Friday, November 14, 2008

Persimmon Walnut Cake in Orange Syrup

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
3 eggs
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
3 cloves

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.


Núria said...

Wow Maria what a great dessert :D. Yes, we have to be thankful for all we have... I constantly repeat that to myself too!

Persimmon has either lovers or detractors and I'm the latter, but Sofia, my husband's first daughter eats them from the tree!!!! She loves them♥
This time, I'm comming from the FFFs at Jenn's leftover queen blog.

Laurie Constantino said...

I ate my first persimmon just yesterday! It has an unusual flavor, but I liked it. It's flavor was milder than I thought it would be (then again, since I've only eaten one, maybe it just wasn't a very flavorful fruit.)Nice to see a creative way to use persimmons. This looks absolutely delicious.

Ivy said...

Maria, I am twice as happy today. First of all because you are one of the FFF and I am sure you will make a lot of new friends and secondly for sending this recipe to the WFD Event. Thanks very much. Your twist to the karydopita sounds great although I am not sure if persimmon is what we call λωτοί in Greece. Are they? I saw two ladies in Geneva trying to rip a persimmon tree.

Peter G said...

what a great "twist" to karydopita! The persimmons certainly liven up this cake Maria...great thinking.

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Maria, congratulations on your FFF Award! You deserve it my friend. Have a great weekend.

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

Fantastic Maria! I love persimmon... better not let me find out where your uncle lives or I may pull a raid come next autumn. lol Very nice recipe, keep 'em coming. :-)

Bellini Valli said...

You have so much to be thankful for Maria. Thank you very much for entering our event and raising awareness for4 the plight of so many less fortunate than ourselves:D

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I have yet to try a persimmon - they are always ROCK hard at the grocery store...My husband once brought a perfectly ripe one home and ate it while I was somewhere else - this fruit still eludes me!

Rosie said...

Hi Maria, sorry I've not been around in a week or so due to illness.

I have never tried Persimmon....

Looks a lovely cake for such a great event hosted by Val & Ivy :)

Rosie x

Antonio Tahhan said...

you've struck the persimmon jackpot right there!!


you're amazing - just when i thought this was one of the most uneaten fruits in my town, despite the abundance of the tree in Hania, i find someone doing something original with it.
as it is, i'm preparing a post the weird and winderful fruits of a Cretan autumn, so i'm linking this post to it.
thanks for the ideas!

Maria said...

Thank you all for stopping by! My family really enjoyed this dessert and as I still have a ton of persimmons just beginning to ripen, I'll probably make another for Thanksgiving.

Hopie said...

I just came over from the roundup. This cake looks amazing! I've never tried cooking with persimmons before. They're all over the markets here but I thought they must be from far away because I didn't realize they grew in cold climates. I'm going to have to try this recipe!

Sophie said...

This is the first persimmon cake I've seen and I'm glad I came across this recipe. Persimmons soaking in orange syrup sounds heavenly. I'd love to feature your recipe on our blog, please let me know if you are interested :).

Sophie, Key Ingredient Chief Blogger

My Name is Iosifina said...

Wow, persimmon cake! My mother used to make persimmon cookies, and I thought that was the only use for the unusual persimmon. What is the Greek word for persimmon? I love your blog!

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