Move over pumpkin! Persimmon is the new pumpkin!
The pulp from a ripe persimmon can be used in breads, pies, and cakes interchangeably with pumpkin puree. But not all persimmons are alike!
I want to thank Rebecca Shew for sharing persimmons she picked from her tree in her yard. They were huge! These persimmons were so ripe and yummy, it was hard to separate the pulp from the peel so I just threw that in, too, and blended it in. You can see little bits of the peel in the cake and I loved it! The texture reminded me of apricots.
If you know me, you know I like to barter so I traded a bag of chocolate chip shortbread bars for her bag of persimmons. She had her granddaughter with her the day we made the swap, so I think it was a win-win for both of us!Fuyu persimmons (above) can actually be eaten like an apple when they are firm. Wild persimmons like the ones I grew up picking in the Arkansas woods and the larger Hachiya variety can only be eaten when very ripe and soft. Otherwise, you will pucker up more than you ever have sucking on a lemon wedges. It is astringent and bitter more than it is sour.
I have to tell a funny story about persimmons and my friends, years ago, in the Southern Progress/Oxmoor House test kitchens. None of my test kitchen friends had ever tasted or even seen a persimmon about 20+ years ago. This was before the global market exploded in Birmingham. I brought back a few of the smaller, wild ones I picked from a tree near my parents barn when I visited that weekend. They were beautiful, as orange as a pumpkin, only richer in color! Oh, and they were firm like an apple. (Insert wicked grin emoji here.) I introduced my friends to the gorgeous fruit and went on and on about how yummy they were. I passed them out one by one and asked that they wait until everyone had one before they bit into it.......... If you've ever eaten an unripe persimmon, you know what happened next! Everyone spit and sputtered diving for the trash cans and I'm laughing so hard I was crying. They thought it was funny years later when someone brought up the practical joke but at that moment.....not so much. I know Jan Smith and Elizabeth Tyler Austin were among my victims. Maybe Vanessa Taylor Pruett?
I love how you can see little bits of persimmon in this sheet cake. The walnuts are optional if their not your thing. You can substitute vanilla extract for the maple syrup if you prefer. Simple goodness.
This is the perfect time of year to try persimmons and remember, persimmons are the new pumpkin so feel free to try them in all your pumpkin recipes and let me know how you like them.
And if you're looking for a good Halloween party practical joke, try putting a few unripe persimmons in the fruit bowl!
Persimmon Spice Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting
- 1 cup salted butter softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups ripe persimmon pulp about 4 large Hachiya
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter 1 stick
- 1 16-oz box powdered sugar (4 cups)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or 1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
- 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans toasted
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Beat butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs on medium-low speed, one at a time, beating just until combined. Stir in persimmon pulp and vanilla.
- Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl or large paper plate. Gradually add flour mixture to mixing bowl, alternately with milk, beating on low speed.
- Spoon batter into a greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
- Microwave butter in wrapper on HIGH 10 seconds; flip it over and microwave 8 more seconds. This is the perfect softness for this recipe. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and add powdered sugar. Beat on low speed until the butter is in little pieces. Add maple syrup, beating well. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time until frosting spreads easily in the bowl when tested with a table knife.
- Spread maple frosting over cake and sprinkle with walnuts, if desired.