Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Persimmon Tea Cake

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It’s the season for persimmons! This is the time of year when persimmon lovers rejoice because persimmons are a sumptuous fruit, sweet and soft (or crunchy, depending on which you get).

Persimmons are a rather expensive fruit, so when I get my hands on some, I usually just eat them as fruit. However, recently a co-worker brought in a huge bag of persimmons from her own tree (how I wish I had one!). So, with that opportunity, I decided to try baking something with them.

So here now is my Persimmon Tea Cake. This is a dense but moist loaf that doesn’t IMG_1838need any embellishment. It’s great for an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee or tea.

Make sure that you use the larger Hachiya persimmons and not the smaller Fuyu. Fuyu are delicious to eat out of hand, but it remains somewhat hard and the pulp isn’t as soft and creamy when pureed. You can puree a bunch of persimmons and keep it tightly sealed in the freezer until you need it.

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Fully ripe persimmons

And while Fuyus can be eaten hard, Hachiyas most certainly cannot. Hachiyas are ready to be eaten when they are extremely soft and look like they’re on the verge of rotting. No, really. Hachiyas are astringent and if you eat them before they’re ready, I guarantee you that you will regret it and remember it as long as you live. Every drop of moisture in your mouth will dry up. I jokingly tell people that an unripe persimmon will dry up their whole head. Believe me, it will feel that way.

But once they’re soft and ready, their flavor and sweetness are sublime. Unfortunately, their flavor is also delicate and won’t come out strongly in cake. Rather, the cake will have an unusual, undefinable flavor, but absolutely pleasing. I’m working on a gluten-free version, so one of these days, I’ll post that recipe.

In the meantime, enjoy this one.

Persimmon Tea Cake

Makes 1 loaf.

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, preferably organic
2 large eggs
1 cup persimmon pulp (from about 3 medium-large persimmons)

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan, or line it with parchment paper (I like to do both for easy removal).

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In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Using an electric mixer or food processor, puree pulp until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in buttermilk and zests.

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With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add one egg and beat it in, then add the other one and beat it in.

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Mix in the persimmon pulp. Add the flour mixture in a little at a time and mix just until blended.

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Transfer to loaf pan and bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan and let cool completely.

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Bourbon-Coconut-Pumpkin Cake

I love having leftover pumpkin in the refrigerator because it prompts me to bake something new with it, and that’s one of the best things about the holidays. I’m not much of a pumpkin pie fan, but I love other baked goodies made with pumpkin.IMG_1820

This started off as a basic pumpkin cake, but I veered off a little and added a couple of items that I thought really brought it up a notch (or two): bourbon and coconut. The flavor and texture made it a huge hit. My only regret is that I didn’t get a shot of the cake after I’d iced it. I hope you all like it.

Enjoy!

Bourbon-Coconut-Pumpkin Cake

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup organic sugar or coconut sugar
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey

Icing

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Grease an 8-inch square or round cake pan (or line with parchment).

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.

In a large bowl, whip butter and sugar until fluffy (the consistency should be sort of like wet sand). IMG_1812

Gently mix in the pumpkin, coconut, eggs, and bourbon.

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Fold in the flour mixture.

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Spoon into pan and smooth out the top.

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Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out fairly dry (a couple of crumbs is okay), about 1 hour.

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Move to a wire rack and let cook 5 minutes. Invert it onto the rack, then invert it again to be top-up. (If you used parchment paper, you can just lift it right out of the pan.) Let cook completely.

Make icing: Combine sugar and 1 tablespoon bourbon in a small bowl and stir until smooth. If too thick, add a little more bourbon; if too thick, add more sugar. Pour over top, spreading it out so that it falls over the sides. Sprinkle coconut over the top.

Makes 1 10-inch cake.


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Meskouta (Moroccan Orange-Almond-Yogurt Cake)

The past few months, I’ve been working on a special project, which led me down the road of Moroccan cuisine and ended up at Meskouta. Meskouta is a traditional cake, usually made with yogurt (although I’ve seen a few recipes that did not use it). This is also known as “butterless cake” because it was created during the French/Spanish colonization in the early part of the 20th century, a period when butter was scarce and expensive.

There are many variations, the most popular of which is an orange version, which also seemed to frequently be the one that did not have yogurt in it. I also found some recipes that used almond flour and others that did not.

In the end, I took the elements that I wanted and created an entirely new version. Here it is.

Meskouta (Orange-Almond-Yogurt Cake)

 Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Meskouta

Meskouta

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup finely ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water or orange extract
1 tablespoon orange zest

Orange Syrup:
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

Garnish:
Orange strips
¼ cup almond slivers

Grease an 8- or 9-inch Bundt pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almonds, baking powder, cardamom, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar; add oil and yogurt, then add orange juice, blossom water or extract, and zest and blend.

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Add dry ingredients to wet and mix just until fully blended.

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Pour into Bundt pan and bake 45 to 60 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. Invert it onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.

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Meanwhile, make the syrup. Whisk together juice, cinnamon, and sugar in a small bowl.

When cake is cooled, poke holes all over the top with a toothpick or skewer. Pour syrup over the cake, letting it absorb. Sprinkle almond slivers over the top and decorate with orange slivers, if you like.

Refrigerate leftovers.

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