Here’s an absolutely delicious “spice bread” recipe which is just right for the holiday season. It comes from my across-the-street neighbor, Kathy. The bread blends pungent persimmons with a combination of spices — cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice — to make a moist, dense and perky quick bread. For many years, another favorite Cajun neighbor treated us to a small loaf of pumpkin bread every Christmas. I remember Essie with great fondness during the holiday season for all of her kind deeds. And so I am making Kathy’s “Persimmon Spice Bread” to use as Christmas and Hanukah gifts. As a bonus, this is quite a healthy bread and the recipe includes a “secret ingredient.”
In addition to a very tasty bread, it is healthy, too. Persimmons are loaded with nutritional value –especially beta carotene (Vitamin A precursor) and anti-oxidants. Plus the pecans or walnuts in the recipe are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially ALAs. Both ingredients are help boost our immune system. The recipe uses oil rather than butter to lower the cholesterol value.
The “secret ingredient” in Kathy’s recipe is crystalized pure cane sugar. What’s that? Basically, it is sugar cane which has been centrifuged only once so that is less refined than other sugars. It is slightly golden in color and has a fruity and molasses flavor. It handles like refined sugar in recipes making it a delicious addition to baked goods.
Louisiana cane sugar types
Sugar cane is a important agricultural product in the southern part of Louisiana. Various types of sugar are derived from sugar cane. To make these sugars, huge cane stalks are harvested in the fall. The stalks are crushed and the juice is heated, boiled and concentrated into a syrup. Next, it is placed in a centrifuge to separate out the molasses which settles to the bottom. The sugar crystals are dried and packaged.
Pure crystalized cane sugar (unrefined) is centrifuged only once and it separates out most, but not all, of the molasses. The sugar crystals are slightly golden in color with a mild, fruity aroma. “Crystalized pure cane sugar” is good for using in baking as it is similar to refined sugar with a slightly molasses flavor.
Refined sugar undergoes a second centrifugation to purify it completely of the molasses. Brown sugar typically is refined sugar with has some molasses added back to it. Demerara, turbinado and “Sugar in the Raw” are are single crystallization sugars with large, well-formed crystals. Because of the type of centrifugation process, the sugar crystals are larger and more free flowing making them great for decoration of baked goods.
Kathy used “crystalized pure cane sugar” in this recipe adding a slight molasses flavor. Where can you find this sugar? No need to shop at a specialty store, or the internet, Kathy found this brand, Morea Pure Cane Sugar, for the recipe at Walmart!
This fall, I froze several of my backyard hachiya persimmons because I had more persimmons that I could use at the time they were ripe. However, it’s a good practice to cook frozen fruit up sooner rather than later. So I defrosted the persimmons for this recipe. The gelatinous pulp worked well in the bread batter. If you don’t have persimmons, substitute an equal amount of pumpkin pulp.
Old-Fashioned Kitchen Gadget: Food Mill
Kathy used an old-fashioned food mill for mashing the persimmons. If you happen to have one of these kitchen gadgets, this recipe a good use for it. A food mill crushes and mashes soft foods — such as tomatoes, persimmons and cooked apples, potatoes, plums — forcing them through the sieve and small holes of the bottom plate. The skins and seeds remain behind and the pulp is homogenized up. The soft pulp is collected in a bowl placed under the food mill. The food mill is great for this recipe since you want the persimmon pulp without any seeds or skin.
This is a “quick bread” recipe meaning it doesn’t contain yeast. The result is a moist and dense bread. However, you can slice and pick up a piece — it doesn’t crumble like a piece of cake. This is an easy recipe to mix up — much easier than making yeast bread. Although you could mix up the batter by hand, I used an electric mixer to beat everything together.
To make the recipe, mix together the eggs, oil and sugar until well blended using an electric mixer. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices. Add to the “wet” ingredients along with the persimmon pulp and water. Lastly, stir in the chopped nuts (either pecans or walnuts). I made a double batch this time and used six mini-loaf pans. The printed recipe yields 3 mini-loaf pans. Very easy!
The aroma of this spicy bread while it was baking is quite tempting. After the loaves cooled, I added a bit of icing (to serve as glue) and a few decorations. Then cut and serve.
We are fortunate to have great neighbors. Essie was a wonderful Cajun friend. She loved to cook and entertain her family and friends. We were often treated to her goodies which she passed over the backyard fence to us. Kathy’s family is Hungarian in ancestry. Guess what, Hungarians are great cooks (and neighbors) too. So, we will enjoy and share Kathy’s recipe for “Persimmon Spice Bread.”
Persimmon Spice Bread by Katrhy Ulkins
- 1-1/2 cups crystallized pure cane sugar (unrefined)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup persimmon pulp (from 4 ripe Hatachi persimmons)
- 1-3/4 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Method and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 1 loaf pan ( 9 x 5 x 3″) or 3 mini-loaf pans.
- Peel and mash persimmons, eliminating seeds. using a mood mill is handy for this.
- Mix together well the sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl..
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Then add to wet mix.
- Add persimmon pulp to the batter, stirring until mixed in.
- Add water and nuts and stir until combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake for 50 to 60 minutes for large loaf and 35 – 40 minutes for mini-loaves.
- Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack. Then run knife around edges of loaf to loosen and remove from pan.
- If desired, decorate. Combine 1 Tbsp confectioners sugar with 1 tsp lemon juice to make a glue. Add a dollop to top of loaf. Attach whole cinnamon clove, candied ginger and star anise pod.
NOTE: Very easy to double this recipe, just double all the ingredients for 2 regular loaf pans or 6 small ones.