You’re not going to be able to make this recipe right away. First, you’ll have to buy three or four persimmons at the grocery store. They will be pale and hard. You should put them in a glass bowl on the table where you eat (we call this the “dining room table” but we don’t have a dining “room” any more than we have a kitchen “room”). Commercially available persimmons take about three weeks to ripen fully, so they should be somewhere you can keep an eye on them. Turn the fruit every few days so it doesn’t bruise. Their color should deepen to a lumenescent sunset orange and the calyx dry out to a pale green. They don’t really give off an aroma. Once the fruit is soft and yields easy to a fingertip, you’re ready for cake.
- 3 very ripe (very soft) persimmons (1 1/4 lb total)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon mace (or ground cloves)
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup loosely packed dried pitted dates (5 oz), finely chopped
- 1 cup walnuts or pecans (3 1/2 oz), finely chopped
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 15- by 10-inch shallow cookie sheet/baking pan (1 inch deep).
If you have time, toast the nuts and then chop small in a food processor. Dump them out into a small bowl and chop the dates (you don’t have to clean the food processor between any of these steps) add to the nuts. Discard dried green or brown calyx (stem and leaves) from each persimmon, and scoop out the pulp into the food processor. Process until smooth. I’ve been making this recipe for a while and before I had a food processor I had to force the pulp through a sieve into a bowl, using a rubber spatula – which you can do but it’s a lot more work. Not to mention chopping walnuts and dates all day long. Transfer 1 to 1 1/2 cup purée to a small bowl and stir in lemon juice and baking soda. (The cake doesn’t change much with the varied amount of fruit.) The mixture will become foamy, then jell slightly.
Sift together flour, salt, and spices in another small bowl.
Whisk together egg, sugar, and oil in a large bowl until just combined. Add flour mixture and persimmon pulp stirring until just combined. Stir in nuts and dates.
Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack.
Stir together all glaze ingredients until smooth, then spread over top of cooled cake.