Autumn is my favorite season. I know up north people long for spring to free them from winter's ice and snow, but in North Florida we long for autumn to free us from summer's brutal heat and humidity. This week the weather finally turned, and we enjoyed crisp nights and comfortable days again. When I was at the farmers market I saw another sign of autumn, tables piled high with persimmons. That mean's it's time for me to start baking, and time to once again share a recipe from Smuggler's Bride, a book where a savvy young woman realized if you're not going to use a knife to get to a man's heart, then you might try what kidnapped heiress Julia Delarue does, cooking her way into the good graces of smuggler Rand Washburn:
“I have to hunt and fish to keep food on the table,” Rand said. “I can’t be spendin’ all day doin’ women’s work!”
“If it is women’s work, it is not work this woman ever did. At the estate where I lived there were laundresses who did the cleaning for the entire household. I can cook better than you can, but it seems to me that if you have experience doing laundry, then you can continue to do a better job than I would. Not to mention that if I am spending all my time doing laundry I won’t have time to make the pork pie I was planning for dinner. With persimmon cake for dessert.”
There was something wrong with this logic, Rand knew it, but he couldn’t come up with a good argument. It became even harder to think about it when Julia waltzed past him into the house carrying a plate and leaving behind an aroma of griddle cakes, syrup, and woman.
Preheat oven to 325F
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup margarine or butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 cup persimmon pulp--approx. six small very ripe Florida persimmons
½ cup chopped pecans
To get persimmon pulp: Take very ripe persimmons, cut in half, scoop pulp out. Remove pithy seed area, pulse a few times in food processor.
1. Stir together dry ingredients
2. cream sugar and butter, add eggs, add dry ingredients, pulp and nuts.
3. pour mixture into standard loaf pan (grease and flour pan, if not nonstick model), bake 1.25 hours. Let cool ten minutes, remove from pan.
Freezes well. You can also try baking it at 350F for 1 hour, depending on your oven.