"" What's She Eating Now?: Persimmon Bread

Monday, December 7, 2009

Persimmon Bread

Dan's mom had been calling every day. "Did you get the package I sent?" But in Romanian. Finally it arrived. A rather large box. As Dan carried it into the apartment, I prayed it was not more sweaters for him with sleeves that are way too short. Somehow my power of positive attraction worked. It was instead a box full of persimmons, which had made their way from a tree in her backyard to us via the slowest shipping option available from the US Postal Service. They needed to be eaten fast.

So fast that I neglected to take photos of this unusual parcel. I did not pass Go, did not collect $200, and went straight for this recipe from David Lebovitz, which had been adapted from James Beard's Beard on Bread, which I then adapted some more (see below). I made alterations less because I doubt David Lebovitz's kitchen prowess, and more because my pantry supply required some substitutions, which I think actually turned out well.

But before we get down to cooking, I think its worth describing what a persimmon is. A persimmon is a fall/winter fruit that primarily grows in two varieties: the Hachiya and the Fuyu. The Hachiya are heart shaped and can only be eaten when they are very ripe and almost squishy. They Fuyu look like a tomato but orange, and with a density closer to a barely ripe nectarine. When ripe one can eat them like an apple, but expect a taste closer to papaya. It is a very complex fruit. Now that we have met the star of this dish, let's bake!

Persimmon Bread, via James Beard via David Lebovitz
Makes two 9-inch loaves

Ingredients (my notes in italics):
  • 3½ cups sifted flour
  • 1½ teaspoons salt (I would measure on the generous side here)
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (My nutmeg didn't have the smell I was hoping for so used half nutmeg and half all spice and measured generously)
  • 2 to 2½ cups sugar (I ran out of sugar, gasp!, so used just under 2 cups of white and just under a half cup of brown, maybe 2 1/4 cups total. More sugar makes for greater moisture in addition to more sweetness)
  • 1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature (nothing says holidays like two sticks of butter!)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup Cognac, bourbon or whiskey (I used the remainer of a bottle of Maker's Mark and topped up with a random bottle of Crown Royal I found stashed away. Should I be concerned that Dan is stashing away whino-sized bottles of Canadian whiskey?)
  • 2 cups persimmon puree (Lebovitz recommends the Hachiya variety, I used FuyuThe flavor is slightly less sweet which is why I used a heavy hand with the sugar and they are also smaller so you'll need many more of them to make 2 cups of purreeIf you use Hachiya, they must be very ripe as this type is not edible otherwise. I peeled the Fuyus with a peeler, cut off the tops, quartered, cut out any core-like bits, and pureed with a hand blender)
  • 2 cups walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (I used walnuts which I broke into bits, did not toast)
  • 2 cups raisins, or diced dried fruits (such as apricots, cranberries, or dates) (I used apricots which I cut into small pieces)


  •  Butter 2 loaf pans. Line the bottoms with a piece of parchment paper or dust with flour and tap out any excess. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. (I don't own a sifter so just mixed them together and tapped the bowl a bit
  • Make a well in the center then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree then the nuts and raisins. (My well was sort of pitiful, I don't think this bit is critical though as long as you stir thoroughly)
  • Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Storage: Will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped, at room temperature. The Persimmon Breads take well to being frozen, too.

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