Sunday, February 8, 2009

Persimmon bread

I read a lot of food blogs, and in nearly every one, every winter, there is the rainy/snowy day, curl up on the couch under hand-knitted/quilted blankets with ridiculously cute dog/cat while drinking a mug of hot coffee/tea/hand-harvested stone-ground chocolate and eating assorted sweet breads/muffins/cookies/feats of sculptural bakery. And they claim to stay there all afternoon.

I'll admit it, I'm jealous. An entire afternoon! Time to layer mini cakes with home-canned jam. To knit scarfs that will be ready to sling around cold necks this winter, not next. To watch my children frolic in an adorably artistic pile on the vintage hardwood.

My afternoons are much more of the rush home from work and prevent the child from licking electrical cords variety. And if they weren't, I'd probably still skip the baking and head for the couch and the latest Michael Connelly mystery. (Which is where I've been the last week, for those who wondered.)

As for winter baking, I make endless versions of the following persimmon bread, break out the cream cheese, and call it good. Because this is one of those rare sweet baked things that can be totally over-stirred, it's easy to make with an enthusiastic toddler.

I pick persimmons from my parents' house at Christmastime, let them ripen into mush, whiz in the food processor, and freeze flat in Ziploc freezer bags. For this bread, pumpkin puree works great too, even better if that slightly astringent, squeaky persimmon flavor turns you off.

Persimmon Bread with Walnuts and Cranberries

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 t. baking soda
3/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. salt

2 eggs
1/3 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup persimmon (or pumpkin) puree
1/2 canola oil
1 t. vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup frozen cranberries (not defrosted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

Whisk together dry ingredients in one bowl. Whisk wet ingredients together in another, add to dry, and whisk until blended. Stir in walnuts and cranberries. Pour dough into prepared pan.

Bake in the middle of oven about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until it feels firm when you poke at the top with your finger and a toothpick or wooden skewer jabbed through the middle comes out clean. Cool completely.

Instead of walnuts and cranberries, try chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds, coconut, whatever you've got on hand. It's all tasty. The recipe also doubles easily, so you can snack on one loaf all week and freeze the other for later.

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