When we moved onto our new street we heard rumors of the amazing persimmon tree in our neighbor’s yard– Japanese persimmons grafted onto a Carolina persimmon trunk. When the tree set fruit it was magnificent; bright orange persimmons, a shock against the crisp fall sky. To my delight I came home one day this fall to a basket full of these beauties on my kitchen counter.
A strong craving for freshly baked bread this weekend inspired me to adapt my classic banana bread recipe to compliment my bounty of persimmons. Brown sugar, buttermilk, raw pecans, and roasted persimmons combine to make a bread that is slightly sweet, chewy, and crisp around the edges. I’ve been eating it once slice at a time this week, toasted and smeared with a little salted butter.
There are two varieties of persimmons readily available in American grocery stores- Fuyu and Hachiya. Fuyu are lighter in color, a bit squat in shape, and beloved for their sweet, honeyed flavor when eaten fresh. Hachiya are darker in color, oblong in shape, and are best when eaten very ripe or roasted. All 100 counties of North Carolina are also home to a third variety of persimmon- the American persimmon. These persimmons (including the bountiful one in my neighbor’s yard) bare fruit that must be gathered from the ground when very ripe and boast a sweet, spicy flavor. Roasted persimmons have a sweet, mellow flavor that lends itself well to both dessert and savory dishes.
As we roll straight into the holidays and my desk fills higher and higher with sweets and candy, it’s nice to have a balance. Nothing beats a slice of hot buttered sweet bread with my morning cup of coffee and I’m so thankful that I have enough roasted persimmons in the freezer to see me through winter. It’s the little things, you know?
Persimmon & Pecan Bread
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Butter to grease the pan
Heat oven to 425F. Chop persimmons into bite sized pieces. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until they are soft and beginning to bubble. Reduce oven temperature to 400F.
Mix together all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Gently smash the persimmons with a fork and mix into batter. Grease a loaf pan or 8″ skillet and pour batter into the pan, taking care to evenly distribute the persimmons. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the bread is baked through (and a knife comes out clean).
Transfer to a rack to cool.