The persimmon is a sublime, ephemeral treat, its pulp like slightly bitter custard with a hint of cinnamon.
To taste a persimmon at its best, the tomato-shaped fruit must be allowed to fully ripen (otherwise the unripe flesh tastes like freshly tanned leather).
A ripe persimmon should be deep orange in color, heavy for its size and soft to the touch like a very ripe tomato.
To speed up ripening, place the persimmon in a plastic or paper bag with an apple or banana. This cake, a cross between figgy pudding and a fruitcake, is a great way to use the fruit.
For the cake
2 cups raisins
¾ cup brandy
Butter and flour for greasing pan
2 cups ripe persimmon pulp
(peeled and seeded,
about 4 or 5 persimmons)
2½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ pound pecans, coarsely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
2 egg whites
For the brandy whipped cream
1 cup whipping cream
1 to 2 tablespoons reserved brandy
from soaking the raisins
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Soak the raisins overnight in the brandy.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a Bundt pan, then chill the pan in the refrigerator.
- Peel and seed the persimmons. Chop the fruit into chunks.
- In a food processor, pulse/chop the persimmon pulp together with all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar, plus the softened butter and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, combine the coarsely chopped pecans and saturated raisins (save a tablespoon or two of the unabsorbed brandy for the flavored whipped cream) together with the all-purpose flour, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.
- With a rubber spatula, combine the dry ingredients together with the persimmon mixture. Fold the cream and milk into the batter.
- Whip the egg whites together with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar to form a soft meringue. Fold the meringue into the batter.
- Pour the batter evenly into the Bundt pan. Bake for an hour to 75 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean and the cake begins to separate from the pan. Turn the cake out onto a rack to cool. Allow to cool for 1 hour. Serve with whipped cream flavored with leftover brandy and confectioners’ sugar.
- Make the brandied whip cream. Whip the cream on medium speed. When it is about halfway to forming stiff peaks, add the brandy and powdered sugar. Whip just to stiff peaks—do not overwork.