persimmon pain perdu

21 Jan

persimmon halves

There is a persimmon tree in the parc du Buttes-Chaumont. I never noticed it before, never saw the bright orange globes so high up. Until one day they were on the pavement, split and squashed, over-ripe. It looked as if someone had had a food fight.

Normally I can’t stand persimmons when they are too ripe, when they darken and turn to pulp inside. I like to slice them so you can see the star template, so the texture is that of a crisp pear. But then I like my bananas almost green as well.

French toast didn’t used to appeal to me either. Maybe I am just too attached to banana pancakes. Maybe it is the memories of scout camp: huddled under green tents in the drizzle, we fried up white sliced bread to serve with ketchup. Perhaps it is all in the name, in England, “eggy bread”. The actual French call it “pain perdu” or lost bread, with the idea that it has been found and rescued. (The image of persimmons too can change depending on the name you assign: sharon fruit or kaki.)

Then a friend made me her French toast, taking her time, methodically waiting to really crisp and caramelise the edges of the custardy brioche. Then I was inspired to try the recipe in the Tartine book, since we had an abundance of sourdough bread, some of it already going stale. They have you toast the bread, soaked in eggs and milk, in a skillet on the stovetop to form a crust, adding more liquid as you go to saturate it totally, then stick it in the oven to bake through. It was indeed delicious, the underside as brown and crunchy as crème brûlée. But my favourite part of the recipe was the recommendation to squash a ripe persimmon on top. That was absolutely perfect, adding a juicy, delicate sweetness where maple syrup would almost have been overkill.

There are still plenty of kaki in the French markets, so take advantage. Buy a few, even if they are starting to darken and look bruised, to scoop out of their skins and serve on top of your breakfast whether it is pain perdu, pancakes or porridge.

No recipe today, due to lack of oven and a kitchen under renovation. Pick your favourite French toast recipe: after all it is just eggs, milk, a little sugar and bread – preferably stale. Cut doorstop slabs of the bread and soak the slices in your egg mixture in the fridge overnight, if you are lazy like me and do not want to wake up an hour early to do so. Add some lemon or lime zest for an extra kick. Fry with a generous amount of butter on a medium-low heat, take your time, and finish off in the oven while you make coffee, cook some bacon and cut up your persimmon.

8 Responses to “persimmon pain perdu”

  1. Diego January 21, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    Certainly worth trying. And maybe also try and import the special kind of kaki you find in Japan, smaller than ours, a little pointed at the top, they can be eaten like an apple, but they are sweet and tender but with a bite.

  2. Gerlinde January 21, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    Soft, ripe persimmons make a delicious custard like smoothie when mixed with a banana and some lemon juice and are great for baking cookies or bread.

    • Frances January 22, 2015 at 9:32 am #

      Ooooh – I never thought of making them into a smoothie. Thanks!

  3. Shaheen January 22, 2015 at 10:15 am #

    And there are elderflower trees there that everybody except me can spot!

    • Frances January 22, 2015 at 11:27 pm #

      Really? That makes two of us then! 🙂

  4. davidjhovsepian February 1, 2015 at 4:55 am #

    this is my first time looking at your blog. Do you do all of these drawings?

    • Frances February 2, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

      Hi! Welcome! Yes I do all the drawings – always trying to find new and different ways to make the recipes look appetising! 🙂

  5. cezmiberke11 February 8, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

    Reblogged this on cezmiberke11.

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