By Carrie Clough
Use Fuyu instead of Hachiya persimmons for slicing—though you can always experiment with over-ripe Hachiyas or even
Chocolate Persimmons by adding a purée to the cake batter or making a sauce instead of the balsamic topping. It will make the
cake a bit denser to add persimmon purée, and this is already a rich dessert, but it is still fun to experiment. Especially if you have a lot of persimmons on hand!
BALSAMIC CARAMEL TOPPING
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
4 Fuyu persimmons, sliced ¼ inch thick
9-inch round cake pan with 3-inch deep
1½ cups organic wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons organic cornmeal or
3 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon powdered cloves
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, slightly softened
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons Succanat or
4 large free-range eggs, separated at room temperature
2/3 cup milk
BALSAMIC CARAMEL: Grease cake pan well with butter and set aside. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir a little but allow sugar to have direct heat. Add the balsamic vinegar (which will keep the sugar from crystalizing) and stir until the mixture bubbles just slightly and turns lighter in color. Pour the mixture into the cake pan, evenly distributing the caramel. Arrange the persimmon slices in concentric circles over the caramel (you can leave the center open or even use less fruit if you like—or experiment with your design!)
CAKE: Heat oven to 350° and move oven rack to center position. Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and spices) in a medium bowl. Cream the butter in a standing mixer and gradually add the Succanat or organic sugar and beat until mixture looks light and fluffy. Add the yolks one at a time until incorporated. Then turn the mixer to lowest setting and begin alternating dry ingredients and milk, ending with dry ingredients, until combined and smooth. Do this swiftly so as not to over-mix.
Beat the egg whites in a nonreactive bowl with a hand mixer (or standing mixer) until foamy. Gradually add 2 tablespoons Succanat or sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold a 1/3 of egg whites Into cake batter to lighten, then fold in remaining whites until combined (you can turn the bowl to make this easier, and be sure to reach the bottom of the bowl).
Pour the batter carefully into the cake pan, spreading evenly over the fruit. Bake for about 60 minutes, undisturbed, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cake will be deeply golden. Once out of the oven, rest cake for a couple of minutes. Using a knife, loosen the cake around the edges of the pan. Place a cake platter upside down on top of the cake pan, then invert onto the platter and slowly remove the cake pan.