Healthy Winter Persimmon Pudding Cake
Now is the time when many markets are flush with persimmons, the bright reddish-orange fruits that are incredibly sweet if left to ripen until soft, slightly squishy. No, I'm not talking about the tart native persimmons but instead about the type that you are most likely to find in grocery stores across the United States. These are primarily the Asian Fuyu, which looks a little like a squat orange tomato, and the Hachiya, which is heart- or acorn-shaped. Both types of persimmons make a great pudding cake. By pudding cake, I mean a dense, moist, fragrant, spicy-sweet dessert that's perfect to serve with coffee or tea after dinner or for a special treat. Because the persimmons are sweet on their own, I've decreased the usual amount of sugar in my recipe. More sugar, and the pudding cake would be cloying and send your blood sugar far higher than you probably want. Because the Asian persimmons are quite mild in taste, I also boost the flavor of the pudding cake with a bit of rum extract and some tangy buttermilk. Walnuts and raw sugar on top provide a nice crunch. Try the pudding cake warm from the oven with a dollop of whipped cream or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. It will make your tummy happy! And if you have any pudding cake left over, feel free to have it for breakfast, though you might want to leave off the whipped cream and ice cream. Instead, some vanilla yogurt would make a good breakfast substitute!
Healthy Winter Persimmon Cake -- Makes a 9-inch Cake
1/3 cup of canola oil
2/3 cup of low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
1/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of persimmon pulp from very, very squishy persimmons*
1 cup of white whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 cup of broken (or chopped) walnuts
2-tablespoons of raw (turbinado) sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9-inch spring-form pan with parchment paper (it's easier if you spray the pan first with non-stick cooking spray, which will make the parchment stick to the bottom and sides of the pan). Spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugars, and extracts until well blended and a bit frothy. Stir in the persimmon pulp until thoroughly blended. In another bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture with a spoon or spatula and mix until everything is just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top of the batter evenly with the nuts and then the raw sugar. Bake the pudding cake for about an hour or until a pick inserted in the center comes out with no wet batter clinging to it (a few crumbs are fine). Let the pudding cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Serve the cake warm with whipped cream or ice cream. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.
*How do you get the pulp? You'll need enough persimmons to yield a cup and a half of pulp. The persimmons must be soft and squishy--like a rotten tomato! I usually use 4-6 persimmons, depending on the size. If you have extra pulp left, use it in a smoothie, mix it into your oatmeal, or just eat it. It's really good and very sweet! Now, how to get the pulp? Simply cut the squishy persimmons in half (I usually go stem to bottom, but it doesn't really matter), then squeeze out the pulp into a bowl. You can also use a spoon to scoop out the pulp from the peel, which is easier and less messy. Discard the stems and peels and mash the persimmon pulp with a spoon or fork until it's fairly smooth. You want a pulp that's akin to the banana puree you'd use to make banana bread.