Christmas at my house is always at least six or seven times more pleasant than anywhere else. We start drinking early. And while everyone else is seeing only one Santa Claus, we’ll be seeing six or seven. ~ W. C. Fields
The holiday season is upon us and it is time for a little cheer (or lots of cheer, depending on your situation)! Sure, bourbon is good straight up or in cocktails, but why not put some of that booze in your bread, too? Then, we all may be seeing six or seven Santas during the holiday festivities. What would be wrong with that?!
I went back to the archives for this recipe and pulled out an older cookbook, Beard on Bread, to make this divine Persimmon Bread. It seemed fitting, this time of year, to combine fruit and nuts in a boozy bread. My twist on this James Beard classic was fabulous.
I mashed my persimmons, rather than purée them, so there were a few small pieces of the cooked fruit throughout the loaves of bread. We liked the additional texture and flavor of an occasional chunk of fruit along with the sweet dates and crunchy nuts. I used very ripe Hachiya persimmons as they are best for baking.
While the recipe calls for brandy or bourbon (and either one will do), we are currently on a bit of a bourbon roll, so I opted to go with a nicely balanced bourbon (Woodford Reserve is a good choice). The notes of vanilla, spice, and oak in the Woodford Reserve are a splendid combination with the fruit, nuts, and freshly grated nutmeg in the bread. The aroma of this bread baking was everything you imagine holiday baking to be: heady with spice, sugar, butter, and bourbon.
This quick bread reminds me of a very excellent fruitcake (filled with complex flavors, fruit, and nuts), so I decided to wrap one of the loaves in a bourbon soaked cheesecloth and store it as you would a fruitcake. It was truly fabulous with the addition a wee bit more bourbon that soaked into the bread. It elevated the already delightful taste and texture to another level and it became even more flavorful and moist. Mr. B says this is one of his favorite things that I have baked and I might have to agree.
This scrumptious bread is perfect for entertaining family and friends during the holiday season. Paired with a cup of tea and a smear of cream cheese, you have a delightful afternoon snack to perk you up during these hectic days. The recipe makes two loaves that will keep nicely for at least a week (or they freeze well), that is of course, if they last that long.
Persimmon Bread with Bourbon, Dates, and Walnuts
Yield: 2 9-inch loavec
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
The recipe calls for between 2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar. We don't like quick breads that are overly sweet, so I used 2 cups of sugar and it was the perfect blend of sweetness with the bourbon, fruit, and nuts. I also soaked a cheesecloth in bourbon and wrapped the bread in it, securing it in plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil. We loved the additional bourbon flavor and it keep the bread exceptionally moist for days. It was excellent.
3 1/2 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground mace (I substituted freshly grated nutmeg)
2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar (I used 2 cups)
1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2/3 cup brandy or bourbon (I used bourbon)
2 cups persimmon purée (from 4-5 very ripe Hachiya persimmons)
2 cups walnuts, chopped
2 cups raisins (I used chopped dates)
1. Butter 2 9-inch loaf pans. Line the bottoms with a piece of parchment paper or dust with flour and tap out any excess.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
4. Make a well in the center then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon purée, and then the nuts and raisins or dates.
5. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Storage: Will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped (particularly in a bourbon soaked cheesecloth), at room temperature. The bread will freeze well, too.
Adapted from Beard on Bread