Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Mealtime Magic: Bill Smith's Persimmon Pound Cake (from Fruit: A Savor the South Cookbook)

I recently had a chance to review Fruit: A Savor the South Cookbook. It was a really neat cookbook to get to review. Written by Nancie McDermott, this book is both educational and mouth-watering. It contains recipes for a lot of fruits that aren't necessarily considered staples for most people - both native fruits like persimmons, pawpaws, and mayhaws; and non-native fruits used in Southern cooking like figs and quince.

Nancie does a good job including her take on more traditional comfort foods, and newer recipes that combine ingredients in more modern ways. There are plenty of desserts like pies and puddings, and also main dishes that use fruit to add a great savory-sweet blend. The area represented is quite large, including bluegrass country, the bayous, Smoky Mountains, and more - it makes for an eclectic collection full of flavor and variety.

From FRUIT: A Savor the South® cookbook
Copyright © 2017 by the University of North Carolina Press. 
Used by permission of the publisher
Bill Smith’s Persimmon Pound Cake
Makes one 10-inch cake
My friend Bill Smith loves the old-time pleasures of classic recipes.  His sense of culinary possibilities delights the regulars at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, NC. He serves tons of traditional persimmon pudding during the fall and winter but keeps his menu interesting by playing with nontraditional ways to enjoy the wild fruit.  I adore his persimmon pound cake, which bakes up with a sweet, toothsome crust and a dense, moist crumb.
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
4 large eggs
1 cup persimmon purée
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease a 10-inch tube pan or Bundt pan, using butter, shortening, or vegetable oil.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, and salt.  Using a whisk or fork, stir to mix everything together evenly and well.  Combine the buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl and stir well.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add the sugars and beat at high speed, stopping often to scrape the bowl, to combine ingredients evenly and well.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the persimmon purée and beat at low speed to incorporate it into the butter mixture.
Add half the flour mixture to the persimmon batter and use a large spoon or whisk to incorporate the flour just until it disappears into the batter.  Add half the buttermilk and stir well.  Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk, stirring and scraping gently, just enough to bring everything together into a smooth, evenly combined batter.  Don’t overmix.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until the cake rises, becomes firm and dry, and just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.  The cake should feel springy to the touch, and a knife blade or skewer inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.
Place the cake on a wire cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool to room temperature.  Serve accompanied if you wish by vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

You can find the book at IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Chronicle Books

Nancie McDermott is a cookbook author and cooking teacher fascinated by the people, stories, and places behind the food. A North Carolina native and graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, she loves exploring the history, culture, and distinctions within the regional cuisines of the American South. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, she also focuses on the cooking of Thailand and the culinary traditions of Southeast Asia. A contributing editor for Saveur and Edible Piedmont, Nancie writes for Southern Living, Fine Cooking, Cooks Illustrated, Bon Appetit, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. She also teaches cooking classes around the country. Nancie’s extensive television cooking experience includes leading the host of an Epicurious show around a Los Angeles Thai market for the Discovery Channel, and playing the Cake Detective on the Coconut Cake episode of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” on the Food Network. Her online video cooking classes are featured on Nancie’s cookbooks include Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations; Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes from Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan, and Southern Soups and Stews: From Gumbo and Burgoo to Etouffee and Fricasee. Nancie is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Les Dames d’Escoffier, the Association of Food Journalists, and the Southern Foodways Alliance. She lives with her family in Chapel Hill NC.

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