Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Sweet Bananas and Persimmons
The rains came last week (about 8 inches in 5 days) and knocked most of the leaves off the trees. That made some trees look pretty bleak, but not our persimmon tree.
One of the harbingers of winter around here are the bright orange persimmons hanging like early Christmas ornaments on the bare branches of their trees. Our tree is a Hayachi, the kind that need to be soft, almost squishy, in order to be edible. I brought an unripe, hard one in to be part of the Thanksgiving table decorations and it is finally soft enough to use.
Today there were also a few very ripe bananas on the plate with the new greenish ones that Sweetie likes. I decided to combine the two fruits in one sweet quick bread. With the addition of some molasses and spices it is the perfect seasonal treat. This one is very moist. You get a hint of the persimmon flavor and a bit more of the banana. Fortunately they complement each other. Sweetie was a big fan of this combo and of the moistness, plus he has always liked thing with molasses flavors.
The butter needs to be soft, the eggs at room temperature and the fruit very ripe. It only makes one loaf, but it just might become your favorite tea bread when persimmons are ripe. Now you know what I'm going to be baking when the persimmons now on the tree are ripe in a few weeks. Hope you'll try it, too.
Persimmon Banana Spice Bread
1 fully ripe persimmon (about 1/3 pound)
2-3 ripe bananas
1 ½ plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon dried orange peel, ground
2 large eggs
¼ cup molasses
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. Adjust oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8 ½ by 4 ½ by 2 ¾ inch loaf pan; set aside.
2. Pull the stems off the persimmon and cut lengthwise in half. With a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon, scoop the pulp out into a bowl. Use a pastry blender or potato masher to chop or mash the pulp into small pieces; you should still have some pieces of persimmon mixed with the pureed pulp. Set aside. Peel and mash the bananas, also leaving some small pieces mixed with the very mashed pulp. Set aside.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, spices and orange peel together; set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter until light. Add the brown sugar and beat until light. Add the molasses and beat to combine thoroughly.
5. Add the eggs to the butter mixture and beat to combine. Mixture may look curdled. That is OK. Stir in the persimmon pulp and banana pulp with a rubber spatula. Add the flour mixture and stir only until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and smooth the top(s). (Note: I stirred in the fruit and then the flour mixture using a stand mixer and was careful to not overmix…it worked fine.)
6. Bake for about 1 hour and 5 minutes, until the bread is well browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The bread will be quite dark, especially on the edges, but if loaf/loaves start to brown too much before being done, lay a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side up, loosely on top during the last 30 minutes or so of baking.
7. Cool in the pan(s) on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a small sharp knife around the side(s) to release the bread, and carefully unmold. Set right side up on a rack to cool completely. Wrap airtight. The bread can be frozen for up to 2 months.