Persimmon Cakes with Osmanthus Flowers
PERSIMMON CAKES WITH OSMANTHUS FLOWERS MAKES 20 CAKES
My mother has a persimmon tree in her Bay Area backyard that takes all year to bear fruit—but then the fruit ripens so quickly that we’re always left with far more persimmons than we can consume before they spoil. This fruit comes in two basic types: the Fuyu, which is hard and can be eaten like an apple, and the Hachiya, the honey-sweet varietal that must be eaten only when the fruit is so ripe, it’s about to burst from the skin. Thanks to my mother’s bounty, I learned how to pan-fry persimmon cakes, a popular street food delicacy in China.
3 ripe Hachiya persimmons, peeled
4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons black sesame seeds
6 tablespoons walnuts
1 tablespoon dried osmanthus flowers
¼ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Mash the persimmons in a bowl. Mix in the flour bit by bit, and then knead until the consistency resembles bread dough: tacky but not sticky. (If the persimmons are small, you may need to add 1 to 2 teaspoons of water.) Cover the dough and let it rest for a couple of hours.
Toast the sesame seeds and walnuts in a dry skillet over medium- high heat. Let them cool, then grind them in a food processor. Add the osmanthus flowers, sugar, and melted butter, and pulse until well blended. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about a 1-inch thickness, and use a biscuit cutter to cut out 3-inch- wide coins. Flatten the coins and put 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of each one. Pinch the sides up and over the filling, patting to shape it at.
Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. In batches, fry the cakes, turning them over once, until they are golden brown on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes total. Remove from the skillet, sprinkle with a little sugar on top. Serve hot, or store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
Note: To bring out the honey of the fruit, I’ve added osmanthus flowers, which can be found in the dried tea and herb sections of most Asian groceries. This fragrant flower is a sweet symbol of love and romance, and is often served at Chinese wedding banquets, either mixed and brewed with green tea, sprinkled onto sweet dessert soups (like tong yuan), or as an addition to cakes like these, which I like to have with afternoon tea.