one of the joys of living in the south is the unique variety of fruits native to the area. from blackberries and paw paws to scuppernongs, there is no shortage of treasures to hunt while out hiking. if you are really lucky, you will find a persimmon tree nearby. personally, i have two in my yard and several neighbors with them as well. each fall, after that first frost, you will find my husband and me out back gathering the little orange fruits. actually, i gather them, he just eats them.
native persimmons are small, about the size of a walnut in its shell or smaller. with a flavor reminiscent of dates, they are full of large seeds. and unless you want the shock of a lifetime, only eat them if they are dark orange and squishy soft. otherwise, they are so astringent you will literally feel the insides of your cheeks adhere to the surface of your teeth. the best thing to do is collect the fruit you find on the ground under the tree since those will be so ripe that they have fallen from the branches. wash them and drain well, then run them through a food mill not a food processor because of the seeds. their small size means it will take a lot of them to get any kind of volume. during the fall, after that first frost, i make weekly trips to the trees in my yard and neighborhood to gather the fruit. each bounty is washed, pureed and placed into sealed bags and stored in the freezer until i need it. the puree thaws quickly so i am always ready if the yen for a persimmon cake strikes. however, on the occasion that my stash runs out, a puree of sweet potato or pumpkin can easily take its place. —janeofmanytrade
to make the glaze, place the butter into a small saute pan and melt it over low heat. when melted, add the maple syrup, brown sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. raise the heat a little to bring the mixture to a boil. boil gently for 1 minute.
preheat the oven to 350. grease an 8" cake pan. pour the glaze into the cake pan and tilt the pan to coat the bottom evenly. sprinkle the walnuts evenly over the glaze and set the pan aside while you prepare the cake.
to make the cake, cream the butter with the brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a mixing bowl until it gets lighter in color and a little fluffy.
add the egg, scrape the bowl and mix well.
add the persimmon puree, scrape the bowl and combine the ingredients so that no streaks of a different color remain.
place the flour and baking powder in a sifter and sift it over the top of the batter in the bowl. fold the flour in a few times but not completely.
sprinkle the buttermilk over the batter and fold together until completely combined. scrape the batter into the prepared pan carefully so that you do not disturb the walnuts. using a small decorating spatula, spread the batter evenly in the pan taking the time to smooth out the top of the cake.
bake in the center of the oven until a tester inserted in the cake comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.
place a serving plate upside down over the top of the cake. carefully invert the cake onto the plate. allow the pan to remain for a moment so the nuts and syrup can drip out. remove the cake pan and if any nuts have stuck to it, scrape them out and cover the naked spots on the cake with them. allow the cake to sit for about 15-20 minutes before serving.