Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cookbook Corner - A Winter Muffin

I suppose that there are plenty of people who love to cook who don't collect cookbooks...but I've never met one. The internet may change things, but for me one of the joys of Christmas is that I usually receive at least one delightful cookbook.

So for todays' Cookbook Corner we are looking at Baking in America, Traditional and Contemporary Favorites from the Past 200 years, by Greg Patent. It was a gift from my good friends Lori and Phil. Since they live near by, they often benefit from my baking adventures, so it is a smart move to get me thinking about what to bake next.

The recipes are broken down by chapter into fairly obvious categories like sweet yeast bread, savory yeast bread, quick breads, a few chapters on different types of cakes, one on cookies, on on pies and tarts, one on fruit desserts. What makes this book so nice is that each chapter bigins with some history. For example, the one on quick breads goes into the substances used as leaveners (other than yeast) in the past and when commercial baking powders became available, and even a tidbit about litigation surrounding baking powders. The recipes are also fun - a combination of favorite traditional recipes and some ones with new twists.

I was happy to see that this author loves persimmons and that there were a number of recipes using persimmons. The last of the ripe persimmons...the ones that stayed on the tree despite gale force winds a few weeks ago...have been calling to me each day when I walked down to get the newspaper in the morning. They look like dark orange lanters hung on the bare branches. The birds have been feasting on some, but there are still a few to bake with. When peeled and mashed, they look like jewels. See for yourself!

Here is what I did with the last persimmons of the season. This muffin is moist, just slightly sweet and does not need a thing (including butter) added to it. It was good warm, but I liked it best at room temperature along with a cup of hot tea. The perfect winter snack could just be this Persimmon Pecan Muffin. I have to confess, however, that I couldn't find the pecans so I used chopped walnuts and the muffins were wonderful.

Persimmon Pecan Muffins

1 ¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 large egg
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe Hachiya persimmon pulp (from 2-3 persimmons)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake papers, or grease lightly.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice together into a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, sugar, and vanilla together for 1 minute. Whisk in the persimmon pulp and the melted butter. Scrape this mixture over the flour mixture, add the chopped nuts, and fold together with a rubber spatula just to moisten the dry ingredients. Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and spring back when gently pressed. Cool the muffins in their cups for 1 minute, then carefully transfer them to cooling racks. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Makes 12 muffins.


  1. Elle, I so agree about cookbooks not going away because of the internet. If anything, the internet has caused my cookbook collection to grow because I read blogs like yours, discover new cookbooks, and then click over to Amazon and order the cookbook!

    This muffin sounds delightful.

  2. I still have never tried a persimmon, but this recipe sounds wonderful!!

  3. Argh! Elle, you're killing me! Every year we dry tons of persimmons, and they're definitely NOT a UK food. Oh, I MISS them!

    You know, the other day I saw raspberry canes on sale for £7.99, or about $15. I thought, "Oh, yeah. I forgot. There are compensations here!" So I look forward to the Spring when I have in bounty things that aren't as easily available in Northern Cal... although, when I think what those are, I'll let you know...

  4. That persimmon looks so luscious. I have recently begun baking with persimmons and find they add such moisture to cakes and muffins.

  5. I have to agree with Breadchick. I think the internet has only spired me to add cookbooks to my collection. Lucky here though because I already own this one! Whee!
    Love persimmons. My aunt and I used to pick them off a tree across from her house! Wonderful fruit.

  6. You are so right!
    I love to curl up with a good cookbook, I'll take one of those yummy muffins too. =D

  7. Anonymous2:04 PM

    I never know what to do with persimmons. Thanks :)

  8. Well there is something for me to do with persimmon. I usually just make sorbet with it.

  9. Anonymous8:15 PM

    I agree completely with breadchick. My cookbook collection has only increased since the internet.
    These muffins look fantastic! What a great way to use the last of the persimmons.

  10. These sound quite tasty! Persimmons are such strange fruit. I love how they taste when they are super ripe, but if you eat them too soon they make your mouth numb. I find it to be the strangest sensation. I'll have to make a persimmon cupcake at some point though.