"Oh, no, you di'nt!" (Nanny might have said)
Oh, yes, I did. I took my great-grandmother's hot water gingerbread recipe and gave it a makeover. Not that it needed one--that gingerbread holds up quite well, both objectively (it really is good) and subjectively (it evokes. Oh, it evokes).
But I had persimmons, see. Not the soft, jammy kind that would have given me pulp for persimmon bars or cookies (which would have evoked Aunt Marketa, not Nanny), but the sturdy ones. And while I like paper-thin slices of persimmon in a fall salad as much as the next girl, that's not what was calling. It's been stormy and cold and wet and dark here. And I've been huddled under the stairs (where my desk resides--not horror movie-ish) at the computer, pushing to get a revised manuscript turned around.
Gingerbread. This is the best costume, er, baked good for the day (with apologies to Little Edie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xG5baCxTtgw).
So I played a bit. Tinkered with the original recipe (used a combination of whole-wheat pastry flour and cornmeal instead of all-purpose flour; butter instead of oleo; cane instead of sorghum molasses; added fresh ginger), and then recklessly and unapologetically threw in two diced Fuyu persimmons. One confession: I should have placed a disc of greased parchment in the bottom of the cake pan, since I had added fresh fruit to the batter. It wouldn't, um, release itself completely (notice the transfer of blame to the cake, with the clever use of a reflexive verb). In spite of that cosmetic flaw, it's a tasty treat. I will definitely add it to my fall repertoire.
Hot Water Gingerbread with Persimmon
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 c. molasses (sorghum, if you can get it; otherwise, cane)
2 c. whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. fresh nutmeg
2 t. baking soda
1 c. boiling water
2 t. grated fresh ginger
2 eggs, well-beaten
2 Fuyu persimmons (ripe, but still firm), peeled and diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Stir together flour, meal, and spices. Dissolve soda in boiling water. Add molasses to sugar mixture, then add soda water. Mix again. Stir in flour. Beat in ginger and eggs quickly (so they don't scramble), then stir in persimmon. The batter is relatively runny, so don't panic and toss extra flour in. Bake in a round cake or 8x8 inch square pan, greased and lined with buttered parchment, roughly 45 minutes or until the center is set and a toothpick tests clean.
Let cool 20 minutes in the pan and then remove. Serve plain (alone at desk, with tea, while writing) or with sweetened whipped cream (with friends at a table, with tea, while talking).
Stay warm. Think of great-grandmothers.
[Above: the top view. Below: the bottom aka true confession view.]