I am not an expert baker. But you don’t need to be to make this persimmon bread.
I love easy quick breads, breads where exactitude isn’t needed, and where you can play a bit with ingredients. Baking can be, well, persnickety, and in general I am too loose a cook to do it well. Especially pastry. But this sweet bread is right up my alley.
It is essentially James Beard’s walnut persimmon bread, from his classic book Beard On Bread. But I omitted the huge amount of brandy he adds — feel free to add up to 2/3 of a cup if you’d like — and made this recipe a bit wilder. I am, after all, a gatherer.
The persimmons were, er, “foraged” from my neighbor’s backyard tree; we don’t have Diospyros virginiana, the native American persimmon, here in the West. That is the best persimmon for making persimmon bread, in my opinion.
In this case, I used over-ripe fuyu, as well as perfectly ripe hachiya persimmons here, Japanese varieties widely available in California. I’d say hachiya are the second best persimmon for bread.
The fruit? Dried wild lingonberries from, well… if I told you I’d have to kill you. Any dried fruit works. “Craisins” are a great option, as are dried blueberries.
I also added homemade acorn flour to the bread, which adds an earthy touch and darkens the bread a bit. Chestnut flour, available in Italian markets, is the closest to this, but don’t get all hung on on making persimmon bread with acorn flour. It’s just me being me. Go ahead and use a little whole wheat, spelt, barley or rye flour.
As if this persimmon bread wasn’t weird enough, I subbed in wild, fresh rendered duck fat for half the butter. Yeah, I went there. It was good. And I am shiny-happy. Feel free to use all butter if you want. It’s also fantastic.
Net result? An addictive breakfast bread or accompaniment to coffee, or duck blind snack, in the deer stand or wherever.
Make this persimmon bread. It’s super easy, malleable to your ingredients, and it would make that icon of real American cooking, the late, great James Beard, a proud man.
Persimmon Bread with Nuts and Fruit
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup acorn flour, chestnut flour, or whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg or mace
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/2 cup duck fat or leaf lard, melted and cooled
- 4 eggs, slightly beaten
- 2 cups persimmon puree
- 2 cups chopped nuts (walnuts, hickory nuts, pecans)
- 2 cups dried fruit (raisins, lingonberries, cranberries, etc)
- Prep the pans. Butter two 9-inch loaf pans and then dust them with a little flour, shaking out any excess. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Mix the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flours, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and sugar.
- Mix the wet ingredients. Whisk together the cooled, melted butter and duck fat, the persimmon puree and the eggs.
- Make the batter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together. As you are doing this, add the nuts and fruit. Pour the batter into the loaf pans and bake for about 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out of the bread clean. Let rest a few minutes, then turn out gently onto cooling racks.