Persimmon has always been a luxury fruit to me from my childhood in Hong Kong to my days living in Toronto. I am green with envy to read that people in the west coast have trees in their yard prolifically laden with fruit. Alas, persimmon is a treat that I only splurge when I spot the occasional sale in Asian supermarkets. As you can imagine, every time I encounter baking recipes calling for cups of pureed persimmon, I sigh deeply and turn the page.
That was my reaction to David Lebovitz’s Persimmon Cake with Cream Cheese Icing in Ready For Dessert (recipe is available online at epicurious). It is a Bundt cake adaptation of his persimmon bread recipe. I longed to find out how the honey sweet jelly-like fruit can transform the classic quick bread formula. Thanks to an unbelievable sale of overripe Hachiya persimmons at my local Asian supermarket ($2.99 for a case of 10!!), I found out at long last.
I cannot help but smile when I open my freezer. Right there in the middle shelf, nestle between bags of sour cherries, are cups of bright orange frozen persimmons pulp. I think of all the baking possibilities every time I look. Are they turning into steamed pudding, loaves, or buckwheat chocolate muffin? Fortunately I can take my time pondering the answer. For now, my attention is preoccupied by the most luscious persimmon Bundt cake.
I adapted Lebovitz’s recipe slightly to use chopped Medjool dates made tipsy with smoky bourbon. This is a cue I took from sticky toffee pudding and just my general fondness for bourbon. The cake cannot be easier to put together, as the way classic quick bread tends to go. It baked to dark perfection in exactly one hour and I glazed it the next morning. I am no stranger to cream cheese icing, having baked my fair share of Bundt cakes and cinnamon rolls. This version is the best I’ve tasted yet. The mixture of cream cheese, butter, icing sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla became pourable with the addition of only two teaspoons of water. There was some body to the thick icing yet it glided down the side of the cake smoothly. What was so distinguishing about it? The icing draped and clung onto the cake yet it did not harden to a crunchy shell. Even four hours after I glazed this showstopper, the icing complemented the deep spicy cake like velvet. There was a faint hint of honey from persimmons and the fruit kept the sturdy cake moist.
I enjoyed my slice of persimmons cake immensely. In fact, I wondered if I have enough discipline to branch out to different persimmon recipes. Let’s hope I do not help myself to another slice. My resolution to experiment with this winter harvest may dissolve if I like my cake any more.