Some recipes lend themselves well to mediocrity, and this cake might be a good case in point. The first time I made it, it was good. Really good even. Perhaps better than mediocre, but, as good as it was, I could taste greatness lurking within that spongy interior, and boy howdy, I wanted greatness. I don’t always get what I want in these situations, but this time… perhaps.
So the backstory on this lovely fall cake is that I found the recipe as I was going through some old recipe files (they're everywhere around here, but that's a whole other post). It’s been in that file so long that I couldn’t even find it online anymore. But who knows, the recipe might be so old, it was published before we even had online.
But loving persimmons as I do, I was immediately drawn to the idea of this pudding cake. So when the first persimmons showed up here in the store a week or so ago, I excitedly got it made. As I mentioned above, it was quite good, but it just wasn’t persimmon-y enough for me, nor was it very pudding-y-ish. If you’re going to call something a pudding cake, there are certain textural expectations involved.
So I sat down and re-wrote the recipe, doubling the persimmon content, cutting back on the sugar, adding a couple more spices, a little more flour and a few more nuts. I was tempted to increase the amount of brandy, but left it as is (and added some into the icing).
And this time, what emerged from the oven was, in my opinion, a real, honest-to-goodness persimmon pudding cake... a perfectly moist and pudding-esque sort of cake, heavy with persimmon, fragrant with fall spices and just a hint of brandy. I do believe we achieved greatness, but with the caveat that this is all quite subjective, you understand.
Now, if you’ve never had a persimmon or cooked with them before, the two most common varieties that you’re likely to encounter are the fuyu and the hachiya. I’m guessing that persimmons originated in Japan. The fuyu tends to be lighter in color and a little more squat, while the hachiya is more elongated and a bit darker. We’re working with the hachiya persimmon here, and they have to be really, really ripe before you eat them. Like squishy ripe. And for this recipe you’re going to need 4 of them.
Just peel them and throw the pulp into the blender or food processor. I used my hand blender for this. Whiz them up until they’re pureed (but don’t over process them), before mixing them with the other ingredients.
I used a standard-sized bundt pan (10-12 cups) and baked it for 40 minutes at 325. It came out perfect. The original recipe called for a 5-6 cup bundt pan and cooking it for 1.5 hours. I have not tried baking it in a cake pan or baking dish, but I’m guessing that any of those options would work fine, with the baking time somewhere between 45 minutes and 1 ½ hours… do you not love the precision with which I have this figured out? Just cook it till it’s done (toothpick test works good here), and after it cools, you’ll be drizzling it with this creamy, sweet, brandy-infused glaze. I know, right?
Whether we have achieved persimmon pudding cake greatness might be open to debate, but I'm done talking about it, I've got some cake to eat. Here's the recipe...
Persimmon Pudding Cake
Adapted from the Santa Cruz Sentinel
I made lots of changes to this recipe, which was good, but not quite persimmon-y enough for me. So I doubled the persimmon and cut back on the sugar, added a few more spices and a little more butter and flour, added the icing, and, well, basically changed the whole thing. We loved this new version, and if you like persimmons, I think you will too. I baked it in a standard-sized bundt pan (10-12 cup), and it took exactly 40 minutes to bake. You can also use a small bundt pan (5-6 cups) or 9" cake pan, which will take an hour or so to bake, depending on your pan and oven temperatures.
2 cups persimmon puree (from 4 hachiya persimmons)
1 ¼ cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
Butter for pan (or nonstick cooking spray)
For the Glaze:
1 ½ cups powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
1 ½ tablespoons of milk or cream
1 tablespoon brandy
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Lightly butter or spray a bundt pan, or 9" cake pan. Sift flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, baking soda and salt into large bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix together the persimmon puree along with the brandy, eggs, melted butter and vanilla until blended. Stir this into the dry ingredients and then add the raisins and walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 325 F for about 40 minutes if using a standard-sized bundt pan (10-12 cup), or longer (an hour to an hour and a half) if using a smaller (5-6 cup) pan. I haven't used a cake pan or baking dish, but depending on the size, it will probably need an hour or so in the oven. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done. Do not overcook.
Let the cake cool for a couple of minutes before turning it out on a rack to finish cooling. When cooled, place on a serving platter and drizzle with the glaze.