persimmon bread with pistachios & cranberries

persimmon bread | The Secret Life of Bee

I went to Franschhoek with some friends this weekend and the road was lined with fruit sellers holding big bags of bright orange persimmons. Of course we pulled over onto the side of the road and bargained our way to two bags of the ripest most beautiful sunset coloured persimmons we could find. These persimmons look like fat squat orange tomatoes. This is the Fuyu persimmon. It is sweet when hard and increases in sweetness the riper it gets. You can eat it as is or use it in salads, sorbets or bake with it etc. The other type of persimmon is the Hachiya persimmon which looks more like an elongated Roma tomato and must be extremely ripe when eaten or else it’s terribly sour and astringent.

persimmon bread | The Secret Life of Bee

This persimmon bread will make your kitchen smell amazing. It’s jam packed with so many layers of flavour. The sweet persimmons pair beautifully with the cinnamon and vanilla. The splash of Whiskey adds a lovely smokey dimension and the dried fruit and pistachios add some great texture. I came across this recipe from David Lebovitz which he adapted from Beard on Bread by James Beard. I’ve tweaked it to my liking with the cinnamon and vanilla and removed the nutmeg. I’ve also played with the nuts and fruit I added and so can you. You can adapt this recipe to your liking as it is very forgiving much like a banana bread or pumpkin loaf. Make sure your persimmons are nice and ripe. Not on the verge of bursting like a Hachiya persimmon should be but like an over-ripe tomato- slightly soft and squishy to the touch.

persimmon bread | The Secret Life of Bee

I have also used two types of flour in this loaf. Half all-purpose and half wholegrain. This BIO-WHEAT wholegrain flour is amazing. My mom bought it for me to hint for a batch of rusks and i’ve totally fallen in love with a bag of flour. This stone ground flour is produced in the Overberg and the farm is GMO free and organic. It’s flavourful, textured and healthy. Ok- enough about flour. Get baking!

Persimmon bread with pistachios & cranberries

makes 1 large loaf

Ingredients:

  • 200g all-purpose flour
  • 200g wholegrain flour
  • 200g sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder or vanilla paste
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 280g persimmon pulp (one very full cup)
  • 115g butter, melted
  • 70g raisins
  • 70g dried cranberries
  • 70g pistachios
  • 30ml whiskey

Method:

Preheat oven to 180˚C and line a large loaf tin with baking paper and brush with butter.

Cut the persimmons in half around their middle. Use a spoon to scoop out all of the flesh and mush with a fork.

Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to mix. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.

Add the eggs, melted butter and persimmon pulp and mix.

Finally add the raisins, cranberries, pistachios and whiskey.

Pour into prepared tin and bake in the oven for +- 40 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack before turning out and put the kettle on because a slice of this is destined to be enjoyed with a hot cup of tea.

persimmon bread | The Secret Life of Bee

persimmon bread | The Secret Life of Bee

 

 

 

 

fig jam with honey & vanilla

fig jam with honey & vanilla | The Secret Life of Bee

This fig jam is the most scrumptious jam I have ever made. The intense fig flavour is enhanced by subtle hints of honey and vanilla. It is a stunning jam destined for a beautiful piece of buttered toast. I also adore the texture of fig jam. I love the little seeds that gently pop in your mouth and the smooth and chunky aspect of the bits and bobs of fig. I cut the figs into quarters for this jam so I still end up with some big squishy pieces of fig at the end.

fig jam with honey & vanilla | The Secret Life of Bee

This jam is also a winner to cook other things with. Beautiful jammy tartlets, a filling for homemade crepes, a topping on a cheesecake or to stuff French toast with! As you have probably gathered figs are one of my favourite foodie indulgences. And when they’re in season and don’t break the bank I tend to go a bit wild. So I might have enough fig jam to feed a small army in my fridge. (That small army tends to be made up of soldiers that live in my husbands belly and march into the kitchen around midnight.)

fig jam with honey & vanilla | The Secret Life of Bee

Fig jam with vanilla & honey

Ingredients:

  • 1kg figs
  • 300g sugar
  • 100g unprocessed honey
  • 1 lemon, zested & juiced
  • 1 vanilla pod, scraped or 1 tsp ground vanilla powder

Method:

Wash the figs and trim their tops off. Cut into quarters and place in a large bowl.

Add the sugar, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla to the bowl. If using a vanilla pod add the scraped seeds as well as the pod to the bowl. Stir everything well and leave to sit for one hour.

Scrape the ingredients into a pot and bring everything to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes.

Pour jam into jars and pop in the fridge. The jam will keep for a few weeks if not canned properly. If you’d like to preserve the jam properly follow these easy steps.

fig jam with honey & vanilla | The Secret Life of Bee

fig jam with honey & vanilla | The Secret Life of Bee

dulce de leche panna cotta

dulce de leche panna cotta | The Secret Life of Bee

I was spoiled with a giant tub of the finest dulce de leche in Argentina last year. I brought it back and have been umming and ahhing about what to make with this deliciousness. I had my sexy Spanish speaking friends over for dinner one night and it seemed fitting I break out the dulce de leche. Panna cotta is one of our favourite dinner party desserts and so a combination of the two was born. And what a combo!

dulce de leche panna cotta | The Secret Life of Bee

The dulce de leche has a rich sweetness and gives an incredible layer of caramel flavour. The smell of it melting into the warm cream is enough to make you want to drink it straight out of the pot. I had several ladles teaspoons just to make sure i’d added enough. You can pair it with a different topping depending on what fruit is in season. A tart raspberry coulis and a crunchy crumble would also work beautifully. You can even buy some almond biscotti and break it up over the panna cottas before serving for some texture.

dulce de leche panna cotta | The Secret Life of Bee

Dulce de leche panna cotta

serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 750ml cream
  • 250g dulce de leche
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 4 sheets gelatine 
  • pomegranate rubies

Method:

Place cream and vanilla in a small pot and heat. Once warm add the dulce de leche and stir until combined and the cream is hot.

Soak the gelatine leaves in very cold or ice water. Squeeze out the residual water when they are soft and add the leaves to the pot off the heat.

Whisk the gelatine into the cream mixture until completely dissolved. 

Strain the cream mixture though a fine sieve for a perfectly silky texture. 

Pour into little ramekins or glasses and place in the fridge to set. (at least 4 hours) 

Top with pomegranate rubies just before serving. Granadillas and raspberries also work beautifully with this panna cotta. 

dulce de leche panna cotta | The Secret Life of Bee

dulce de leche panna cotta | The Secret Life of Bee