I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by loved ones and lots of delicious food. Did you get what you wanted? After we reach a certain age, Christmas presents must not have the same excitement? I don’t know though, I’m just guessing. I love getting presents and I’m old! It’s always exciting to me to open up the bag or unwrap the wrapping paper with baited breath, waiting to get the first glimpse of the goodies inside.
We were up bright and early Christmas morning to start off our day with our own ongoing tradition, the first showing of whatever the hit movie is that year. This year, Star Wars VIII. As you know we are huge fans so waiting a week to watch the movie was torture. However, I’ve done an opening night movie for Star Wars back when they had their 20th Anniversary. The weirdos that turn up for the opening night; I wasn’t about to put myself through that again. So, we waited, and it was totally worth the wait. LOVED the movie and cannot wait for the next one.
In the rush to get up and get to the movie theatre and due to some bad procrastination the day before, I forgot to pull out the chicken from the freezer for dinner. So, in true “A Christmas Story” fashion we ended up in the only open restaurant close by, a Chinese place. No, we didn’t have duck with the head still attached along with badly sung Christmas carols but we did have some bad Chinese food nevertheless. Apparently, many others forgot to take out their frozen turkeys/rib roast since it seemed like everyone in Broomfield was there. When we arrived there were a fair number of people but as we ordered and got our food, the stream of people coming through the door was never ending. The bad part; only one server. She was worked out of her little apron, but then family members started pitching in. We decided it was time to leave. I couldn’t fathom how many people, on Christmas, choose to not cook, won’t cook or can’t cook…or maybe they just like less than mediocre Chinese food on special holidays. These weren’t just couples and such, while we were waiting on our food, a family came in and asked for a table for 11! For 11?!! Why aren’t they cooking a family dinner at home??
After our not very good Chinese food, we went home and collapsed on the sofa. Steaming cups of hot cocoa kept us warm as the snow that was supposed to fall in the morning, finally arrived. We watched TV, drifted in and out of slumber, drank tea and cocoa and enjoyed a cosy evening at home. The snow kept falling; in fact, it fell all night and we woke up to about 4-5 inches. All the melted roads from the last snow storm were all snow packed and icy again. The weather has been so cold that nothing has melted and there is an ice rink right as you reach the bottom of our driveway. This morning it was 6F. Yeah, single digits.
Christmas Eve we were invited to dinner at a lovely friend’s house. It had been so long since I’d seen my friends, I was really looking forward to it. As I lay in bed that morning, my mind whirred away trying to come up with something to make with the ripe persimmons I had sitting on my kitchen counter. We had eaten a few fresh but persimmons can be very tannic and that can be off putting, especially to kids. I wanted to use the rest up in a dessert of some fashion.
Pudding, trifle, cake, muffins, cupcakes….all these ideas went through my mind. Since I had only 4 persimmons left, it had to be some sort of filling that was complemented with something else and something the children would eat. But wait, I was headed to a party that evening, I could bring a dessert. That opened up the idea of cake again. I don’t make too many cakes, they never get eaten at our house and I get stuck with them every time. But dinner parties are something else, food gets eaten at parties. I jumped out of bed and got to work.
Every year I put a traditional Buche de Noel on my bucket list, and every year it gets thrown out with the dirty water. This is not a traditional Buche de Noel, but it’s a Yule log of some sort. I love roll cakes, they can be a bit tricky but I love them anyway. They are pretty and easy to portion and cut, not to mention delicious! I have a couple of roll cakes on the website.
The persimmons are cooked down a little to concentrate flavours and remove the tannic quality. They are then mixed with some heavy cream, a drop of rose water is added and then filled inside a pistachio sponge cake. Allowing the cake to sit for a few hours before serving makes the sponge soft and saturated from the cream and it just melts in your mouth. The hint of rose water and the pistachio cake add an exotic flair to the beautiful persimmons.
Serves: 10 pieces
- Sheet Cake:
- ¾ cup all purpose/plain flour
- 3 tablespoons pistachios, ground fine
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 5 large eggs
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 cups persimmon chunks (about 4 whole, fresh ones)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon rose water, optional
- Ground pistachios for decoration
- Dried or fresh rose buds for decoration
- Persimmon Filling:
- Put the chunks of persimmons and ½ cup water into a small saucepan.
- Put on low heat and bring to a simmer.
- Let the persimmons soften and break down, mash down with a fork to help them along.
- Add the ¼ cup sugar and let simmer until all the liquid has evaporated.
- It will take about 20-25 minutes till the persimmons are cooked and the liquid has evaporated.
- Put into a small bowl and place in the fridge to cool.
- In the meantime, make the sheet cake.
- Once the cake is cooled and the persimmon filling has cooled, whip the heavy cream.
- In the bowl of a clean mixer bowl, add the 1 cup of cream, once the cream has thickened a little, add the tablespoon of sugar and continue whipping until thick.
- You want the cream quite stiff so it will hold the persimmon filling and stay firm in the cake as well.
- Fold in the persimmon filling and add the rose water if using.
- CAUTION: rose water is strong so start with ½ teaspoon. Too much will over power the cake to just rose water tasting.
- Sheet Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Grease and line with parchment paper a ½ size sheet pan (17.5 x 11.5 inches)
- Sift the flour, baking powder and ground pistachios together a few times.
- Keep aside until needed along with the sifter.
- In a saucepan or a microwaveable bowl, heat the milk and butter together till butter if melted and milk is hot.
- I zap it in the microwave for about 30 seconds at a time until the butter and milk are hot.
- Watch carefully as it can boil over.
- Keep aside until needed.
- In the bowl of a mixer, add the eggs and the sugar and which until pale, thick and frothy.
- This whisking is key to a sponge.
- The eggs have to be whipped sufficiently.
- Anything under whipped; the cake will not rise enough.
- The consistency of the whipped eggs and sugar have to be like softly whipped cream.
- Once the egg-sugar mixture is ready, sift the flour over the batter in 3 batches.
- Fold in carefully but completely.
- Bring the milk and butter up to a steam again (zap in microwave for 20 seconds)
- Pour the hot milk mixture all at once into the batter.
- Fold the batter thoroughly.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is light golden brown and the cake springs back when pressed gently.
- While the cake is in the oven, place a clean tea towel on the counter or table and dust liberally with powdered sugar.
- Once the cake comes out of the oven, run a knife around the edges of the cake and flip the cake carefully onto the sugared tea towel.
- Allow the cake to cool slightly before removing the paper liner.
- Once you remove the paper liner, place a large piece of foil over the top.
- Use a sheet tray as a support and place over the foil.
- Place a hand under the towel and cake, flip the cake over carefully, so the top the cake is now facing you to be filled.
- It's easier to fill the cake and roll if the cake isn't on the sheet tray so carefully remove the cake from the sheet tray on the foil and lay on table.
- Remove the tea towel from the top.
- Fill with 1½ cups of the filling.
- Spread the filling evenly over the top, not too thickly though.
- Carefully lift up one the short edges of the cake and start rolling tightly.
- Use the foil as leverage and a way to help roll and keep the roll compact and tight.
- Use one hand to hold the foil and the other to keep the cake tight as it rolls.
- It will crack a little at the beginning but the cracking will reduce as the roll gets bigger.
- Just keep the roll tight and compact at the beginning even if it crack.
- Shape with your hands as you are rolling.
- Once the cake is rolled, keep it covered and rolled in the foil.
- Refrigerate for an hour in the foil before serving.
- Remove the foil, use the remainder of the filling to cover the top of the cake lightly.
- Dust with ground pistachios and dried roses if desired.
So, what was the best thing you ate over the Christmas holiday? Let me tell you, for us, it wasn’t the Chinese food! This cake was pretty good though, as was the dinner at my friend’s and my White Chicken Chilli that we had on Boxing Day.
I cannot believe 2015 whizzed by in a blur. I am quite certain I was writing this very sentence not too long ago! Be that as it may, the fact is 2016 will be here very soon. I want to wish you all a very happy, safe and prosperous New Year. I thank you for your friendship, your encouragement and your support. Here’s to many, more years together!
Happy New Year!