If I ask my dad about a plant or flower that I’ve seen in the Santa Monica mountains, he’s either very proud to tell me that it’s a native or almost annoyed to tell me it’s not. I think it’s funny. It’s almost like he’s defending the mountains . . . “You know, that’s not from here, it shouldn’t be here,” he’ll say, as if the mountains don’t enjoy these foreign visitors.
He was very excited when I asked about Toyon (sometimes called Christmas Holly). He proudly told me it grows all over the Santa Monica mountains and it’s native! Of course, he threw in a little botanical trivia — this is the plant (shrub, rather) from which the name “Hollywood” comes. Cool!
I thought it was the obvious choice for today’s Friday Flowers! And it looks so pretty with this delicious Spiced Almond-Apple Persimmon Bread! (But please, don’t eat the shrub!)
What a delightful Christmas breakfast treat! Pour your favorite cup of coffee and warm the bread up. And open a few presents from Santa while you’re at it!
For the topping:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
2 tablespoons golden brown sugar
1/4 cup grated, peeled apple
2 tablespoons very ripe Fuyu or Hachiya persimmon pulp
For the bread:
1/2 cup finely chopped, peeled apple (I like using Fuji apples)
1/2 cup finely chopped, peeled Fuyu persimmon
Fresh pulp of 1 very ripe Fuyu or Hachiya persimmon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two small (approximately 5 3/4 x 3-inch) bread pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
To make the topping: in a small mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, almonds, sugar, grated apple, and persimmons. Set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the apple, chopped persimmon and persimmon pulp, with all of the spices, sugar and salt.
Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl and then mix them into the fruit mixture.
Mix in the flour, baking soda, and baking powder — stir only until they’re evenly incorporated. Then fold in the melted butter.
Pour the batter in the prepared bread pans and evenly divide the topping among both loaves. The topping should be about 1/4-inch thick on top of the batter.
Bake in the preheated oven until the bread is golden brown on top and no longer jiggles if you gently shake the pan, about 25 minutes.
Let the bread cool at least to room temperature before slicing.
1-1/2 hours ahead: Make the batter and topping.
At least 1 hour ahead: Bake the bread.
You can make this bread up to 4 days ahead of time if you wrap it tightly and keep it stored in the refrigerator. Heat it in the oven before serving. You can also store it, wrapped tightly in the freezer, for up to 2 weeks. Again, warm it in the oven before serving.