In “oven-less” places like rural parts of Kenya or the Sahara Desert in North Africa, baking cakes with charcoal and sand or steaming cakes on a kerosene burner is a different cooking experience from my usual experience baking in my California kitchen. Slow “baking” at consistent temperature creates such a fluffy texture that every bite of the cake feels like walking on the snow in the beautiful winter. In the San Francisco bay area, where a white Christmas is only in the imagination, I’m making a steamed persimmon sherry cake decorated with snow flake this week. Fully ripe, intensely orange Hachiya persimmons are awesome for the holidays. Not only do they have the deliciously blended fruit flavors of apricot, apple, and pear, but they also add a creamy texture, rich flavor and sweet moistness to the cake. I am so psyched that they are everywhere in California now.
To start, I de-stem and peel off skins of two large, very ripe (i.e. mushy when touched) Hachiya persimmons and mash them with a spoon to make one cup of persimmon puree. Next, I melt 1 stick butter (1/2 cup) and blend it with ¾ cup sugar and 1 egg. Separately, I sift 1 cup flour and mix with 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon sea salt. Then, in a large bowl, I blend in everything together, along with ¼ cup oloroso sherry, ¼ cup milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Next, I coat the cake pan with butter and pour the batter. Then, I cover the top with aluminum foil and put the cake pan inside a pot which is half-covered with boiling water (making a double boiler). Finally, I put a lid on the pot and simmer for 2.5 hours. When the cake is done (i.e. spongy when touched), I cool it until it is lukewarm and then unmold. Finally, I place the cake on a green plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
This cake is truly outstanding! The texture is so airy, light and fluffy that a bite makes you feel like you’re floating in the water. And, what a complex layers of flavor it has! The blend of persimmons and Oloroso sherry, which is made from Palomino grapes in Jerez, Spain, adds a depth of rich, intense aprocoty, raisiny flavors with a touch of spice. Mmm…..so good…… if you like persimmons, check out my other persimmon recipe, here. If you are a sherry fan, I also have another sherry recipe you may be interested in, here. If you want to read it on Forbes, here is the link. Enjoy this holiday recipe. I wish everyone very Happy Holidays!