I love persimmons and the feeling only deepens as their long cold-weather season continues. No matter how many I bring home, whether we eat them outright or in pound cake, cookies, pies or persimmon pudding, I keep wanting more. My latest adventure is starring this uniquely lovely fruit in an old-time favorite, upside-down cake.The two kinds of persimmons widely available in grocery stores and farmers markets are fuyu and hachiya. Fuyus are plump and squat, very similar in shape and size to tomatoes, and firm even when they are ripe and ready to eat. Here’s a big display of fuyus, which seem to be more widely available than the larger, oval-shaped hachiya persimmons.For this recipe, I cored three plump fuyu persimmons, cutting away their stem portions which are lovely and quite dry this time of year. Then I sliced off the blossom ends and peeled all the thin skin using a vegetable peeler; you can use a knife as well, peeling as you would peel an apple. Then I sliced the fruit into thick rounds and placed these in a round baking pan over melted butter and brown sugar — standard procedure for upside-down cakes.I decided to fill in the gaps to get as much persimmon in the cake as possible — though you could leave the gaps as is typical of pineapple upside down cakes with rings of pineapple and maraschino cherries for punctuation. My inspiration for this is a recipe from the lovely blog “Oh Sweet Day!”, which includes a most tantalizing photo and recipe for Banana Upside Down Cake. Haven’t tried that one yet though I am captivated by the idea, but I decided that if bananas work, persimmons would too, and I followed her recipe, using almond extract instead of vanilla, and adding a little nutmeg and ginger in the cake to bring out persimmon’s unique wintry aspect. The persimmons deepened in color through the baking, and retained a pleasing, firm texture after baking. I removed the cake from the pan after letting it rest for 10 – 12 minutes, so that it would still be warm enough to release the fruity topping. If a few pieces of persimmon stick to the pan, simply set them in place like a puzzle piece. The cake itself is quite tall, so using a deep cake pan with tall sides is ideal. Or consider using a spring form or cheesecake pan, which allows for the cake to rise quite a bit.
If you need to use a 1-inch or 2-inch tall cake pan, you’ll have batter left over, which you can simply bake in muffin tins for tiny cakes, or a loaf pan. It’s a wonderful moist cake, which I will bake again. Enjoy this cake with whipped cream or with ice cream for some extra lusciousness; or as is — it’s simple and so pleasing, another way to enjoy persimmons while we have them handy.
- 3 or 4 fuyu persimmons
- 2 sticks butter, divided use (1 cup)
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Set out a deep 9-inch baking pan (or use a spring-form pan)
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Use a fork to mix them well, and set aside.
- Prepare the persimmons, coring each one and slicing off the bottom section thinly. Peel away the skin and then slice crosswise into thick rounds. Reserve the chunky pieces for salads or eat them out of hand. Set aside while you prepare the pan.
- Place one stick of butter (1/2 cup), in the baking pan, setting aside the other stick of butter for use in the cake.
- Add the brown sugar to the baking pan along with the butter, and place in the oven to melt the butter
- When butter is melted, remove the hot pan and swirl to coat the pan evenly and well.
- Use a spoon to mix the brown sugar and butter well.
- Arrange the slices of persimmon over the brown sugar-butter mixture in the pan, making a pleasing pattern.
- Fill in the spaces with pieces of persimmon; and set aside while you make the cake batter.
- To make the cake, combine the remaining stick of butter (1/.2 cup) in a large bowl with the sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl, until they are very well combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the almond extract and beat well.
- Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately: 1/3 of the flour, beating just till it is mostly mixed in. Then half the milk, beating just till it disappears.
- Another third of the flour, rest of the milk, and rest of the flour.
- Beat just enough each time, don't over-beat at this point.
- Finish up by hand, making a smooth batter and pouring it into the pan careffully, covering the persimmons gently.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the 350 degree oven, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let the cake rest for a bit so that it cools slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Then turn the cake out onto a serving platter, after loosening the sides gently.
- Serve at room temperature, with ice cream or whipped cream if possible.