Thursday, November 4, 2021

Persimmon Loaf

Daylight Savings Time is about to end (whyyyyyy?) and persimmons are in season again. So it's time to make hoshigaki, and also this seasonal loaf. (All the recipes in the native American persimmon chapter of my book Forage, Harvest, Feast can be made using the big Asian persimmons we see at market.)

I developed this spiced loaf specially for persimmons. It is fragrant with dried ginger and spicebush (Lindera benzoin) - if you don't have spicebush, substitute microplaned or finely chopped orange zest. But you can also buy the spice, dried, from Integration Acres (where they call is Appalachian allspice). I recommend it highly.

Any ripe persimmon can be used, including the small native American fruit (Diospyros virginiana). If you are using those, or the large, pointy Asian Hachiyas, they should be gelatinously ripe. If not they will taste furry and tannic and ruin the bake. And the native 'simmons and Hachiyas sometimes have seeds, so work them through a food mill or remove by hand. 

Fat-bottomed Fuyus (shown above) are ripe when firm, but mash up their pulp so that it is smooth, for this recipe. You can do this by kneading the flesh hard through the skin, using your thumbs, then scooping it out, or in a food processor. A few small, remaining chunks are OK.

Like native American pawpaws (Asimina triloba), persimmon pulp is dense and the baking time is longer than you would expect, as a result.

Makes 1 large loaf ( 5 ½" x 10 ½" pan)

1 ½ cups ripe persimmon pulp
1 ¼ cups sugar
½  cup melted unsalted butter
3 large eggs
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon ground spicebush (or 2 teaspoons orange zest)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt (this is not a typo)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda

Optional topping

1 Tablespoon Fir Sugar* (or mix sugar with ginger, or a pinch of cloves)

* See Forage, Harvest, Feast for Fir Sugar (and to learn about spicebush!).

Preheat the oven to 350'F.

Butter a loaf pan 5 ½" x 10 ½" pan (or use two small loaf pans, or even muffin trays, but reduce the baking time to about 50 and 25 minutes, respectively).

In a large bowl, combine the persimmon pulp, sugar, melted butter, eggs, yogurt, spices, and salt. Beat them together until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and stir these into the wet mixture with a spoon, using as few motions as possible. Transfer the batter to the buttered pan, sprinkle the sugar topping across the batter (if using), and slide into the oven.

Bake for 70 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted fully into the thickest part come out clean. Gently tip the loaf from the baking pan and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing.


  1. This loaf sounds so good... toying with the idea of planting a diospyros virginiana (or two - pollination?), but not sure my mountain Summers would be warm enough to ripen the fruit. Other candidates from across the pond are pawpaws and osage oranges. Curious gardeners need a huge dose of patience to find out if they were right or wrong to try. But fir sugar and fir salt will definitely feature in my repertoire this winter. We have abies alba, I'm sure it will work. Thank you for all the inspiration!

    1. D. virginiana is very cold hardy but I don't know about the summers. Is heat or day-length more important? I'd be really curious to know how the pawpaw does, too. They grow quite far north (hence cold), in the US.

    2. Yes the cold-hardiness figures look right, my winters aren't THAT cold (roughly equivalent to your 7b) but at this altitude of 1000m the nights stay cool most of the summer. Figs won't ripen for example. But I know that curiosity will get the better of me sooner or later and I will try both D. virginiana and pawpaws and quite a few other things I have on my list. I'll let you know in a few years how everyone is doing!


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