I came home after Thanksgiving with a bag of persimmons from my parents’ garden. As my father pointed out to me, these were fairly small fruits and still hard at the time, so I’d have to wait for them to soften up before I could eat them. If you’ve ever bitten into an under-ripe Hachiya persimmon, you know why: The astringent taste will make the inside of your mouth feel like it’s coated with a bitter fur, and you’ll never want to eat one again. You have to wait until the fruit is practically turning to mush before you can be sure it’s ripe, but when it is ripe, it’s rich and sweet–the candy of fruits.
So I put my persimmons on the counter and waited. And waited. After a couple of weeks had passed and only two or three fruits had ripened (and been eaten right away), I did what you have to do to make all the fruits ripen at once. I put them in a plastic bag with a ripe apple. Within 2 days the gases from the apple had ripened all the persimmons and they were ready to become dessert.
So, I made a fruit cake–not the kind of fruit cake my mother used to make at this time of year, full of artificially colored dried fruit and soaked in bourbon. I combined persimmons with apples because they taste great together and they’re both in season this time of year, but feel free to try other types of fruit, adjusting the agave nectar as necessary. Persimmons are very sweet, so you may need a little more sweetener if you substitute, say, bananas or mango. (But then it would be a Tropical Fruit Cake!)
Fall Harvest Fruit Cake (Persimmon-Apple Cake)
- 3/4 cup ripe persimmon pulp
- 1 large apple
- 1/8 cup agave nectar
- 1/8 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup soy yogurt or apple sauce
- Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a 8- or 9-inch baking dish or cake pan. (I used a round silicone cake pan.)
- Remove the skin from the persimmons along with any seeds. Mash pulp and measure. Peel the apple and chop into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Place the apple into a saucepan along with the 1/8 cup agave nectar, water, cinnamon, and ginger.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until the apple softens, about 10 minutes. Add the persimmon and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a large measuring cup or small bowl, mix together the water, orange juice, 1/2 cup agave nectar, cider vinegar, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ones along with the soy yogurt or apple sauce. Stir until well-moistened. Fold in apple mixture.
- Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.
Looking for more information about persimmons? Check out my previous persimmon recipes: