35 - Persimmon Bread

I don't think I'd ever heard of persimmons before moving to California. And although once here, I’d see them glowing bright orange at farmer’s markets, I’d never been bold enough to buy one. I'd seen them at farmer's markets for years bright orange--in two varieties-- I don't believe I ever bought them.

This all changed in 1991 when we became shareholders in the Moore Ranch Community Supported Agriculture farm. Now CSA’s are ubiquitous, but they were relatively obscure then.

Each week we’d receive a box of freshly picked produce. I had to learn how to prepare all sorts of new vegetables from kohlrabi to persimmons.

Steve Moore, the farmer, wrote a newsletter full of facts and recipes each week. I learned there were two varieties --Fuyu--rounder--sold crisp and eatable--and Hachiya--more triangular. He grew Fuyus, which were delicious uncooked, but we got so many we couldn’t keep up and I soon was regularly baking persimmon bread.

During those persimmons years, I combined Steve's recipe with two clipped from the papers and one from James Beard. Sweet and dark, the bread was delicious with cream cheese, reminding of the date nut bread and cream cheese sandwiches I used to eat with my mother at Schrafft's in my long ago and largely fictive New York city childhood (easily conflated with my actual Jersey City childhood).

For two loaves:

Grease two standard loaf pans.

Preheat oven to 350. Beat two eggs until light and foamy. Add 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups pulp of fuyu persimmons (those would be the round ones), and 1 tsp. lemon juice. Stir in 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans and 1 cup raisins.

Mix together dry ingredients: 3 cups sifted flour, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. ground cloves, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Add to persimmon mixture--and stir until just blended.

Pour into loaf pans and bake for one hour--until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool on wire racks.

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