A couple weeks ago I brought home a large shopping bag full of persimmons that my uncle had picked straight off a tree in his garden, right there in the heart of good old Astoria. Every fall I am amazed at just how much fruit this tree produces (the photo you see above of what I was given is probably just a fifth of what my uncle had picked that day, not to mention how many persimmons various birds had feasted on prior to his picking them).
I love to eat them as is, but there were so many and as my husband and kids aren't thrilled with this fruit in particular, I really wanted to use a few in my cooking. So I started to look up recipes and found quite a few savory dishes, but what I was really craving was something sweet. So I got to thinking of a play on karydopita (Greek walnut cake) ... maybe a dense cake of persimmons, walnuts, cinnamon and other spices soaked in a sweet orange scented syrup.
This recipe features a good amount of ground walnuts but I use flour here as opposed to the ground rusks in a traditional karydopita, so I'm not labeling it as such. The pureed persimmons lend a subtle fruit flavor to this rich cake.
I'd like to send this dessert over to Ivy of Kopiaste, Val of More than Burnt Toast and Giz of Equal Opportunity Kitchen for their Time to be Thankful event. I am thankful every day for the amazingly beautiful, large and loving family I have. We are lucky enough to enjoy warm meals every day of the week and I only wish I could say as much for everyone in the world. Perhaps some day things will be different.
Persimmon Walnut Cake in Orange Scented Syrup
Makes one 10-inch round cake
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 to 5 ripe persimmons, pureed or mashed with a fork if very ripe
1 3/4 cups ground walnuts
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons thyme honey
3-inch strip of orange rind
1 cinnamon stick
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan.
In a bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, ginger, allspice and baking soda and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Slowly stir in the flour mixture. Add the persimmons and ground walnuts and stir until just combined.
Empty batter into prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes or so.
While the cake is baking, combine the water, sugar and honey for the syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Spoon off any white froth that may accumulate and add the orange rind, cinnamon stick and cloves. Simmer, covered, over medium low heat until the cake is done.
Pour hot syrup over hot cake once it's removed from the oven. Cool completely and, if possible, let sit for a couple of hours--or even overnight--before cutting and serving.