Once the weather starts to cool down a little, and the leaves begin to turn various shades of gold and red, I reconcile myself to the fact that the time for peaches and watermelons is over. Yet as much as I love summer fruits, I shed no tears at their passing season. By this time I've eaten my fill of all those lovely stone fruits and melons bursting with juices and flavors. I've eaten plenty of peach tarts, cherry pies, and apricots fresh and delicious. Sure, I'll miss them at times during the year (and I even have a stash of frozen cherries in the freezer for a holiday trifle I’ll make in about a month), but it is now time to move on. So instead of mourning the summer crops I have thoroughly enjoyed for months, I am embracing the amazing fall harvest. At the top of this list is the Fuyu persimmon -- hands down my absolute favorite fall fruit.
As I mentioned in my Fuyu persimmon post last year, Fuyus should not be confused with Hachiya persimmons. Unlike the naturally astringent Hachiya, which needs to be so ripe it should look like a bag full of goop by the time you can eat it, Fuyus are sweet and firm when they're ready. With Fuyus, you can just peel and eat. They're amazing served fresh in salads or cooked in couscous and tarts. My favorite new fall dessert, however, is a Fuyu and Date Upside-Down Cake.
I came up with the idea for this cake after eyeing a pineapple upside down cake recently. I loved how pretty the pineapples looked on the cake and then began to imagine how slices of Fuyu persimmons, with their natural star inlay, would look. As I had some fresh dates on hand, I decided to throw those in as well, along with some cinnamon and nutmeg to give the cake some spice.
After setting the lovely sliced Fuyus -- which look like orange sand dollars -- in butter and sugar, I added some chopped Fuyus and dates to the cake batter. And of course I used my trusty cast-iron pan so I could cook the persimmons in the butter and sugar first on the stove top and then just add the batter and place the whole thing in the oven. The result was truly something you could only get in the fall months: the chopped persimmons and dates inside the cake gave the dessert a wonderful sweetness while the whole persimmon slices looked quite pretty on top.
Raw or cooked, Fuyu persimmons are a special fall treat that will only be available for a short while. So take advantage of them up while you can.
Fuyu and Date Upside-Down Cake
Makes: one 8-inch round cake
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (1/2 of one stick) softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg
3 persimmons (2 sliced into 1/4-inch slices and one chopped into cubes
1 cup fresh dates pitted and chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnut or almonds (optional)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sugar or brown sugar
1. In a medium sauce pan (an 8-inch round cast-iron pan if you have one), heat the 2 Tbsp butter until melted and bubbling. Add the sugar and caramelize until a light golden brown if using regular sugar or until melted if using brown sugar.
2. Lay the persimmon slices in the pan. Turn off the heat and set aside. If using a separate pan for baking the cake, pour the caramelized sugar and butter into the baking pan first and then lay the persimmon slices on top.
3. Beat sugar into butter using a stand mixer or by hand until fluffy.
4. Whisk in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated.
5. Add the milk, mixing it in thoroughly.
6. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a separate bowl.
7. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just barely incorporated.
8. Mix in the chopped dates and Fuyu persimmons (and nuts if using) until the batter is combined, but do not over mix.
9. Gently lay the batter on top of the persimmon slices in your baking pan, being sure not to disturb the pattern you made earlier.
10. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 - 45 minutes or until it is baked through. (Note that this cooking range is long because the cake has always taken 25 minutes in my convection oven using a cast-iron pan, but it has taken 45 minutes in other non-convection ovens in regular cake pans).
11. With a thin sharp knife, separate the cake from the edge of the inside of the pan. Lay a flat plate over the pan and then, using an oven mitt, flip the plate over so the cake falls onto the plate.
12. Let cool and then top with powdered sugar.