Thursday, October 11, 2007

Persimmon Pudding, Fig Ice Cream, Goat Cheese Icing, and Bread!

I finished grad school. Finally. And got back on the baking horse. I have a lot of you guys' postcards to catch up with (Marcee, I have to post yours but I keep forgetting). In the meantime, here are some pictures and recipes of nice fall things I've been working on!

Persimmon Pudding
My friend is from rural North Carolina, and last time I was down visiting her parents with her, her mom talked to me about the persimmon puddings they make locally when all of the persimmons are in season. PERSIMMONS? What is this, Thomas Jefferson's kitchen? Persimmons actually exist? Turns out they exist in abundance all over these folks' yards every fall. So as promised, this fall she sent me some "persimmon juice" (which is actually more like a puree) so I could make persimmon pudding. My friend sampled some and promptly took half of it home with her. I gave her some nostalgia, what can I say.

If you have access to persimmons, apparently you wait until they are very ripe, stick them through a food mill, and freeze them until you need to make more pudding. The pudding's end result is hard to describe. It's definitely akin to a steamed pudding in consistency, but it's hard to shake the comparison to a very firm pumpkin pie, sans crust. Persimmons themselves have a neat sort of spicy, sort of coppery, sort of appley taste. I need to find someone to give the leftovers to, quick, before I gain three thousand pounds.

Ingredients (makes a major amount, halving it would be plenty if you're not cooking for a crowd):
1/4 c. butter, melted
3 cups persimmon "juice"
2 cups sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
dash of salt
2 t. baking bowder
2 eggs
3 cups flour, whisked to eliminate lumps
3 cups milk

Preheat oven to 375.

Brush enough butter into a 9x12 pyrex baking dish and an 8x8 pyrex baking dish to cover the bottoms and the sides (or you can use any equivalent combination of glass dishes - pie plates, whatever). Set the leftover butter aside.

In a very large bowl (like a bowl from a stand mixer), combine persimmon juice, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and eggs. Mix with a wooden spoon or whisk, not with a standing mixer.

Alternate adding flour and milk and stir well until smooth.

Dump into pans.

Bake at 374 for 15-20 minutes. Then reduce heat to 325 for 40 minutes. Then turn off oven for about ten minutes before removing pans. Let cool almost to room temperature before serving. This was my mistake (as you can see in the picture) because my nicely whipped cream melted immediately, but oh well. Also the persimmon flavor comes out more strongly when it's cooled down.

Cut into squares and store the rest in the fridge and eat cold whenever you want.

I just topped with some lightly sweetened whipped cream and a sprinkling of mace.

Ice Creams Galore

Fig Ice Cream

I found myself with an abundance of leftover dried figs, so I consulted the best ice cream book ever and discovered that of course I could use them to make fig ice cream. I did this again when my roommate and I both bought way too much ginger. Moral of this story: you can put anything in ice cream.

Anyway, if you feel like making ice cream, which is so easy and cheap, it's almost stupid not to make it all the time, you need that book. You need it!

Ginger Ice Cream

Goat Cheese Icing

I got this recipe from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook (which is actually less exciting than I want it to be). I made it with the accompanying Apple Spice Layer Cake. I wasn't super impressed with the cake, but the icing. Holy crap. GOAT CHEESE ICING? It was a hit. Perfect for my roommate and BFF's fall birthday party.

I wouldn't really recommend the cake, it's boring and kind of dry, but this would be really good on any sort of pumpkin or apple cupcake, or even as a spread on pumpkin bread or carrot cake. It's enough like cream cheese icing to be familiar and comforting, but different enough to be awesome.

Beat for 3 or 4 minutes until fluffy:
6 oz. whipped cream cheese at room temp
12 oz. goat cheese at room temp

Add 1/4 c. confectioner's sugar, and beat a few minutes more, until fluffy. The end! I think it could have stood to be a little less sweet even, but it's up to you.

You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate, just bring to room temp before serving and beat a few times.

And finally...Bread Bread Bread!

Honey Oatmeal Bread

I have some friends who hire me to bake for them on a weekly basis. The deal is this, I make them a loaf of bread and give them a half batch of whatever else I'm working on, and they get to have awesome homemade bread and baked goods, which as we all know are way better than anything you can get in the store. It works out well for everyone, I make a tiny bit of cash, get to work on some new projects (I have I think ten different kinds of flour in my fridge right now). Everyone's happy.

I've always had luck with bread, especially now that it's a little cooler and less humid, but I'm tired of the same old stuff. I bought Baking Illustrated, because I trust the Cook's Illustrated folks to the ends of the earth. They've really replaced Martha for me for the most part, and this book is as fascinating as it is foolproof.

Anyone else have any good bread recipes or made any good bread cookbook purchases that they'd like to share?

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