3 cup (80 ml.) sour cream or Greek-style whole milk yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups (220 g.) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)
Butter a loaf pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
Beat butter and sugar until they are light and creamy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Mix in bananas, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Add to bananas and stir to combine well.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.  Bake in oven until knife comes clean, about one hour.  Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from pan.

Try these variations:

Tropical Twist: Add 1/2 cup flaked, unsweetened coconut to dry ingredients.  Sprinkle additional tablespoon coconut on top of cake before baking.

More Fiber: Reduce flour to 1 3/4 cups.  Add 1/2 cup oats and 2 tablespoons wheat germ to dry ingredients.

Chocolate Boost: Add 1 cup dark chocolate chips to batter before pouring into loaf pan.