Lizzie’s Persimmon Pudding
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Every fall, I wait with baited breath for the arrival of the gorgeous, bright orange persimmons at the farmers market. Persimmons are my absolute favorite fruit. I love them crisp and sweet, like the slightly squat Fuyu. I love them meltingly soft and luscious, like the acorn-shaped Hachiya we’ll use in this recipe. I even love them practically mummified, like the preserved Hoshigaki. I love them so much my childhood nickname was Persimmon. (No, you’re not allowed to call me that, not unless you’ve known me since I was five.)
A few years ago, my dear friend Liz Haskell sent me a surprised package just before Christmas. I opened it to find a not-so-pretty steamed pudding. You know, one of those dark, dark brown, sodden-looking things. Not exactly appetizing stuff, but I knew she was a great cook so I tried it. One bite into the dense yet super tender pudding and I was in love! It tasted like a sticky toffee pudding took a Hachiya persimmon on a honeymoon and made sweet, sweet love to it. Yes, that good.
Of course I asked her for a recipe, and got it a few days later when a xeroxed copy of it arrived in the mail. Lizzie is a avid clipper of old recipes. She doesn’t just pick random ones, mind you. She’s an exigent collector. Over the decades, what she’s chosen to keep she uses, over and over. Needless to say I am now in possession of quite a few xeroxed copies from Liz’s recipe file. Today I’m sharing one of them with you, a slightly adapted version of her Steamed Persimmon Pudding. I think this recipe was originally attributed to Mrs.Reagan, yes that Mrs.Reagan, but for me it’s for ever and always Lizzie’s Persimmon Pudding.
This is a steamed pudding, so, naturally you’ll need a steamed pudding mold with a lid. You can buy them new, like this one, and this one on Amazon. I use a vintage version of this “Cathedral-style” one, it’s about 6 cups or 1.5 litre in capacity. If you’re looking for real vintage, eBay always have a few around. Or just be on the look out for one next time you visit a vintage shop. If you don’t want to buy one, you can make do with a bundt-style pan. It’ll be a little clunky but it’ll do just fine. You just need to improvise a lid from a couple layers of aluminum foil. You’ll also need a large pot, one big enough to hold the mold you’re planning to use, and one with a lid so you could cover the whole thing to steam. It’s a steamed pudding, remember? Lastly, I also recommend a stick blender, it’s the easiest way to get everything together in this recipe. I have one of these, and I love, love, love it. You can use a regular stand blender if you have one, or a food processor, or even a regular old whisk will do.
Lizzie’s Persimmon Pudding
- 2 fl.oz | 60g brandy
- 1 cup | 100g raisins
- 1 stick | 115g butter
- 1 cup | 300g Hachiya persimmon pulp (~ 3 persimmons)
- 3/4 cup | 150g granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons hot water
- 1 cup | 120g All-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup | 65g walnut halves
Fill a large pot about 1/4 way up with water. (You’ll want to make sure that when you put the pudding mold in the water doesn’t come up higher that 2/3 the side of the mold.) Place a small wire steaming rack at the bottom of the pot. If you don’t have it, two saucers stacked on top of each other will do the job. The whole idea is to keep your pudding mold from touching the bottom of the pot directly. (You’ll want to use old saucers you’re not emotionally attached to for this, they might not emerge looking pristine the way they go in.) Place the pot over medium heat and bring the water to a boil.
Meanwhile, butter the inside of a steamed pudding mold, make sure you get to every nooks and corners in the mold or you might have a problem unmolding the pudding at the end. When it doubt, use more butter.
Put the raisins in a small bowl, pour brandy over it and let the raisins plump in the brandy for five minutes. Melt the butter, however you do it is fine, just have it melted and set aside. Me, I nuke that thing.
Cut each persimmon in half, remove the pale cores and scoop out the pulp into a large bowl. You’ll need a bowl big enough to fit all the ingredients and leave room for you to stir. Discard the skin like last season’s jeans. Add the sugar, eggs, butter, salt, and vanilla to the persimmon bowl. Strain the brandy into it too, leave the raisins out for now. Measure the baking soda into a tiny cup or bowl, scoop two teaspoons of boiling (or almost boiling) water from the steam pot and stir in to the baking soda to activate it. Add the baking soda, now in paste form, to the persimmon bowl. Take a hand blender and blend everything until homogenous. (You can also do this in a large blender or a food processor.)
Sift together the flour and spices. Add to the persimmon bowl and blend again until homogenous. You’ll need to scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula to get everything nice and incorporated. Fold in the plump raisins and walnut halves to distribute them evenly in the batter.
Pour the batter into the buttered mold. (Say that five times. Go on, do it.) Poke the batter in the mold here and there a few times and tap the mold on the countertop to let out air pockets. Do remember to line the counter with a folded towel before you tap away or your vintage pudding mold will be sorry. Put the lid on the mold if you have a proper steamed pudding mold. (If you’re too cheap to buy one and must make do with a bundt pan or something, just cover it tightly with two layers of aluminum foil.) Place the filled mold into the pot, turn the heat down to simmer and let it steam for 2.5 hours.
Yes, I said two and a half hours, after which you will remove the mold from the pot, let cool for a few minutes, then open the lid and flip the mold over a pretty serving plate. Don’t even think about peeking, it’ll be a soggy mess. Just simmer it for 2.5 hours like the recipe says, you won’t overcook it, I promise. If you’re using smaller molds, then you’ll need to reduce the time a little, and you’ll need to check it. Just make sure you remove the mold from the pot before you peek inside it. You’ll know the pudding is done when the top springs back when pressed lightly.
- 2 cups | 400ml of cream
- 1/4 cup | 50g granulated sugar
- enough brandy to taste it
- some more brandy and a match to flambé it to serve, you pyromaniac you
When you’re ready to serve, whip the cream with the sugar and tip the bottle of brandy into it. No, not the whole bottle, but just enough so you could taste it. Frankly I never measure this part. Put the whipped cream in a pretty bowl and set it on the table so your guests could serve themselves.
Pour some more brandy over the pudding, light a match and flambé it. Wait until the flame burns out before you slice the pudding and serve. (I didn’t think I needed to warn you but my lawyer made me.) The pudding keeps very well at room temperature, and has an added bonus of being surprisingly sturdy, so you could pack and ship it just about anywhere.
There you have it, and old-fashioned Steamed Persimmon Pudding. If you love it, raise a glass toward the general direction of Beverly Hills and drink to my darling Lizzie and her partner-in-gastronomic-high-crimes John Haskell. I know they’ll love it.