Make Ahead

Spiced Persimmon Olive Oil Cake

November  9, 2010
1 Ratings
  • Serves 10 to 12
Author Notes

When I recently found myself with an abundance of Fuyu persimmons, I figured the best way to make my way through the mother lode would be to find ways to bake them into something sweet. My first thought was of one of my very favorite recipes ever, the Zucchini Olive Oil Cake from Gina DePalma at Babbo Ristorante in New York City. Her cake is pretty much flawless, so I was a little hesitant to mess with the recipe, but I held my breath and tinkered and came up with this cake, which gets more of its sweetness from the fruit and is great with just a dusting of powdered sugar. (Okay, and maybe a little whipped cream wouldn't hurt either.) I like the whole wheat flour because it adds nice texture, but you can go with 100% all-purpose flour if you prefer. Fuyu persimmons are essential, though, as they have the right texture for grating. This cake makes for a good, not-to-sweet snacking cake and, dusted with powdered sugar, looks fancy enough for dessert. Bake it the night before, and it turns into an easy, delicious breakfast. —vvvanessa

Test Kitchen Notes

This cake is a delightful choice to ring in the cold weather when persimmons are at their peak. I loved everything about this cake; all of the tiny touches -- the brightly colored grated fruit, the bit of whole-wheat flour, the freshly grated ginger, and roasted ground pecans combined with a bright, bold olive oil –- add up to one delicious cake with an enchanting melody of flavors. A note to cooks: the fruit does add a lot of sweetness –- experiment with cutting the sugar down if you want the fruit sugars to shine through. I used half the recommended amount and it came out wonderfully. —thebreukelenlife

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons /1 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups /6 1/2 ounces plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup /2 1/4 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup /7 ounces light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably one that is full-bodied and fruity
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated peeled ginger
  • 2 1/2 cups /about 10 ounces grated Fuyu persimmon (about 4 small persimmons; use the large holes of a box grater)
  • 1 cup /4 ounces finely ground toasted pecans
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously butter a minimum 10-cup capacity bundt pan, then add 2 tablespoons flour to the pan and coat the entire interior with the flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients (not the sugar, though) and set them aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high until they are thickened, about 5 minutes (the mixture will fall from the beater in a narrow ribbon).
  4. Scrape the mixture off the beater and into the mixing bowl, then switch to the whisk attachment. With the mixer on medium speed, add the olive oil in a slow stream to incorporate it into the egg and sugar mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla and ginger and whisk for a few seconds more.
  5. Add in the dry ingredients, and mix on low just to combine. Raise the speed to medium and continue to mix for another 30 seconds. Fold in the persimmons and nuts to distribute them evenly.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan, and smooth out the top. Bake on the center rack for 45-50 minutes, rotating the pan about 20 minutes into baking. The cake is done when the cake tests clean in the deepest part of the pan.
  7. Cool the cake for about 10 minutes then invert it onto a wire rack to finish cooling. To dress the cake up a bit for dessert, put the powdered sugar in a fine sieve and, tapping the rim of the sieve, dust the sugar over the cake. Slice and serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • DebJ
  • Ariane
  • LeeLeeBee
  • Marian Bull
    Marian Bull
  • healthierkitchen

26 Reviews

DebJ December 1, 2014
Loved this cake-great spicyness, loved the texture! While I had the amount of persimmons listed in the recipe, I didn't notice a specific "taste." Not having had persimmons before, I wasn't sure what to expect. I certainly will make this again... how much zucchini do you add if you want to change up the vegetable/fruit?
vvvanessa December 2, 2014
The persimmons don't have a very strong flavor to me; they're sweet and little apple-y, and most of the flavor comes from the spices and olive oil. I would sub in an equal amount of zucchini, squeezing out any excess liquid. You could also try carrots or apples or a mix of both! I'm glad you like the cake, and want to mix it up a bit.
Ariane November 30, 2014
Just made the cake again, this time replacing the whole wheat flour with regular old all-purpose, and I love it even more! This recipe is such a keeper, vvvanessa! :) xo
vvvanessa December 2, 2014
Thanks so much, Ariane! I'm glad the all-purpose worked for you! I sometimes make it with white whole wheat, which I also like a lot. I appreciate the feedback!
Ariane November 16, 2014
Made this today from a bounty of persimmons, and took to lunch at a friend's house. came out great, but I wonder about the whole wheat flour and replacing it with regular next time around. I could taste it, which is a funny thing. Any thoughts, vvvanessa?
vvvanessa November 18, 2014
You can definitely use 100% all-purpose flour or just a smaller amount of whole wheat balanced out by a little extra all-purpose. I'm glad you tried the cake and (mostly) liked it!
LeeLeeBee June 21, 2013
As suggested, I cut the sugar in half, and the cake was great!
vvvanessa November 16, 2013
I'm glad you enjoyed it!
vvvanessa November 18, 2014
Just a heads up that I've tweaked the recipe from what I originally posted, so LeeLee Bee is talking about cutting the sugar down to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, not cutting it in half from the 1 cup of brown sugar that is now listed as the ingredient.
Kaja1105 February 2, 2013
I made this cake a couple of months ago when a friend had given me a bunch of persimmons from her tree, and it was excellent! (I've made the fantastic olive oil zucchini cake too, and this is a worthy variation.)
vvvanessa February 3, 2013
Thank you! I'm really glad you had a good experience with it!
Marian B. January 21, 2013
This looks amazing!
vvvanessa February 3, 2013
Thank you!
healthierkitchen December 16, 2010
Do you peel the persimmons or just grate them with the skin?
vvvanessa December 16, 2010
you can leave the skin on. i hope you like it! i find it gets better over a day or two.
healthierkitchen December 16, 2010
looking forward to trying it. I have many persimmons.
theyearinfood November 11, 2010
This seems like such a great marriage of flavors!
vvvanessa November 11, 2010
i've never been much into persimmons, but i really like them in this cake with all the baking spices.
Midge November 10, 2010
beautiful cake.
vvvanessa November 11, 2010
thank you!
tiptoesinthekitchen November 10, 2010
this looks and sounds wonderful!
vvvanessa November 11, 2010
thank you!
Sagegreen November 10, 2010
Very gorgeous, indeed!
vvvanessa November 11, 2010
aw, shucks!
onetribegourmet November 10, 2010
gorgeous cake!
vvvanessa November 11, 2010
thank you, onetribegourmet!