Persimmon Cake & A Natural Dyeing Workshop

I collected a few incredible experiences on a recent trip to Berkeley, San Francisco and suddenly life in Sydney seems to be reflecting those memories in a rather serendipitous way.

While in Berkeley last year my family and I were lucky enough to go for a special dinner at the famous Chez Panisse. A beautiful floral display in the cafe restaurant featured whole branches of Persimmon and it was the first time I’d come into contact with the fruit. I couldn’t resist trying a dish which had Persimmon in it and I’m so glad I did because it was absolutely mind blowing. Fast forward to a Sydney Autumn and I’m suddenly seeing persimmon in every green grocer and my brain is in overdrive trying to think of ways to use them in dishes at Bligh St. Bistro. And then one morning I wake up with a recipe idea that literally came to me in a dream. I must mention here that this has never happened before (I’m not usually a prophetic dreamer). That said, I wish I had more of these revelation dreams because this cake that I dreamt up was a hit, a simple tweak of a famous Claudia Rodin orange cake with sublime results. I thought I’d better share it with you to continue the cycle of magical happenstance and hope that something beautiful will come of you making it.

Persimmon Cake
• 500g Hachiya Persimmon puree
• 250g caster sugar
• 6 eggs
• 250g almond meal
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
• 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• A pinch of ground cloves
• 1 Tbsp lime juice
• 1 lime cut into wedges
Hachiya Persimmon are elongated acorn shaped persimmon which are ripe when they feel like a water balloon in your hand about to burst. When ripe the fruit turns a deep orange colour and the flesh looks jellied. Once ripe, remove the flesh from the Persimmon and blend in a food processor to make the puree for this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Line a 22cm springform cake tin with baking paper.
Beat the eggs and caster sugar together until well combined. Stir in the Persimmon puree, almond meal, baking powder, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove & lime juice. Bake for 1-1.5 hrs until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin.
Candied Persimmon
• 3 Fuyu Persimmon, sliced 5mm thick
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup water
Fuyu Persimmon are eaten when firm and look like a tomato, just orange and with a funny leaf on top.
Dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup water over gentle heat in a heavy based saucepan. Bring to the boil and add in sliced fruit, spreading out so all the fruit is covered with liquid. Simmer till slices are translucent (about 50 minutes). Cool slices on a drying rack. 
When serving the cake top each slice with a piece of candied persimmon and serve with a wedge of lime. Squeeze the lime juice over the top of the slice just before eating. You can also add a scoop of Duffy’s Perfect Vanilla Ice cream from this post
On that same trip to Berkeley I was also lucky enough to visit one of the most beautiful shops in Oakland, A Verb for Keeping Warm. It happen to be around the time that owner Kristine Vejar was launching her new book on natural dyeing. I met her at her book signing and got massively inspired by the incredible imagery in the book and wonderful colours achieved through natural dyeing. I bought a copy for my friend Cath at Prints Charming because I thought she might love it too. Now I am sitting here three days after a wonderful natural dyeing workshop at Cath’s studio and am marvelling at how Berkeley magic has trickled into Sydney life.
Here are a few images from the workshop.
Preparing a natural Indigo dye bath. A lot less smelly than the synthetic Indigo dye, win.
Beautiful Cochineal.
Dried Pomegranate skins boiled to create a dye.
Golden Magic – dyeing with turmeric.
Delicious fabrics all in a row. Isn’t it incredible that this is all natural colouring? We got really excited.
Some sweet treats to keep the energy levels up. Decadent chocolate truffles & mandarin and apricot amaretti by yours truly.
The most delicious treat of all was this beautiful embroidered, naturally dyed cloth by Prints Charming. Absolute magic!
It’s funny how things you come across at certain stages in life can suddenly appear later on, in a completely different context. Isn’t it kind of wonderful that every experience you gather through travel and daily adventure enriches you and the people around you. So I guess the moral of this post is to adventure every day and collect magic to spread to the people you know and love and if we all do a little more of that each day we will be rewarded by beautiful happenstance.

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