Get to know persimmons with this upside down cake

An interesting take on the traditional pineapple upside down cake is this version made with persimmons.

An interesting take on the traditional pineapple upside down cake is this version made with persimmons.

The first settlers who crossed the Appalachian Mountains found a beautiful amber-colored fruit growing wild in the fields and lightly wooded areas - the native American persimmon. This wonderful, sweet fruit ripens about mid-autumn, although old timers will tell you to wait until after the first frost before harvesting.

The pulp can be frozen and used in many delicious recipes throughout the year. Persimmon pudding is a well-known favorite. Another idea is to spoon the luscious orange pulp over vanilla ice cream. The flavor combination is wonderful.

I found a recipe for an “Upside Down Persimmon Cake” in a cookbook I have that is dedicated solely to wild persimmon recipes. As often happens, I was inspired to come up with my own version.

Persimmon trees are common, but you may have to compete with the neighborhood possums to gather the fruit. Persimmons should never be picked from the tree, but allowed to mature and fall in nature’s own good time. Those that survive the fall will be soft and sometimes split, but can be carefully picked from the ground and placed in a pan or container.

Persimmons are fragile and easily crushed, so don’t put more than one layer in your container as you gather them. You can either rinse and process them immediately, or freeze the whole fruit and process after thawing. Cut or pinch off the little brown stem on the bottom of each persimmon and place in a colander.

Work the fruit through the colander, leaving the seeds and skins to be discarded. You will be rewarded with a beautiful mound of orange colored pulp to use immediately or freeze for later.

Persimmon Upside Down Cake

4 Tablespoons of butter

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

1 ½ cups persimmon pulp

Yellow cake mix

Using either a small cake pan (square or small rectangular) or a 10 inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter and stir in the sugars. Cover with pulp.

Prepare the cake mix as directed on package and pour over all. You’ll have some cake batter left over for cupcakes.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until cake tests done, about 30 minutes. Turn out onto prepared platter or plate.

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