Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Persimmon Nut Bread

Mini Persimmon Bread Cut in Half
Bundtlette Style Bread

Recipe by Robin

According to Wikipedia, China produces over 71% of the world’s persimmons, measured in tons. Oddly enough, the Hachiya persimmons are ripening late this season in California, and the Lunar  New Year is early.  So this year, by coincidence, synchronicity, or persimmon whimsy, we can enjoy fresh persimmon goodies for Chinese New Year on January 23. It’s the Year of the Dragon, a most auspicious year and cause for celebration.

Get Ingredients Together Before Mixing
Since I didn’t do my usual holiday baking in December (persimmons weren’t ripe yet), I want to surprise my two sisters with a Lunar New Year holiday treat. If I mail tomorrow, they’ll have get them before the holiday next Monday. 

I designed this recipe for sharing--it makes a large quantity. It calls for a lot of persimmons, so is good if you have a tree. I typically fill one (small) 8” tube cake pan and a 4” x 8” bread pan. This strategy has worked in many circumstances. For example, share a tube style bread at a potluck and give your hostess the loaf for later; take one bread to a party and keep the other at home; or give the tube style bread to a family and the loaf to a single person.

Persimmons Going Into Batter
Mixing in Persimmons
This is a hearty, low-sugar bread, which features the sweet taste of golden raisins and the crunch of chopped almonds. My friend Tri just taught me that if the raisins are dry, soaking them before using them will prevent them from drawing moisture from the batter and making the cake dry. Her Mom soaked the raisins overnight in water, but I’d pour boiling water over the raisins, soak one hour, then drain, pat dry, and add to batter as usual. You can drip a simple confectioner’s sugar and orange juice glaze (1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbsp. orange juice) over this, or sprinkle on ½ tbsp. confectioner’s sugar mixed with ½ tsp. cinnamon with a sifter, or serve the cake plain. A topping is good camouflage if the cake didn’t come out of the pan quite right.

Orange Peel, Nuts, and Raisins Going into Batter
Mixing in Orange Peel, Raisins, and Almonds
The recipe makes about 8 cups of batter, which can be used in many ways. There’s a chart at that compares cup-capacities of various pans, but keep in mind that the amount of batter you’ll use in each pan will be ½ to 2/3, based on how much batter you put in the pan. For starters, I’ve compiled some other ways to subdivide the batter below. Remember if you’re making 2 muffins to fill the other muffin tins with water so they heat evenly.

  • 3 – 4” x 8” loaves: less batter per pan means they won’t rise as high
  • 2 – 4” x 8” loaves and 2 mini Bundtlette muffins (2/3 cup of batter each)
  • 1 – Bundt cake or tube cake and 6 mini Bundtlette muffins
  • 2 – 4” x 8” loaves and 2 or 3 – 3.35” x 5.75” loaves
  • 18  – 3.35” x 5.75” loaves or 2 mini Bundtlette muffins

Have fun with your own variations!

Tube Cake Style Persimmon Bread with Sugar Topping
Topping Camouflages Bread Imperfections
Persimmon Nut Bread
makes about 8 cups of batter

¾ cup butter, soft
2/3 cup light brown sugar
5 large eggs
2 tsp. baking soda
2 ¼ cups Hachiya persimmons
3 tsp. baking powder
4 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. ginger
4 tbsp. orange zest (from 4 large oranges)
1 ½ cups golden raisins
2 cups chopped almonds

This recipe works smoothest if you prepare the various parts first, then put it all together and pour into pans to bake immediately. Thus:

  • Zest orange peel and set aside.
  • Chop nuts and mix together with raisins, separating any raisin clumps.
  • Mash persimmons, then stir in baking soda and combine thoroughly. Set aside to thicken.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
  • Butter and flour pans, or spray nonstick pans with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter till soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and cream together. Add eggs one at a time, beating to mix together with butter until smooth after each addition.

Add persimmon mixture to egg mixture and beat until uniform. Stir in previously combined dry ingredients.

Stir in almonds, raisins, and orange zest. Concentrate on stirring in zest uniformly, and the nuts and raisins, because they’re larger, will also be stirred in uniformly.

Fill pans ½ to 2/3 full with batter.

Bake at 350 degrees, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Muffins take about 35 minutes, loaf about 55 minutes, and tube cake about 70 minutes. Set on cooling rack for 10 - 15 minutes (depending on size), then unmold. Timing is critical, you want it to be warm but not too warm, so bread will come out in once piece. Try the shaking method below to help with this.

If your pan is not nonstick, run a metal spatula around the edges before you invert it. You will need a thin spatula or knife to release the center of a tube cake. When all edges are released—or for nonstick pans—hold the pan (with gloves or potholders) and shake it back and forth in all directions until you can see it moving in the pan freely. Then unmold it onto cooling rack.


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