Friday, November 20, 2009

Persimmon Bread, Anyone?

Two and a half weeks ago, I went to the farmers' market in Silver Spring, and purchased a couple of persimmons. Although I have seen pictures of persimmon, and my mother had a wooden persimmon in bowl of wooden fruit, I had never tasted a persimmon.

The farmer who sold the persimmons told me that they still needed to ripen some (they were rock-like), and I looked up persimmons on the web, and found out all kinds of interesting information, such as they usually ripen and fall off the trees, then they are harvested. They are not usually picked from the tree. They are also supposed to be very soft before you cook them or eat them. Because my persimmons were granitic at the time, I was just thinking that I had made an uneducated consumer's purchase.

So I let them sit for a long time. The fruit's bright orange color nicely set off the bananas and mangoes on top of the microwave (the only place to ripen fruit in our kitchen). Each day, I'd lightly squeeze them, much like the witch probably squeezed Hansel, and for the same reasons. Finally, yesterday they reached the point where I figured they would be ripe enough.

I rinsed them off, cut them into eighths, and poached them in a small amount of water for about 10 minutes. After that dirty deed was done, I ran the persimmons through a food mill, and ended up with about two cups of pulp.

That solved the problem of what to do with the persimmons, but only created another problem: what to do with the persimmon pulp. If you type "persimmon pulp" into a search engine, you get all kinds of weird processes on how to make persimmon pulp - like squeezing persimmons with nylon stockings. Next, I typed in persimmon cake, and that was a little more productive. It seems like the good people of Indiana eat, drink, and bathe in persimmon pulp, and the rest is turned into cake. Who knew?

I couldn't find a persimmon cake recipe that I could use. They all required far more pulp than I had cranked out of my two persimmons. The fallback recipe for any quick bread is banana bread, so I searched for a banana bread, and used it to make my persimmon cake. I have a KitchenAid mixer in the basement, because it's too big to stay on the kitchen shelf. I lugged it up to the kitchen, and proceeded to make my persimmon cake.

Using a KitchenAid is sexy - smooth lines, a sleek enameled body to fall in love with. So making this cake was a labor of love, as well as an excuse to mess up the kitchen. The banana cake recipe said that the preparation time was ten minutes. Forty minutes later I was scraping the bowl to shepherd the last clinging strands of batter into the loaf pan for baking. Maybe I've lost my touch in the kitchen.

And sixty-five minutes later, a golden persimmon cake emerged from the oven. Ron inquired whether I was making the cake for some occasion, or whether it was for us. We had some after dinner, and it tastes pretty good. In fact, I'm having a piece right now.