By sharing this recipe, I’m hoping to answer, once and for all, a question I’m asked a lot; what is a persimmon? Despite sales of this relatively new fruit soaring year on year, and despite their near perpetual presence in most major supermarkets, many people still have no idea what a persimmon is, nor what to do with it. I can answer both of these questions, dear readers, so lend me your attention for a few moments and you might just find your fruit repertoire expanding to include this tasty new addition.
A persimmon looks a bit like an orange tomato; squat and glossy with a little leafy stalk. They come in two types: fuyu and hachiya. The latter are much bigger and softer-skinned, and ready to eat when they’re truly ripe, almost like a water balloon in squidginess. Fuyu are the type you’re more likely to see in our supermarkets: they are smaller, their skin is thicker and crisper, and you can eat them when they’re still fairly firm (test them as you would a mango or avocado). Hachiya persimmons are the best for this recipe, but as you’re unlikely to find them I’ve adapted it for the fuyu variety (if you find hachiya, use two instead of four, and make sure they’re very ripe).
Fuyu persimmons are delicious, with a crisp outer skin and a slightly jelly-like interior, with a subtly sweet flavour reminiscent of a cross between a peach and a mango. They’re good eaten raw, but you can also add them to salads as you might mango or nectarine; they’re lovely with salty cheeses and cured meats. In baking, think of them as similar to bananas: you want them to be really super-ripe, almost inedibly so, before you use them. When baked into cakes and loaves, they have a similar flavour to bananas and contribute a similar moistness.
Essentially, this recipe is a persimmon take on banana bread, made more exciting with the addition of toasty pecans and gooey blueberries. It’s deliciously moist, fragrant with mixed spice, vanilla and orange zest, and made with healthy spelt flour so it won’t give you a huge sugar crash.
It’s perfect for afternoon tea, but I like to eat mine for breakfast, slathered with creamy ricotta cheese and served alongside a big mug of green tea and some fresh raspberries. It toasts very well, too, and is excellent spread with butter. The texture is a little like a malt loaf: fudgy, gooey, dark and delicious. It takes only a few minutes to put together, but makes a lovely substantial loaf. If you cant find persimmon, use bananas, it’ll still be delicious.
here's what you'll need...
- 4 ripe persimmons, stalks removed and puréed in a blender (or 2 large very ripe bananas, mashed)
- 3 tbsp melted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 50g brown sugar
- 100ml buttermilk, yoghurt or milk
- 300g spelt flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1.5 tsp mixed spice
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 70g pecans, chopped (or other nuts of your choice)
- 80g blueberries