桃栗三年柿八年 (momo kuri sannen kaki hachinen): it takes time to reap the fruit of one’s actions
(lit. [It takes] three years for [planted] peach and chestnut trees, eight for persimmons [to bear fruit]) (ことわざ学習室）
In late autumn and early winter (mid-Nov. to New Year), Omicho Market is awash in reds and oranges: strawberries, crabs, mikan, and persimmons. Before I moved to Japan, I had never seen a persimmon, though they seem to be available in California. There are two main varieties available in Japan: non-astringent (amagaki, 甘柿) and astringent (shibugaki, 渋柿). Fuyu (富有）, the tomato-shaped variety, are a variety of sweet persimmon; they are dull orange, firm, and ready to eat when they are sold. The human-heart-shaped Hachiya (蜂屋), on the other hand, is very astringent until the skin turns reddish and the insides turn to jelly.*
Seedless persimmon, possibly 紀ノ川柿 variety (Kinokawa)
I tend to eat Fuyu persimmons plain, but I was inspired by The Food Librarian‘s “Fuyu Persimmon Bundt” to try something new. I used a sweet seedless variety (hiratanenashi, 平種無) with a cinnamon-colored flesh in one batch and a seeded variety with orange flesh in another. Both work equally well, though the color of the cake will vary based on the fruit. (Remove the seeds, of course, if applicable.) My coworkers compared this cake to a Western-style Christmas cake, combining sweet fresh and dried fruits with nuts and spices. I think I know what I’m making instead of Stollen for Christmas this year!
My alterations: The night before I made the first round of this cake, I was out of butter, so I swapped in yogurt 1:1 by volume. Also, I think the natural sweetness of the persimmons more than makes up for the comparative lack of sugar in my version. This is also a half-size recipe to accommodate for the size of Japanese oven-ranges. For parties, I sometimes make a double batch in two cake pans and layer them, but that means that I have to cook them one at a time in the moven.