Persimmon Macadamia Nut Cake (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
We got back from our honeymoon (!!!) last Monday at midnight and I'm proud to say that we have, indeed, unpacked everything (except my purple Bagu bag of flowy kimonos and pretty bikinis that I'm just not ready to pack up for next-Summer wear). I can't remember the last time I actually unpacked all of my stuff after a long trip. Usually I half-unpack, half reference that OG bag of junk for weeks whenever I have that spidey-sense that I must be forgetting something (half a bottle of sunscreen, my hairbrush, chapstick, and deodorant are often all on the list of never-leave-the-travel-bag). The rest of my post-wedding house is a complete wreck. A clean wreck, though, mostly consisting of piles and piles of bags ready to head out to the shed or Salvation Army. Bags full of wooden trivets and candlesticks and jars rolled in glitter. Party spoils.
While we were away in Hawaii, getting in touch with all the best smells on this tiny blue water planet, I kindled a previously unexplored fire of love for macadamia nuts. Eating one of those little nut nuggets feels sort of like popping a ball of butter in your mouth. And I like that.
I also re-stoked an appreciation for totally lazy beach nap-fests. I used to live right next to the beach, growing up. It was always there, and I went often enough. But not with the sort of passion I see in the eyes of true beach bums. You know, oiled-up, bronze, bleached-out sand-surfers who ride both waves and time in the sun with a crinkle-eyed ease. Who pack their coolers early in the AM with coconut water, ice, and sandwiches and hit the shore so as to catch the sunrise and the empty wave sets. They way they look at and talk about the beach is the way some city girls are about their purse dogs (infatuated). I feel like I took a toe-dip into full-on admiration of beach life during our trip. I could check out of life and lay on beaches reading Neil Gaiman novels for at least a couple of months a year, no question.
But then, of course, I wouldn't make persimmon cakes, now would I?
Persimmons are under appreciated, I find. I'm not 100% sure why, but I have an inkling that it's because Americans don't know that asian persimmons are not tannic like the native North American varieties. Which means you can bite into them like you would an apple even when they're underripe. I collected a bunch from the persimmon tree on our property and used them on our wedding reception tables. They looked like gorgeous, glowing, squat, orange fruit lanterns (maybe just to me?). Which means I introduced them to about half of our guests, who weren't sure what that strange, hard fruit was. I didn't realize that would happen, but it was really fun, in retrospect, to get to expand peoples awareness of new foods. I highly recommend using sturdy, unusual fruit as table decorations forever and always. It's a conversation starter and it makes a fun take-home gift at the end of the night, too (an unexpected consequence of fruit everywhere is people clearing the tables by taking fruit home -- awesome!).
Oh, this cake? It's moist and sweet, but low sugar enough to eat any time of day (the main reason I make cakes with coconut sugar). The persimmons have a light sweetness to them, which reminds me of vanilla sugar. It makes them a great pair for almost any fruit or sweet spice. They fall on the apple spectrum, in my mind. As in, I could probably use them in anything I would normally or otherwise use apples in. I imagine caramel dipped persimmons would be so good it would hurt. The cake, with lil nugs of buttery macadamia and aromatic vanilla, is superior to most other fruit-based cakes I've yet had. The batter is also flexible in that it's my new standard gluten free "white cake" base. It would be stellar with apple and almond and cinnamon, pear and walnut, kumquat and lavender, cherry and pine nuts, or apricot and hazelnut. I'd love to see a squash iteration too! Like delicata squash with a touch of maple. Damn.
Persimmon Macadamia Nut Cake (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
- 120 g (3/4 cup) sorghum flour
- 70 g (1/2 cup) white rice flour
- 40 g (1/3 cup) almond meal
- 40 g (1/2 cup) arrowroot starch
- ½ cup unsweet coconut flakes
- 1 tablespoon psyllium (whole or powdered)
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 100 g (1 cup) coconut sugar + 2 teaspoons
- 1 & ¼ cup almond milk (I used Califia Farms coconut almond blend)
- ½ cup melted coconut oil or ghee
- 1 & ½ cup unsweet applesauce
- 2 organic or farm fresh eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 fuyu persimmons, sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds
- 1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
- *confectioners sugar (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 325F. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: sorghum flour, white rice flour, almond meal, arrowroot starch, coconut, psyllium, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and 100g coconut sugar.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients: almond milk, applesauce, eggs, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk together until you have a relatively uniform mix.
- Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and fold the mixture together gently. Add the second half of the wet mix to the dry mix and stir gently to combine. Add macadamia nuts, and fold into the batter. Let rest 20 minutes.
- Fill your loaf tins ¼ of the way full with batter.
- Place 4-5 persimmon slices over the batter, overlapping the slices, and sprinkle a pinch of coconut sugar over the slices.
- Fill each tin to ¾ full with the remaining batter.
- Arrange 4-5 persimmon slices over the top of your batter in an overlapping arrangement. Sprinkle your persimmons with the remaining coconut sugar.
- Bake on the upper middle rack for 55 minutes, until golden brown and a sharp knife inserted into the center of the loaves comes out clean.
- Let cool 20 minutes before removing from your tin, or serving.
- (Optional) Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of your loaf (or individual slices) to serve.