Orange Spiked Persimmon Bread
When sharing Nature’s Bounty is for the birds
In the Santa Cruz Mountains dotted amongst open spaces between the redwoods, oaks and pines are remnants of fruit orchards, apple, plum and maybe pears. Like old vine stock, singular trees, knarled broken and standing witness to the self-sufficient homesteaders and mountain folks who populated these rugged hills. When the temperature drops to the thirties and leaves trickle to the earth a new winter spectacle appears. Looking from my window I see it there as I gaze down into the valley. Vibrant orange, tear-dropped shaped ornaments suspended in air. Persimmons, planted long ago. Perhaps to celebrate a rare winter fruit to add to holiday celebrations in the form of steamy spiced puddings, in breads, butters and cookies.
We are fortunate to have two trees on our property, a Fuyu and Hachiya, and over the years I have embraced the unique flavors and thrilled at the jeweled beauty of the trees. Each harvest more than we can use, and occasionally neighbors or passersby would stop to ask to pick a few, gladly we share. What a waste to not use these, as there is nothing messier than the splat of jelly-like fruit onto the deck or carport, landing with a tremendous ka-thunk from the weight of it. Truth be known the pack (our dogs) have come to love persimmons and that particular noise is like a call to the dessert table.
What comes next is yet another winter phenomenon. As if by a magical secret communique flocks of birds come to take their share of the bounty just as the stringent, acidic fruit turns sweet. Plump Robins whose red breast rival the round red-orange globes as they gorge on the soft flesh. Townsend’s Warblers, Chickadees, Starlings and large Ravens each visit the tree until all remaining fruit is consumed, bellies full for a brief respite during the barren winter months. Better than watching an episode of Nature, the social interactions, the cycles and visual beauty of our feathered friends. The following images caught by my darling dear. I hope you enjoy.
While he’s out patiently bird watching I’ve been in the kitchen baking. This time of year I love the instant gratification of quick breads and cakes with fruit. Persimmons are well suited to these and 4-6 ripe fruits (did you know these are technically berries?) easily bakes up two large nine inch loaves or several min-loaves or muffins for gifting. Today’s take is combining the other winter beauty in the same color family — oranges! A little zest, a little booze with a spice combo that does not contain cinnamon. I think you will like it.
- 3½ cups sifted flour
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon each ground mace, cardamom, nutmeg, all spice
- 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- ⅓ cup Cointreau
- 2 cups persimmon puree (ripe Hachiya persimmons)
- 2 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped
- 1 cup golden raisins
- Wash, peel and core your persimmons, process ripe fruit in food processor until smooth.
- Spray your loaf pans with baking spray with flour, or butter and flour your pans.
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Sift together your dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl making a well in the center of the mixture.
- In a medium bowl, Lightly beat four eggs and combine melted butter, persimmon puree, vanilla, orange zest, juice and liqueur.
- Pour liquids into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed.
- Fold in walnuts and raisins.
- Pour batter into loaf pans about ¾ full. Tap on counter to settle and remove air bubbles.
- Bake for an hour, test with toothpick and if needed continue baking until the bread is browned and the toothpick comes out clean (perhaps 10-15 minutes more.)
- You can also use this bread batter for making mini-loaves, muffins or mini-muffins. Just adjust your baking time. 5 mini-loaves took about 45 minutes, 1 24 mini-muffin tin baked in 25 minutes.)
Recipe modified from David Lebovitz 2005 adaption of a James Beard recipe.
See more images from The Twenty Fifth Frame