Drying Persimmons & Autumn Caramel Persimmon Cake

Miss June next door gave me her old dehydrator a few weeks ago.
drying persimmonsThis dehydrator was probably manufactured before I was born but it still works perfectly. It even has adjustable temperatures! The very weekend after I brought the dehydrator home I was gifted with a bunch of ripe astringent persimmons. I was reading all about hoshigaki and gotgam, hoshigaki’s Korean cousin, so I decided to see what would happen if I dried the ripe astringent persimmons in the dehydrator.
dried persimmonsThese suckers took three days in the dehydrator- a full 72 hours at a fairly high temperature. I nibbled on one. They had the exact same texture as really good dates. Still slightly moist and pliable, rich and dense. Now what to do with them? I wanted to do something fancier than gotgamssam. If they look like dates, and they have the same consistency as dates, why not use them like dates?

persimmon cake

Behold the locavore’s answer to date paste.

Briefly rehydrating and pureeing the dried persimmons created a thick paste that is almost identical to date paste or date puree. Persimmons aren’t quite as sweet as dates but they have the same caramel flavor that goes so well with autumn spices. I can’t wait to try substituting persimmon paste in other recipes like date bars and paleo chocolate pudding. The best part is that farmers often sell the soft-ripe astringent persimmons for next to nothing. I think my dinosaur of a dehydrator is going to stay busy for quite a while.
persimmon cake1

Autumn Caramel Persimmon Cake

Dried persimmons paired with the dark, rich flavor of cane syrup to give this cake the full character of “North Central Florida in Autumn”. I think this cake would be an excellent addition to a local Thanksgiving table.

8 oz dried Hachiya persimmons
1 c boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 c oat flour*
3/4 c spelt flour*
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c butter
1/2 c blonde unrefined sugar
2 eggs

Caramel Sauce:
1/4 c butter
1/2 c cane syrup
1/2 c whipping cream

Chop the persimmons roughly and pull out any stems or tough seeds. Cover the persimmons with the boiling water, cover, and let cool. Once the persimmons are plumped up a bit and only warm, puree the mixture in a blender only until roughly pureed. You want to leave some texture. Stir in the baking soda.

Butter a 2 quart baking dish or a 9×9 baking pan. Heat the oven to 325. Cream the butter and sugar together until light. Beat the eggs in until fully incorporated. Add the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Beat until everything is incorporated. Then stir in the persimmon puree. I didn’t work hard at the final stirring and the cake had a lovely marbled appearance.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the center springs back when touched and the sides have slightly pulled away from the pan. Set the cake on a rack to cool.

Combine the butter, cane syrup, and whipping cream in a small sauce pan. Bring the sauce up to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens slightly. Poke holes in the warm cake with a skewer and slowly pour half the sauce over the cake until absorbed. Either serve the cake right away with the rest of the sauce on the side, or warm the cake and the extra sauce slightly before serving.

*You can use 1 1/2 c of any whole grain flour. My favorite baking mix is 50% spelt flour and 50% oat flour.