Persimmons, much like our yoga practice, can take what seems to be forever to ripen. If we push too soon, our bodies, our minds (and yes, our permissions) are hard and inflexible. Our movements - not easily digestible mentally or physically and (in the case that a persimmon is thrown at you) injury causing.
It takes time to ripen. It takes time to tune in, draw our awareness inwards, deepen our attentions to our subtler senses. Our goals always seem to be just that. GOALS. If I can just nail that pose, I will be done. But that’s never it. The beautiful thing about yoga, is that one can practice for forever. There is always and consistently something to learn in each pose. You can always move deeper into Virabhadrasana 2 (warrior 2) even after the front leg is properly externally rotated and your torso is straight as a board. Where can you soften to explore more? What can you give up so you can gain strength somewhere else?
The yoga sutras tell us at the asana, our physical practice, is at once steady yet full of ease. Strong yet soft. Comfortable but concentrated. What can you let go of?
In making this cake, I had to let go of the expectation that fruit should ripen at least within a week. I purchased a case of persimmons at Costco a few weeks before Christmas when they are most frequently in the store. I figured they would ripen in a week, I would let them get extremely soft and make an exceptionally sweet fruit cake for Christmas.
Unfortunately for me, that was not the case. These suckers took SIX WEEKS to ripen. (Yes, I realize this post is extremely dated.) These things happen when one doesn’t buy local I suppose. But consider this a forewarning to those of you who hear next hear the siren call of this bright orange fleshy fruit. Much like achieving handstand, in waiting for a permission to ripen we must practice our patience for a long time, without break and in all earnestness. And just when you think it’s ripe with a touch of give, wait longer. We want them mushy and what we would consider overripe. This is when the sugars are at it’s sweetest.
This recipe is from Beard on Bread by James Beard. It’s an excellent book to have in your repertoire. My big brother gave it to me over 10 years ago and I still take the time to flip through it. You can also see the recipe here at David Leibowitz. It makes two 9-inch loaves. You can also make a round cake or muffins with the batter. I used a scant two cups of sugar because my fruit was so ripe it was basically crystalized. Enjoy!
3½ cups sifted flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 to 2½ cups sugar
1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Cognac, bourbon or whiskey
2 cups persimmon puree (from about 4 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons)
2 cups walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped
2 cups raisins, or diced dried fruits (such as apricots, cranberries, or dates
1. Butter 2 loaf pans. Line the bottoms with a piece of parchment paper or dust with flour and tap out any excess.
2. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC) degrees.
3. Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
4. Make a well in the center then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree then the nuts and raisins (optional).
5. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Storage: Wrap in foil after cooling. They will keep 1-2 weeks. Wrap firmly in foil and plastic wrap to freeze.