Heavens to Betsy! This pudding ranks as one of my all-time favorite food experiences. The process of baking it lights up your kitchen with a show of vibrant colors. The finished cake is rich and alluring—almost melts on your tongue. Combining creamy vanilla with happy yellow eggs, butter, and gooey sweet, glowing orange persimmons creates a dance of color and flavor sure to enliven your winter!
Oh—and the recipe is easy!—I repeat: easy. Who knew such a rustic, simple dish could provide such delight!
If you take a walk around Sacramento this time of year, you’ll see leafless trees stretching into the sky with ornaments dangling. These aren’t decked in holiday décor—these trees are covered with bright orange persimmons.
There are two types of persimmons, Hachiya and Fuyu. The fuyu persimmon can be eaten like an apple when firm, but the Hachiya must first soften before it’s edible.
This pudding uses the Hachiya persimmon. The fruits are picked and sold when firm, so you must patiently wait for them to ripen—almost to the point that you think they’re rotten. The flesh will soften like a squishy tomato, while the outer skin will remain a protective, in-tact barrier until you’re ready to use them.
Once ripe, you simply peel back the fruit’s skin and scoop out the puree-like, sticky flesh with a spoon.
The batter for this undemanding, mouthwatering treat starts with bright orange persimmon pulp, becomes a peachy pale joy once the butter and milk have been added, and bakes into an ugly dark brown mass.
Don’t mourn the loss of this pudding’s brilliant color, for it has been trapped and preserved as glorious flavor. I dust mine with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, which makes it dainty for serving. This is a dish best eaten warm.
Persimmon Cornmeal Pudding Recipe
2 cups persimmon pulp
1 cup eggs, or 4 large eggs
½ (half) cup butter, or 1 stick, melted
¾ (three quarters) cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon spiced rum
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ (half) cup cornmeal
½ (half) cup organic sugar
1 ½ (one & a half) teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ (half) teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered sugar, for dusting the finished pudding
Farmers’ market ingredients: persimmons, eggs, butter, cornmeal (I picked up my cornmeal at an Illinois market)
California local ingredients: half-and-half
Supermarket ingredients: vanilla, rum, flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the persimmon pulp, eggs, melted butter, milk, vanilla, and rum with a whisk until blended.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the persimmon mixture and stir until well blended. Pour half of the batter into each greased cake pan.
Bake in 400 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center is slightly firm to the touch, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then sprinkle with a dusting of powdered sugar and serve warm.
Yield: Two nine-inch puddings; about 16 servings
Looking for more ways to use persimmons? Try these treats:
David Lebovitz adapts James Beard’s persimmon bread recipe.
Pinch My Salt whips up persimmon cookies.
Simply Recipes creates a persimmon pomegranate fruit salad.
Vanilla Garlic serves up an eggnog upside down fruit cake with persimmons. (I ate this one at a party recently, and can personally attest to how good it tastes!)