I only discovered persimmons a little over three years ago when brainstorming for my Thanksgiving menu, but they have become one of my absolute favorite fall ingredient with their nutty sweetness and exotic appeal. Not only are they spectacular in their fruit form, even good enough to scoop out the flesh with a spoon and eat with nothing else, but they also make for a fantastic persimmon bread. Whether using the popular Hachiya, Fuyu, or Chocolate Fuyu, they need to be nice and soft for this recipe so that you can blend them into a smooth puree (side note: you can eat the Fuyu variety when it is firmer because it is not astringent, but the Hachiya needs to be completely ripe in order for it to be palatable).
Persimmon bread is very reminiscent of banana bread, but with a combination of baking spices, a spike of bourbon, and a fruity essence, it is an even better choice for this season. I typically base my recipe off of James Beard's classic, which is always a hit, but so far this year, I have switched gears and created a gluten-free version that is also extremely satisfying. While this current one is a bit healthier than the original, it is actually very similar in its components - you might not even recognize the difference!
Initially, I had plans to bake my typical persimmon bread, but when asked to lead a baking bachelorette party for my friend who is gluten-free, I realized I needed an alternative. Yes, I could have served another gluten-free dessert and took the easy way out, but persimmon bread is just too good that I wanted her to be able to experience it too. Having recently baked a scrumptious orange and pistachio cake with almond and coconut flour, I utilized this recipe as my base. Making certain I had all the right aspects that the regular bread has, I did some tests to nail down the proportions, and I am happy to share that recipe with you below! Your whole kitchen will just ooze fall as soon as it hits the oven - it will definitely be hard to wait for it to cool before you slice off a piece for yourself!
This persimmon bread is not too sweet, so it is perfect on its own for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. Because it has a light, spiced flavor, you could spread some ricotta or cottage cheese or layer slices of provolone or Havarti; include some seasonal jam, apple butter, or nut butter and it would be like your own all-in-one-bite version of a cheese plate (for the recipe below, I applied apple butter like frosting for a cake - its tart and juicy essence as a finishing touch lends itself well to the deep autumn-ness of the bread without overpowering it). I also love to deck it out with chocolate, Nutella, honey, or maple syrup to kick up that dessert-factor if I am in the mood. Whatever topping you choose, if the bread is not fresh from to oven, you must toast it in the broiler! Not only does it wake up the flavors a bit more, but with its naturally warming spices, a warmer temperature is ideal; the crunchy exterior adds texture, providing additional enjoyment to the eating experience.
For the bachelorette party, I also put together a fall-themed cocktail, taking advantage of the leftover persimmon purée from the bread batter. Balancing out the earthiness of tequila, the sweetness of maple syrup, and the tartness of cranberry juice with chai tea and persimmons yielded a comforting cocktail that completely complimented the flavors of as well as the coziness evoked by the bread.
The recipe is so simple - the hardest part is finding persimmons, but they are coming into season now so hopefully you will be lucky! If you cannot find them though, substitute pear or orange or lemon, and you will still end up with a truly memorable and divine result.
Persimmon Bread (Substitute Pear or Citrus)
2 large eggs 4 ripe and soft persimmons/pears/citrus 2 T coconut oil 2 T maple syrup 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract 4 T amaretto/bourbon 2 ¼ cups blanched almond flour 3 T coconut flour ¾ tsp baking soda 2 T cinnamon 1/2 tsp ginger 1/8 tsp nutmeg 1/8 tsp allspice 1/8 tsp clove ¼ tsp salt
1/2 cup semisweet or white chocolate chips (optional) 1 cup pecans Oil for greasing
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
Put parchment in a loaf pan and grease with oil.
Rough chop persimmons by hand and blend until smooth in a robot coupe. Strain if necessary to remove any pieces of skin/seeds.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with 1 cup of the purée, oil, maple syrup, extract, and amaretto/bourbon.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the spice mix (save the rest for the apple butter), and salt.
Add the dry mixture to the wet to form a batter, stirring with a spatula until all is incorporated. If using chocolate chips, mix them in now, though I prefer to leave them out entirely and melt them on top afterwards, producing a more decadent layer of chocolate over the whole slice of bread :D).
Place the batter into the baking dish - it should not be pourable but malleable - and bang out any air bubbles by tapping the bottom with your hand and a little force.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. It should be soft to the touch and just a little crisp on top.
Toast the pecans in a pan over low heat until fragrant and slightly darkened in color. You can also toast them on a tray in a 325˚F oven for 15 minutes. Let cool and chop if desired.
Spread the apple butter over the top and sides of the bread like frosting and decorate with the pecans.
Use almost all of the spice mix in the apple butter recipe found on the Apple Butter blog. Save a tiny portion to garnish the cocktail. You will need 3/4 to 1 cup of apple butter for this size of persimmon bread (about six medium-sized apples).
Fall Tequila Surprise
Ingredients 1 1/2 oz tequila 1/2 cup persimmon purée/juice from above 1 oz pomegranate or cranberry Juice 1 T maple syrup 5 oz chai tea
Dash spice mix
Brew one cup of chai tea. Let cool.
Whisk together tequila, persimmon purée, juice, maple syrup, and chai tea.
Serve with a sprinkle of the remaining spice mix.
Drinking this cocktail with the persimmon bread will fill you with fall spices galore! I hope you love them as much as I do; if not, you will after trying these recipes!