The Fiery-red Persimmon Cake

When autumn approaches, a traditional fine dessert named Persimmon Cake (also called Shi Zi Bing in Chinese) will appear at roadside restaurants and stalls in Xi’an, especially in Muslim Quarter. The cake looks golden yellow on both sides, soft and round in shape. Taking a bite, you will be amazed by its unique aroma which is as sweet and fragrant as osmanthus flowers. If taking Xi’an food tours during this period, you should not miss the chance to sample this popular dessert.

Fiery-red Persimmon Cake

Xi’an Persimmon Cake is Closely Related to An Uprising Leader

According to a legend spreading out in the center area of Shaanxi Province, Li Zicheng, a leader of peasant uprisings, built up a new regime in Xi’an and then continued his march to Beijing, the capital of the feudal dynasty of Ming (1368-1644). Because of the poor harvest, local people had to prepare other kinds of food to be the rations for Li’s troops. It was autumn then, so they picked ripe persimmons and mix them with flour to make persimmon cakes.

This kind of cake not only was sweet and delicious, but also kept soldiers feeling full for longer. Energetic and militant, Li’s army overthrew the feudal system and established their own revolutionary regime of peasants in the city of Beijing.

Since then, local people have kept it a tradition to make persimmon cakes every autumn when the trees are dripping with fiery-red fruits in memory of the legendary leader.

How to Make Xi’an Persimmon Cake – Recipe

Persimmons produced at Lintong District in Xi’an are the main ingredients to make Persimmon Cakes. The way to bake the cakes is as follows:

  1. Get away with the calyxes and receptacles of persimmons. Knead the persimmons together with wheat flour into sticky pastes and knead further again into dough;
  2. Fetch some dough, roll them into round pieces and wrap in the persimmon fillings. Roll the paste between your palms to form smooth balls and then flatten them out with your hand;
  3. Lay the cakes in the pan with rapeseeds oil for baking. When the bottom side turns out reddish, turn over for a 5-minute further baking. And the Persimmon Cakes will be ready when both sides turn out equally shiny-red.