California Persimmon Torte

Time1 hour 10 minutes
YieldsServes 8 to 12
California Persimmon Torte
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
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Marian Burros’ plum torte is often the first recipe most bakers use, because it’s easy to make, looks great and has stood the test of time. This California spin on it swaps the Italian plums for ripe, fragrant persimmons, which peak in late autumn. Because persimmons can be less acidic than plums, I lower the amount of sugar here slightly from Burros’ original and add a little more lemon juice. Ground turmeric and ginger support the unique flavor of persimmons and add great color without overwhelming the fruit with their own distinct qualities. Avoid using persimmons that are overly ripe. They may be great for eating raw in this state, but in this recipe, they will dissolve into the batter.


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake or springform pan with butter and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and turmeric. In a large bowl, combine the butter and 2/3 cup sugar and beat on medium-low speed of a mixer until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate each fully before adding the next, then beat in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until the batter just comes together.


Spread the batter in an even layer in the prepared pan. In a medium bowl, toss the persimmon wedges with the lemon juice until completely coated. Starting from the outside, arrange the persimmon wedges skin side up in a circle at the edge of the batter then work your way toward the center (you may have one or two wedges left over). If there is any lemon juice left in the bowl, pour it over the fruit. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar evenly over the top of the batter and fruit.


Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake (trying to avoid touching the fruit) comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely before unmolding.