Spiced persimmon upside-down cake

Spiced persimmon upside-down cake
 It's funny: I've always though of persimmons (also known as 'sharon fruit') as somehow faintly exotic. It's not that persimmons are particularly uncommon - they're not, maybe it's just seeing their tangerine hued skin and heart shaped-fruit in bleak February that seems to call of warmer climes.
So when I saw some persimmons in the shops (ashamedly not a local farmer's market) I thought I'd try some. Although I have had them before, I wasn't sure what they tasted like, although I remember them being quite sweet. So before I did any baking or photography, I sat down and ate one, cutting it into quarters and thoughtfully ate it. As it happened, it tasted somewhat like a spicy, honeyed apricot with sweet, delicate flesh with a slightly waxy skin.
Apparently, there are two main varieties of persimmon: the Fuyu and Hachiya. Fuyu have the appearance of a slightly 'squashed' tomato and can be eaten whilst still slightly firm, like an apple; whereas the heart-shaped Hachiya must be ripened until soft and can be simply halved and eaten with a spoon. For the cake, I used the firmer Fuyu since it had to be sliced fairly thinly and I didn't want it to turn to mush.

The cake itself is a twist on the retro upside-down cake, with fresh persimmons in place of pineapple rings and those gaudy glacé cherries. The almond sponge is spiced with cloves, ginger and cinnamon and has a tender persimmon topping - serve warm with a generous scoop on ice cream.
Spiced persimmon upside-down cake

Persimmon upside-down cake
Makes 1, 8 inch cake

4 persimmons
150g room-temperature butter
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g yoghurt
75g ground almonds
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
120g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking soda

1. Grease and line an 8 inch cake tin. Slice the persimmons horizontally and arrange on the base of the tin.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time until well combined. Whisk in the yoghurt then fold in the almonds, flour, spices and baking soda.

3. Pour the batter into the cake tin and level with a spatula. Bake for 1 1/2 hours in an oven preheated to 180C. Turn out onto a serving plate and serve warm.

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