Wednesday, November 21

Persimmons, Russell Simmons, and Fuyu: Setting the Record Straight and Baking a Bread

It is a little known fact that I can speak Japanese. True, I only know two words, but I say them well.

1. Hachiya. No, it is not a greeting. It’s a persimmon.

2. Fuyu. No, not the clothing line (that’s FUBU). They are also persimmons. Not to be confused with Russell Simmons (who incidentally created Phat Farm, not FUBU).

There are about a dozen varieties of persimmons grown throughout the world; only two are generally found in the States: Hachiya and Fuyu (Fuyugaki). Both are Japanese.

Though Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons are both fun to say and have similarly pumpkin colored skin, they are different in shape, texture, and culinary use. It’s important to know the difference between them; otherwise, your persimmon eating experience will be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Hachiya persimmons are acorn shaped (see middle persimmon above) and have deeper orange skin with black streaks on it. They are astringent, which means they can be eaten only when fully ripened. A ripe Hachiya is extremely soft and should be squishy in your hand. Removing the thin skin reveals coral colored flesh so thick and glossy it looks like marmalade, and tastes like it too -- it's pleasingly sweet with hints of mango and apricot. Though they can be enjoyed raw, Hachiyas are really prized for baking.

Heed this advice: DO NOT eat an unripened Hachiya. It's like biting into a very green banana. Your mouth will become dry and chalky, and you will contort your face into unattractive expressions that will frighten your companions.

Fuyu persimmons in contrast are apple shaped and rather heavy for their size. Their skin ranges from pale yellow-orange to brilliant reddish-orange; generally, the darker the color, the sweeter the taste. Fuyu persimmons are non-astringent, which means you can eat them either firm or soft. Firm Fuyus can be eaten like an apple, and their crunchy flesh tastes like a sweet apple dusted with cinnamon. Soft, riper Fuyus can be also used for baking.

California persimmons are harvested from October to December, so it's the ideal time to make today's recipe: Persimmon and Date Bread from Food to Live By written by Myra Goodman, who along with her husband, Drew, run Earthbound Farm in San Juan Bautista, California. My cookbook is courtesy of Lillie, a lovely young woman who interned at Earthbound Farm this summer and graciously sent me a copy.

Infused with aromatic Chinese five-spice powder and ground cloves, this cake fills your home with warm aromas of autumn. The creamy Hachiya persimmons and honeyed Medjool dates create an exceptionally moist cake that is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack with a cup of tea. It is spicy (which I like), but if you don't, then I would suggest omitting the Chinese-five spice. The only change I made to the recipe was omitting 2 extra Tbsp of oil.

I am submitting this recipe to Leslie of Definitely Not Martha, who has chosen Beta Carotene Harvest for this month's Sugar High Friday. Though I love sweet potato pie and pumpkin bread, I thought this persimmon bread would be a delicious, beta carotene packed entry.

Persimmon and Date Bread
Print recipe only here.

Butter or cooking spray, for greasing the loaf pan
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
2 very ripe Hachiya persimmons, peeled and mashed (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates (I used Medjools)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

To toast the walnuts, spread nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then stir them. Bake another 3-5 minutes, until they are lightly colored and fragrant.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter or coat with cooking spray a 5 by 9-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Place the eggs and oil in a medium-size bowl and whisk to combine. Add the persimmons, dates, and walnuts and stir to blend.

Place the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, five-spice powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add the egg mixture and stir to combine. Do not overmix or the bread will be tough. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake the bread until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 60-70 minutes.

Let the bread cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and return it to the rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature. The breakfast bread can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to a week.

You might also like:

Torte di Mele (Tuscan apple cake)
Date, Fennel, and Pistachio Scones
Olive Oil Cake with Rosemary and Lemon
Roasted Acorn Squash with Medjool Dates and Toasted Almonds

Here are more tasty persimmon recipes I'd like to try:

Chow Hound's Boozy Persimmon Pudding (made with brandy)
Nora's Persimmon Tart
Susan V's Persimmon Bread

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Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, I gotta start baking with persimmons!
This loaf is incredible, Susan!

Simona Carini said...

What a great recipe! And I love your introduction. I used to eat a lot of persimmons when I lived in Italy. The variety we have is similar to Hachiya but bigger and they are sold ripe.

foodette said...

Thanks for the info - I had no idea that there were two types of persimmon. I actually just tried persimmons for the first time only a couple of days ago.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Geez, I never cook with persimmon -- and after reading this recipe, I can't imagine why not. Sounds and looks absolutely delicious. Happy Thanksgiving!

Katie Zeller said...

I've never had a persimmon... Now I'm intrigued. They always looks so interesting. I saw them lots in Andorra and Spain but haven't here. Maybe the climate's not warm enough..
BTW, for a minute I was expecting a mention of Gene Simmons - is he still alive?!?

Anonymous said...

Creative way of using them, that's the first time I've seen it used that way. Great entry for SHF!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Patricia-Thanks! I think they make the bread really moist.

Simona-Glad you like the bread and the intro!

Foodette-Did you like them?

Lydia-I hope you'll start now. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Katiez-You must have a persimmon. Right now. Seriously. Yup, he's alive.

Linda-Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I always learn so much every time I visit!

Lisa Johnson said...

Hee hee hee! Love the title! I've never had a persimmon, but I did just put on my pretty pink and white flannel FUBU sheets! ; ) Happy Thanksgiving Susan!

Pille said...

I've only ever eaten persimmons raw or baked on their own - never thought of using them in bread/cakes. How interesting.
And your Japanese skills are good. I can only say sushi and sashimi :)

Stella said...

Lovely bread!
N lovely photo of the author!!
I've missed reading yr posts=)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I don't think I've ever tasted a persimmon. I probably had no idea what I'd be getting into, but you've gotten me hooked. I'll give it a shot!

Nora B. said...

Dear Susan,
A terrific contribution to SHF. I can see that this bread would be a hit with me and my mom. Persimmons are not in season in Australia at the moment but I will definitely give it a try in late summer when they become available again.

And thanks for the mention!

Have a terrific weekend.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I love persimmons and we often bake with the fruits too- Last year I made a great spice cake (recipe on my blog) and it was to die for. I love the fact that you pair dates here - perfect combination!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Kristen-I'm so happy to hear that!

Anali-They make sheets too?! ;)

Pille-Ooh, I forgot about those. I guess I say four words! ;)

Valentina-I always enjoy your comments--thanks! :)

T.W.-You MUST try a persimmon. They are fabulous. And you know I take my fruit seriously.

Nora B.-I always forget about the change of seasons. I do think this is one worth waiting for though. And you're quite welcome! :)

Meeta-Once you start, you get hooked rather easily, don't you? :)

bazu said...

"Heed this advice: DO NOT eat an unripened Hachiya." This is a great public service announcement, Susan! And so true! Unfortunately, however, I can't bake anything with persimmons because I'm too busy slurping them up to let them serve any other purpose!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Thanks for clearing up the persimmon confusion. I only get Fuyu persimmons (I now know!) here in Peru and look forward to seeing recipes of what I can do with those! Well, besides just eat them. :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Susan, I'm totally with you on this bread. Just can not imagine not loving this and I'd sure add the 5 spices! My aunt had a Hachiya persimmon just across the road from her house and the two of us were the only ones to go wild for them every year. Wish she were around to bake this for.

Anonymous said...

This recipe sounds fantastic. I have always enjoyed persimmon as a fruit in dessert, but have never baked with it, so I have to try this. The cut slices look so inviting...

Jeanne said...

I have never baked with persimmons (think I may have eaten one once but not even 100% sure about that...). We're just back from France and saw a couple of trees heavy with persimmons that looked like decorated Christmas trees - too gorgeous. This loaf looks incredible and just imagining the flavours is making my mouth water :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan! Those are the most beautiful persimmons I have ever seen. The ones at my grocery store have been really dry and not too sweet. I wish I had some of your Calif. ones! Thanks for a fun and interesting story too. -Carol

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Bazu-That's what my mom said--she couldn't resist saving it for baking. She was here this weekend and bought a 5 pound bag to bring back home!

Gretchen Noelle-You're welcome! It was fun.

Tanna- I wish she were here for your sake as well.

Ronnell-Thanks--I just loved the moistness of it.

Jeanne-Well, you better make 100% sure you have eaten one because they are fabulous! And I agree, the tress are gorgeous.

Carol- I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Maybe they're traveling too far to wherever you live?

Scribbit said...

I've looked for some good things to do with persimmons. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

How I wished I lived in Southern California. Your produce is so beautiful. And so are your photos. Thanks for the recipe. I've never tried baking with persimmons before but this looks too good not to try!

Ann said...

I love date bread and pairing it with persimmon is inspired.

Ann at Redacted Recipes

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Michelle-You're welcome.

Anonymous-We are lucky here. Thanks! I hope you try it!

Ann-The flavors are wonderful together.

Unknown said...

Looks wonderful - but, can I make this with Fuyu persimmons?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Jen-Yes, you can use Fuyus, but make sure they are really soft and ripe, as they will be moister. If you use them while they're still firm like an apple, I think they'd make the cake dry. Good luck!

Unknown said...

I wanted to try my hands on Persimon as they are in season, Thanks for the nice recipe.