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Persimmons: A Seasonal Spice Bread Recipe to Celebrate

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Persimmons: A Seasonal Spice Bread Recipe to Celebrate

December 19, 2018

As the year draws to an end with long, cozy nights, chilly days, and a sprinkling of holidays, I am drawn more and more to baking. Good smells and celebratory indulgence indoors mark the season, and a heady scent of fresh-cut fir meets you at the corner where nomadic tree sellers ply their trade.

Arranged in bright rows at greengrocers and suspended from leafless branches, persimmons are another seasonal marker that I look forward to all year. While I always freeze some of the very ripe fruit for an instant and crowd-pleasing sorbet (just cut in half and scoop), I also love to use the silky pulp in a sweet loaf, with fragrant spices that sing of Christmas.

Read on for a festive fruit loaf recipe that makes the most of this seasonal fruit. Its moist slices are versatile enough for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Photography by Marie Viljoen.

Above: When I see perfect persimmons for sale, I pounce—and buy a lot.

An easy way to keep ripe persimmons for later use is to freeze them (it’s a simple way to preserve a glut). No need to wrap them, either, as their skins protect the luscious flesh inside. For baking I remove the fruit from the freezer an hour before I start mixing (and if you are serving them as an all-natural sorbet, remove them just 10 minutes before you mean to eat them). For this loaf, simply scoop the insides out into a bowl when needed.

Above: Any ripe persimmon can be used for the persimmon spice loaf recipe below.

If you happen to find native Diospyros virginiana fruit while foraging, before processing make sure they are soft to the point of squishiness.Underripe they are tannic and they will ruin your bake. Taste to test. Use a food mill to push the ripe pulp into a bowl beneath; the skin and seeds will remain behind.

Above: If you are using pointy-bottomed  ‘Hachiya’ persimmons (with teaspoon, above), they should be gelatinously ripe; if they are not soft they will be tongue-scrubbingly tannic. Fat-bottomed ‘Fuyu’ persimmons (in the enamel dish behind) are edible and sweet when firm, but for this recipe wait until they are close to squishy, then mash their pulp so that it is smooth. You can do this by kneading the flesh hard through the skin, using your thumbs, then scooping it out. Or use a food processor (a few remaining chunks are OK).
Above: This fruit loaf is good enough to enjoy on its own, with nothing more (or less!) than good butter, or a smear of labneh or thick Greek yogurt if you prefer to temper the sweetness and load up on probiotics. But it is also a versatile vehicle for breakfast jam with coffee, slivers of good cheese at lunchtime, or toasted and topped with good pâté, chopped liver, or smoky baba ghanoush as a party appetizer.

Persimmon Spice Loaf

Makes 1 large loaf 

This yields a large, dense and moist loaf that keeps well.

Loaf

1 ½ cups ripe persimmon pulp (4-5  ‘Fuyu’ or 3-4 ‘Hachiya’, depending on size)
1 ¼ cups sugar
½ cup melted unsalted butter
3 large eggs
¼ cup natural yogurt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda

Optional topping

1 tablespoon fir sugar (or mix 1 tablespoon sugar with powdered ginger, or a pinch of cloves)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

Butter a loaf pan (5.5 by 10.5 inches).

In a large bowl, combine the persimmon pulp, sugar, melted butter, eggs, yogurt, spices, and salt. Beat them together until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir these into the wet mixture with a spoon, using as few motions as necessary. Transfer the batter to the buttered pan, sprinkle the sugar topping across the batter (if using), and slide into the oven.

Bake for 70 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted fully into the thickest part comes out clean. Gently tip the loaf from the baking pan and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Happy holidays!

For more of our favorite holiday fare, see our archive of Plant Based Diet Recipes, including:

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