Up at my local greengrocer the other day, I noticed a tray of strange, orange-red fruits. They were about the size of a small aubergine, and looked so ripe, that they were almost glowing. Now, since I’m an absolute fruit fiend, I get unduly excited when confronted with a fruit I don’t know anything about. The local grocer is usually great at getting in seasonal produce, so whatever this mystery fruit was, it had to be the right time of year for it, too. I was baffled.
“It’s a kaki fruit,” explained the grocer, “a type of persimmon. And they’re not overripe, that’s how they’re supposed to be.”
I was dubious; they looked so ripe they were almost bursting, and even paying for my haul, I managed to stick my thumb through the skin, nearly causing a fruit explosion. But, I discovered after a bit of internet research, that is when they’re at their best. They ripen on the trees well into autumn, after all the leaves have fallen, so that they look like bright orange paper lanterns on the bare branches.
I hardly needed to peel the one I bought; the skin just came away and I scooped out the coral-coloured flesh like jam. It has a subtle taste, gently perfumed and very sweet without being at all sharp. Of course, I started thinking about how I could bake it into a cake.
Another quick internet scan (where, as usual Rachel Eats came to the timely rescue) revealed the people usually bake persimmon cakes in bundt rings. I guess this makes sense, since the fruit with naturally make a cake heavier, so a bundt ring will distribute the heat more evenly and stop any sinking in the middle nonsense.
I have some mini-bundt tins that I’ve never had the opportunity to use, so we were alright there. After a quick raid of the spice rack, I changed my mind from nutmeg to cardamom and presto. Cake time.
If you do see any kaki fruit on your travels, grab them quick! You won’t be disappointed.
(p.s. sorry about the low-fi picture, didn’t have the camera this weekend!)
Persimmon & Cardamom Cake
For the cake:
- 180g butter, softened
- 180g caster sugar
- 2 free-range eggs
- 180g self-raising flour
- 1 very ripe persimmon, flesh scooped out
- 1 vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 5 or 6 cardamon pods
- 1 tbsp icing sugar, to finish
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4. Grease 4 mini-bundt or mini-loaf tins
- Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and very fluffy.
- Add in the eggs one at a time, along with a tablespoon of the flour to stop the mixture from splitting. Beat well in between.
- Sift in the rest of the flour and stir until just combined.
- In a pestle and mortar, bash open the cardamom pods to get at the seeds. Fish out any husk and then pound the seeds into as fine a powder as you can manage.
- Tip the ground cardamoms seeds, vanilla and persimmon flesh into the batter and stir gently to incorporate.
- Spoon into the tins, filling them 3/4 full.
- Bake for around 25 minutes (depending on your oven!) until set and a skewer or toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool slightly.
- Turn out onto a plate, dust with icing sugar and enjoy!
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