Persimmon-Thyme Upside Down Cake
It's finally persimmon season and I couldn't be happier. Hurrah! Finally, finally, FINALLY. It's funny because growing up, persimmons weren't my favorite. This is crazy because I grew up near Hashimoto Persimmon Farm and they have the BEST persimmons. However, thankfully, I grew out of that stage and now I love 'em. I think you either love them, hate them, or only like a certain variety. I personally love Fuyus. They're cute, squat, mildly sweet (almost have a honey quality), and are best eaten while they're still firm and crunchy.
I also recently discovered the amazing Tsurunoko "Chocolate Persimmons," which I had every intention of adding to this upside down cake but somehow they didn't make it because I ate all of them...whoops! If you haven't heard of Tsurunoko's let me educate you a little because they're new to me too. They have deeper red-orange skins, are ovoid, and have this amazing speckled brown flesh that really does have chocolate notes. It's best eaten when a tiny bit soft but is absolutely wonderful when it's still firm (like a Fuyu). This is why they never made it into my upside down cake. I tried them firm, then a little riper, and all of a sudden all four were gone.
In the photo below, you can see the difference between the skins and shapes of the Fuyus (far right and left)and the Tsurunoko (middle). I sliced up the Tsurunoko, so you can see the beautiful brown cocoa speckles (and then I ate all the slices...!!).
I don't know about you but when I think of an upside down cake, I think of pineapple. I also think of one my best friends in the world, because she makes a mean one. I believe they were designed to promote canned pineapples way back when but they are fantastic because you can vary them up as you choose. You can make them with plums, peaches, apricots, or even persimmons! I chose to add some thyme, partly because I thought the thyme would compliment the sweet honey-pumpkin-like flavor of the Fuyus and partly because we've got a giant wine barrel that's exploding with thyme. Feel free to swap out the thyme with sage or rosemary, or omit it all together.
I made this cake to bring to a meeting for the incredible LA Cake Club!!! Yes, it's a b.y.o. homemade cake club and it was founded by Sara (check out her blog, Matchbox Kitchen). I was actually a little nervous to go since I'm new to LA and was going in not really knowing anyone. I confided my apprehensions/anxieties to a girlfriend and her response was somewhere along the lines of, "I feel like all people who bake are sweet." Thank goodness my worries were completely unfounded. One of Moses' former coworkers and her sweet friend were there to introduce me to some awesome (super sweet) ladies and I met a few more on my own, like Lynn from The Actor's Diet. It was so much fun to see all the beautiful treats everyone baked up, then eat them (in real life because let's face it, Instagram leaves me hungry 9xs/10), and meet a ton of lovely women (and men) who love to bake too! Already looking forward to the next meeting...now, the difficult choice of deciding what to bake. ;)
Persimmon-Thyme Upside Down Cake
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Makes one 9-inch cake
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- Up to 3/4 c. light brown sugar (I used around 2/3 c.)
- 4-5 firm (but somewhat ripe) Fuyu or Tsurunoko persimmons, peeled and sliced (and pitted) into 1/4" slices
- 2 large eggs (room temp.)
- 3 Tbsp. and 5 Tbsp. (separated) buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 1 c. all purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. cornmeal
- 3/4 c. granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- Stand mixer
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Mixing bowls
- Small saucepan
- Silicone spatula
- 9" parchment paper round
- 9" springform pan w/high sides
- Cutting board
- Chef's knife
- Paring knife
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line springform pan with parchment round then pour melted butter into the bottom of pan, tilting as necessary to coat bottom evenly.
- Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over bottom of pan, sprinkling up to 3/4 c.
- Arrange persimmon slices atop the butter-sugar mixture, creating the pattern of your choice but making sure to cover the entire bottom of the pan. (If you're looking to create the same pattern as I did, make sure to start in the center, then layer out.) Set pan aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, 3 Tbsp. buttermilk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste and set aside.
- Add all purpose flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and thyme to the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk together quickly on low.
- Next add 6 Tbsp. of soften butter and 5 Tbsp. of buttermilk and mix on low until flour mixture is moistened. Immediately turn the speed up to medium-low and beat of about a minute and a half. Your batter should be stiff. Scrape down sides.
- Add egg mixture in thirds, beating for about 20 seconds for each addition, and scraping down sides with spatula in between.
- Pour batter over fruit lined pan and spread evenly.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove pan from oven and let cool for 5 minutes then detach outer ring. Cool for another 5 minutes then invert onto a plate and carefully peel away parchment.
- Serve and enjoy!