Exploration, Kitchen

Loquat Foraging

Loquats are sweet and tangy and abundant in our neighborhood right now. We find them curbside, hovering above sidewalks, along median strips, in front yards, and hidden in weedy, overgrown vacant lots. Although the largest and most bountiful trees always seem to be tucked away in some lucky homeowner's backyard. 

Loquats are delicious eaten fresh off a tree, tasting somewhat like guava and nectarine and sometimes mango and citrus. Pop them into your mouth whole and spit out the seeds. Or gather a basketful and store them in your fridge to use later in fruit salads or as a porridge topping or in cobblers and cakes. High in sugar, acid, and pectin, they can also be made into lovely jams and jellies. The leaves can even be turned into a medicinal tea!

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Most of the trees we found weren't quite ready yet, so we only gathered a small amount of fruit; just enough to be baked into a cake. Using this recipe as a guide, we made a loquat upside down cake with buttermilk and pecans. Light, fluffy, and not too sweet, it was the perfect end to a lazy Sunday afternoon.  

Loquat Upside Down Cake

For the topping:
2 cups cleaned loquat halves (or enough to cover the bottom of a 9" cast iron skillet)
1 cup pecan pieces
4 tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup coconut or palm sugar

For the cake:
1 cup sprouted khorasan flour
3/4 cup einkorn flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut or palm sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Notes: We used coconut sugar because it's a nice unrefined sugar and we have a lot of it. Use whatever sugar you have or prefer, from brown sugar to evaporated cane juice to turbinado. All purpose flour can be used in place of the others if necessary. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a 9" cast iron skillet and stir in the sugar. Let the mixture bubble for minute or two before adding the loquats and pecans and cooking for another couple of minutes. Turn off the heat.

Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the creamed mixture, stirring until just combined.

Pour the cake batter over the loquats and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool in the skillet before flipping it onto a plate.

Eat it warm or cold or serve with fresh loquats and sour cream!