Spiced Persimmon Bread

I wrote last week about the farmer’s market, and about how I am trying to be more responsible about using the produce I bring home before it goes bad. I am happy to announce that we have made some very good changes to our kitchen paradigm, and have significantly reduced our produce waste. I am still struggling with a bit of hoarder’s complex (I HATE running out of things, so I don’t use them “just in case” I need them later. Then they go bad, and I wonder why it keeps happening), but I’m getting better about respecting/appreciating the freshness and being more intentional about meal planning.
I also wrote last week about my delight and surprise that someone still had crisp fuyu persimmons available in February (they are generally a fall/early winter fruit). When we went back again this weekend, they were still there, in all their beautiful orange glory!
There are two types of persimmons that we see at the markets:
Fuyu: squat, tomato-shaped fruits with edible skin. They are to be consumed when they are hard (like an apple). Their flavor is mild and sweet, but not cloying or syrupy. Their flesh is crunchy and great for eating raw, slicing into salads, drying into persimmon chips, or baking into tarts.
Hachiya: these heart-shaped fruits are larger than their cousins, with a more elongated shape. They are very bitter and tannic when they’re firm, but become pudding-like and VERY sweet when allowed to fully ripen. Many people like to eat these fresh (cut in half and scooped out with a spoon), or frozen like a sorbet. The skin of the hachiya is not generally edible – it gets very papery as the fruit ripens.
I’m all for using hachiyas in this recipe, but I generally shy away from them in favor of the fuyu when I’m shopping (especially since Rick HATES the squishy ones). It’s a texture thing. I do, however, sometimes enjoy the “over-ripe” fuyus that get soft and sweet, becoming much more like a hachiya. Someone get me a spoon!
These late-season fuyu persimmons are starting to get a little thick-skinned, and they are smaller than the ones I saw this year during peak-season, but they are sweet and crisp and delicious nonetheless. I grabbed about 5 lbs of them, planning to prep and freeze them, as I’m sure they won’t be around much longer.
Getting them home, I halved them and removed the stems/caps. I then peeled the skin off (I am much more efficient with a good paring knife than I am with a peeler, but you could go with whatever way is comfortable). I then diced the fruit into roughly 1cm cubes, placing them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. An hour in the freezer got them nice and solid, and then I put them into freezer-safe gallon bags for storage.

(Why the baking sheet step? I find that flash-freezing fruits and vegetables on sheets and THEN storing them keeps them from all sticking together. This way when I want to use them, I don’t have to thaw out the whole bag; I can just measure out the amount I need and thaw that.)
Of course, I saved 1 cup of the diced fruit fresh for making persimmon bread!
I love that this recipe uses yogurt (a quick sweep of banana bread recipes online suggested that this was a low-fat alternative to the more common oil or butter). Personally, I don’t care about the fat content (my banana bread recipe uses both butter AND cream cheese), but I thought the acidity and tang of the yogurt would bring out some of the sweetness of the persimmons and add a depth of flavor. Additionally, the spices are noticeable but not overwhelming: fuyu persimmons have a rather delicate flavor that I wanted to make sure I highlighted, and didn’t overpower.
This bread is dense and moist with chunks of soft persimmon (which almost seems candied) flecked throughout. It is guaranteed to please even the staunchest of “EEEW PERSIMMONS ARE SLIMY” critics. Try it. It’s fabulous.

Spiced Persimmon Bread

(makes one 9 x 5 loaf)

1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c organic brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 c plain yogurt
1 c mashed or diced persimmons (about 3 or 4, depending on size)
1 egg
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease (butter) a 1.5 qt /5 x 9 pan. I like to use my pyrex loaf pan for this so I can see the sides of the loaf as it bakes.
Pick out a few ripe persimmons. Peel and dice them into 1 cm cubes (if they are very soft, just spoon them out of the halved skins and mash up the pulp so there are no overly-large chunks). Put these into a mixing bowl with the egg, yogurt, oil, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder/soda, and the spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir until they are fully incorporated.
Pour this batter (it should be fairly thick) into the greased loaf pan and put it in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until thumping the top feels bouncy and sounds hollow, and it is deep golden brown (30-60 min, depending on pan and batter consistency), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (keep in mind that if you get baked persimmon on the toothpick, it might not look totally clean. This is OK – you’re checking for batter, not persimmon goop).
When the loaf is finished cooking, allow it to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then turn it out of the pan and allow it to cool further on a wire rack. If you like your breads moist, place a dish towel over the top while it’s cooling to keep the steam inside the loaf.
Serve warm with whipped cream, or slice and serve cold. This bread is also a spectacular breakfast/tea snack when it’s sliced, toasted, and buttered.
note: I haven’t tried it, but I’d bet this recipe would make a killer pumpkin bread (maybe with some sunflower seeds or walnuts?) or carrot bread (with golden raisins). I’ll let y’all know if I get around to trying it. I mean – after all, I have GALLONS of persimmons to go through first!

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