Thursday, January 26, 2012

Raisin Date Persimmon Muffins or Cake

6 Bundtlettes on Cooling Rack
Bundtlette Muffins

Recipe by Robin

Winter is the season for rest and contemplation, especially at the beginning of a new year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean isolation. I’ve become fond of inviting a friend or two to tea or coffee on an afternoon when I know I’ll be home alone. Catching up with conversation brightens the day and reaffirms our friendship. There’s always at least one strange story, some personal insights, and quite a few laughs.

I like baking something for these teas, especially since I still have persimmons ripening. When I served my first attempt at this recipe at tea, it was hard to cut slices without the raisins falling out of the cake. My friend Tripura (who loves raisins) offered a valuable cooking tip from her mom: soak the raisins. Dry raisins absorb moisture from the batter, leaving small gaps in the cake and causing the raisins to fall out. Her mom was an expert at baking raisin breads and cakes, and I took her advice the second time I made the recipe. It worked so well that I’m going to soak raisins for all breads and cakes from now on. The raisins are plumper. The bread is moister and doesn’t lose raisins when it’s cut.

5 Containers of Ingredients
Assembled Ingredients
There are two ways to soak the raisins. Tri’s mom soaked them in water overnight and drained them the next morning. I pour boiling water over them, let them sit one hour, then drain them. If I’m not baking right away, I store them in the fridge overnight. I also squeezed out the extra water by blotting them with a paper towel before adding them to the batter. Note that I also soaked the chopped dates, which gave them a soft texture and sweetened the cake. The soaking water can be cooked in oatmeal in place of water, quite deliciously.

Soaking raisins overnight in rum might lend a rum-raisin flair to this cake, if you’re feeling experimental. Not sure how you would “recycle” the rum afterwards, though probably not in oatmeal.

Bundtlette Pan Filled with Muffin Batter
Fill Bundtlettes This Full
I’ve made this recipe in an 8” tube cake pan and in Bundtlette muffin tins. You could try it in a 9” x 9” square pan or standard size muffin tins, filling them about 2/3 full. (Fill Bundtlettes nearly to top, as in photo.) Adjust the baking time as indicated in the recipe.

In these dark wintery early months of the year, I hope you can set aside some time for good friends and good conversation, and perhaps a bit of cake.

Muffin on Plate
Just Add Tea or Coffee
Raisin Date Persimmon Muffins (or Cake)

6 tbsp. butter, soft
1 cup golden brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup persimmon pulp
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cloves
1 - 2 tbsp. orange or tangerine rind
¾ cup dark raisins
¾ cup golden raisins
½ cup finely chopped dates
no-stick spray, or butter to grease pans

Mix together raisins and dates. Soak overnight in room temperature water, or pour boiling water over raisins and dates and let sit for 1 hour. Drain completely, and blot with paper or other towel.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grate the rind of 1 orange or 1 large tangerine, set aside.

Mash persimmons and stir in baking soda. Set aside.

Grease and flour pan/s, unless they are no-stick. Spray no-stick pans with no-stick spray

Sift and measure flours. Combine with baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, using a whisk.

Cream butter. Add brown sugar and cream together. When well mixed and fluffy, beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in persimmon-baking soda mixture.

Stir in mixed dry ingredients till batter is consistent. Stir in orange peel, raisins, and dates. Focus on stirring in the orange peel evenly, and the raisins and dates will also be evenly distributed in the batter.

Pour batter into cake pan or muffin tins. A rubber scraper helps to push the batter into the Bundtlette muffin tins to fill the gaps and eliminate bubbles. Bake until toothpick comes out clean. This is about 55 minutes for cakes, or 35 minutes for large Bundtlette muffins. Smaller muffins will take less time. I estimate 25 minutes, but advise checking them at 20. 


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