With fall upon us, there’s a whole new world of vegetables and produce to work with. We’ve partnered with Food52 to bring you recipes, ideas, and tips inspired by the new season’s harvest.
Persimmons tug at my heartstrings, not only because they are the basis of my favorite kind of birthday cake, but also because their blazing, sunset-orange color and deeply colored pulp is a much-welcome harbinger of fall in the Midwest, as the Northern Hemisphere marches toward bare branches and sweater weather.
Food52 user and fellow Hoosier Thirschfeld explains in his headnote for persimmon pudding that the American persimmon tree has a long history in the state of Indiana, and the Midwest in general—Native Americans cultivated it for its fruit and the tree's beautiful wood.
And while Thirschfeld mentions he'd only use American persimmons in pudding—you'll generally find these persimmons in pulp form rather than fresh—there are a few other styles you'll often see in stores, specifically the more widely available Asian varieties Hachiya and Fuyu. They look quite different from one another, with the Hachiyas sporting their signature heart shape versus the round Fuyus that, when cut in half, reveal a middle that recalls a sand dollar. You'll often encounter these at the market in the fall, and many recipes will specify which variety to use; Fuyus are usually tapped as the ones to use in baking.
That's what is called for in these persimmon scones I adapted from Sara Forte at Sprouted Kitchen. Even though they're made with fresh persimmons, I wanted to have them mirror the flavors of a more traditional persimmon pudding, so I dialed up the cinnamon and added other spices and vanilla. They make my little heart sing: They're fall incarnate, packed with ricotta, sweet, juicy bits of Fuyu persimmon, and warming spices. Really, they’re autumn's answer to summer berry scones.
And, thanks to the mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flours, they don't turn out like hockey pucks. I'd smear them with an additional helping of ricotta, just for good measure.
The best thing is that is that you can adapt them for seasonality, since the base is so versatile. "I feel like scones can take on the trickier fruits, like cranberries or persimmons, which are otherwise tough to throw into, say, a salad or breakfast loaf, or to eat on their own," Sara explains. A tender scone is the perfect vehicle for persimmons, giving something that can easily seem a little plain (scones) a bit of a curveball.
She adds that while the whole wheat flour keeps the scone from being super light and fluffy, the ricotta steps in to alleviate some of that whole grain heft. And persimmon's sweet flesh, when ripe, is a great compliment to spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, which make a scone all the more cozy—plus it's exciting to have any seasonal fruit to work with post-summer, before the winter doldrums set in.