We've been blessed with an astonishing abundance of persimmons this winter, so in order to use them up rather than letting them go to waste, we've been making pans and pans of persimmon pudding, a traditional -- in fact, a very old fashioned -- holiday dish.
Now, persimmons are not necessarily your typical foodstuff, and many Americans have no idea what to do with them. There are two common varieties of persimmon, hachiya and fuyu. We have had mostly hachiya persimmons -- and they are by far the most commonly encountered. They must be treated with a good deal of tender respect, because they are quite inedible before they are ripe. And it can take quite a while for them to ripen. The last ones we used for persimmon pudding were off the tree for two weeks ripening. You know they are ripe when they are uniformly soft.
Ripe hachiya persimmon
They are often wrapped in paper to ripen, or alternatively, their stem ends are joined together with string and they are hung over a kind of rack to air and ripen for as long as it takes. When they're done, you'll know. They will be very soft, sometimes the skin will be easily punctured, and their flesh will be a dark brilliant orange, somewhat fibrous looking, and very sweet/tart. In fact, their flavor is not unlike a very intense version of Sweetart candies.
Once they are ripe, they are perfect for persimmon pudding (you can use them in the dish before they are completely ripe, if you're of the impatient persuasion, but the pudding won't have quite the flavor or richness you get from fully ripened persimmons.)
Let's get to the recipe. This is a very old one, how old I don't know, and very basic. Anyone can do it.
Preheat oven: 375°
Take two ripe persimmons and skin them. Skins should just slip off; if not, just start with a knife. Scrape any flesh left on the skins into a small bowl. Mash the persimmons in the bowl, removing any seeds (there are sometimes one or two long skinny seeds) and any hard fibrous material. (Alternatively, pulp them in a food processor.)
In another larger bowl combine:
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups milk
Persimmon pulp (you will probably have about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups from two ripe persimmons, or somewhat more or somewhat less. The amount isn't crucial, but don't use more than two persimmons per recipe.)
Mix thoroughly by hand or with a mixer.
The pudding will be quite moist.
Pour mixture into ungreased pan (9" round or square. Don't fill quite to rim. If you have some left over, pour into smaller ramekin or pan.)
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until golden brown and firm.
The result will puff up and look something like a layer cake. Once removed from the oven, though, it will sink back down. It will be very moist -- "pudding" remember? -- but not liquid.
Let cool for fifteen minutes to half an hour. Serve warm with whipped cream.
Serve any left over -- ha! -- pudding warm (nuke for 30 seconds or so).
Some people say persimmon pudding is an acquired taste, but we love it. It is warm and satisfying and just plain good at this time of the year.
There are many variations, but this is the simplest version, and the one we have had a lot of this winter.
Hope you enjoy!