Persimmon Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel

Persimmon Cake

2 persimmons, caps removed

1/2 cup whole or skim milk

3 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown Butter Icing

6 ounces unsalted brown butter, chilled until soft but not hard

8 ounces unsalted butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salted Creme Fraiche Caramel

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream, at room temperature

1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/3 Cup Brown Sugar, packed

1/4 Cup Butter, at room temperature

2 Tablespoons Water

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

For the persimmon cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Puree the persimmons and milk together in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and ginger until combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar at medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the persimmon mixture and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Add the flour mixture, and mix until just combined.

Evenly distribute the batter between two well-greased and lightly floured 8-inch cake pans. Place the pans in the oven and bake until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cake is baking, make the caramel. In a small thick-bottomed saucepan mix together the water and the granulated sugar until well blended. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat and continue boiling until the mixture turns a light caramel color, only stirring once every four minutes. This took me about eight minutes, but the speed will depend upon the heat of your stovetop. 

Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the heavy cream, butter, and brown sugar until incorporated. Be careful as the mixture will spit and hiss a bit. If the sugar begins to clump up when you're stirring do not fret, just stir as best as you can for about 30 seconds and then put the pot back on the heat and bring it back to a boil again over medium-low heat. Once it is boiling again stir until the sugar chunk dissolves and the mixture is smooth. Once it smoothes out, stir it every two minutes and allow the mixture to simmer for 3 minutes to thicken slightly. Remove from the stovetop and stir in the salt. Allow to cool to room temperature.

For the brown butter icing, beat the brown and regular butter at medium high speed with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, switch to whisk attachment, and then continue beating the mixture at medium high speed for an additional 3 minutes, or until the butter becomes very pale and fluffy and has roughly doubled from its original volume. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat at medium high speed until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Cover and set aside.

To assemble the cake, cut the two layers in half horizontally with a sharp bread knife so that you now have 4 thin cake layers. Lightly spread the brown butter buttercream between each layer and up the sides, then on top of the finished cake. Pour the caramel sauce over the cake, making sure to place a dish under the cake to catch any extra caramel sauce that spills over the sides. Serve immediately.