We traveled by plane, rail and car from Tokyo to Kyoto, exploring the cities and wandering the countryside between the two. This trip has sparked my curiosity in Japanese cooking, so you’ll likely see more recipe posts around this theme in the months ahead. But for this week, we arrived home on the cusp of Thanksgiving and I couldn’t miss my annual blog tradition of sharing recipes to inspire your winter feasting. Now that it’s finally cooled down here in Hawaii, I can comfortably crank up my oven and embark on all the holiday roasting, braising and baking. This is my favorite time of year in the kitchen.
- Astringent Persimmons:
- Hachiya: Hachiya persimmons are one of the most well-known astringent varieties. They are large, acorn-shaped fruits with a smooth and shiny skin. When unripe, Hachiya persimmons are extremely astringent, but as they ripen and soften, they become sweet and custard-like in texture. They are often used in baking, cooking, and for making hoshigaki (dried persimmons).
- Gosho/Giant Fuyu: This is another variety of astringent persimmon. It is similar in shape to the Hachiya but larger. It has a pointed base and is typically elongated. Like Hachiya, it needs to be fully ripe to be enjoyed.
- Amagaki: This is a smaller, round, and flattened variety of astringent persimmon. It is known for its sweet and spicy flavor when fully ripe.
- Non-Astringent Persimmons:
- Fuyu: Fuyu persimmons are the most common non-astringent variety. They are squat and round, resembling a slightly flattened tomato. Fuyu persimmons are crisp and can be eaten while still firm. They have a sweet, mild flavor and are often enjoyed fresh as a snack or in salads. These are the kind I’m working with in the cake recipe below.
- Jiro: Similar to Fuyu, Jiro persimmons are non-astringent and can be eaten while still firm. They have a sweet and mild flavor.
When making this spiced persimmon upside down cake, you’ll want to select a non-astringent persimmon. The smaller fuyu persimmons that are still firm are the best for this recipe. Slice them horizontally and layer them across the bottom of the springform pan to get the visuals of these vibrant fruits. If they’re too soft to slice, try making a jam or this raw vegan cake recipe as an alternative.
Our Thanksgiving Menu
Herbal Spiced Apple Cider
Coriander Carrot Soup with Carrot Top Chutney
Roasted Sweet Potato & Radicchio Salad
Blistered Green Beans with Preserved Lemon
Celeriac Parsnip Mash
Ghee Roasted Chicken
Kabocha Squash Pie
Spiced Persimmon Upside Down Cake (recipe below)
If you’re looking for more recipe ideas, explore a decade of Thanksgiving Guides on the blog: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 & 2022. Whether you’re going full veggie this year, or peppering in a few side dishes and desserts, you’ll find dozens of plant-forward sweet and savory recipes to enjoy.
SPICED PERSIMMON UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
3-4 ripe Fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced into ¼” thick rounds
¼ cup ghee
½ cup maple syrup
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
First, grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Prepare the persimmon topping. In a small saucepan, melt 1/4 cup of ghee over medium heat. Add maple syrup, orange juice and vanilla extract. Simmer on a medium-low heat to reduce the mixture until it’s thick and caramel-like, stirring occasionally so it does not burn. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan, cover the bottom evenly. Arrange the sliced persimmons on top of the caramel in a circular pattern. Set aside.
1 ½ cups spelt flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
½ cup almond flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp ground clove
1 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
½ cup ghee, softened
1 ¼ cup coconut sugar (or organic brown sugar)
2 large organic eggs (or 2 flax eggs – 2 tbsp ground flax whisked with 6 tbsp water)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp orange zest
1 cup organic unsweetened dairy-free milk
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Prepare the cake batter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the spelt or gluten-free flour, the almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the softened ghee and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
Carefully spoon the batter over the arranged persimmons in the cake pan, spreading it evenly. Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the cake pan on top of the lined baking sheet (this will catch any gooey caramel that leaks out of the bottom of the cake pan while baking!). Place in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake pan and carefully invert the cake onto the plate. Let the cake cool completely before slicing. Serve with your favorite mug of tea.
Yield: 8 slices (one 9-inch cake)