Persimmons for Thanksgiving. November 24, 2010Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
Tags: Bill Neal, Laurel's Kitchen, persimmon bread, persimmon pudding, persimmon recipes, persimmons, thanksgiving, Thanksgiving food
Silence Dogood here. For the past week, we’ve been getting a lot of blog searches here at Poor Richard’s Almanac for the persimmon pudding recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen. Now, Laurel’s Kitchen in all its incarnations is one of my favorite cookbooks, for the heartwarming stories, delightful woodcut illustrations, and earnest attempts to turn us all into healthy vegetarian cooks as much as for the recipes.
Determined to find the persimmon pudding recipe and share it in time for Thanksgiving, I grabbed The New Laurel’s Kitchen (Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Brian Ruppenthal, Ten Speed Press, 1986) off my shelf. But the only mention of persimmons suggested adding “1 large, ripe persimmon, peeled and cut up, and a tablespoon of raisins” to a cup of yogurt. I’ll bet that’s good, but it’s not my idea of pudding.
Moving on, I checked the original Laurel’s Kitchen (Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey, Nilgiri Press, 1976). But alas: Not only was there no persimmon pudding, there were no persimmons, period. The index moved straight from pernicious anemia to pesticides with nary a persimmon in sight.*
Undaunted, I reached for the last of my Laurel’s Kitchen books, The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book (Laurel Robertson with Carol Flinders and Bronwen Godfrey, Random House, 1984). Maybe it was a persimmon bread pudding? Again, I failed to find persimmon pudding, but this time, at least I found persimmon-nut bread. Here’s the recipe:
Rich in flavor as well as festive in spirit, this bread makes an occasion of dessert, with or without homemade vanilla ice cream.
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 cup persimmon pulp
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour [Today's cooks might want to try white whole wheat instead.---Silence]
1/2 cup whole wheat bread flour [ditto]
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 4″ loaf pan. Cream the butter and honey. Beat in the egg and then mix in the persimmon pulp. Sift the dry ingredients together. Stir in the nuts. Add them all at once to the liquid ingredients, stirring lightly just until well mixed. Turn the batter into the pan, place it on a cookie sheet, and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until done.
Okay, fine. But what about that darned persimmon pudding? Who would have a recipe for that? A Southern cook, I was betting. And sure enough, there it was in Bill Neal’s great Southern cookbook Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie (Knopf, 1990). He even notes that “Persimmon pudding was formerly a traditional Thanksgiving dessert in the South.” So, persimmon-pudding lovers, here’s the recipe:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups persimmon pulp
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup plus 2-4 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cream the 1/2 cup butter and sugar well. Add the eggs, one by one. Stir in the persimmon pulp. Sift the flour, spices, and salt together. Add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk. Stir in the orange zest and juice and 1/4 cup dark rum [we like Gosling dark rum---Silence]. Pour into a greased 9 x 12″ baking dish and bake for about an hour, until lightly browned and set in the middle. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack. Let settle for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, blend the 2 tablespoons butter, powdered sugar, and the remaining dark rum to taste. Prick the top of the pudding well with a fork. Spread the butter-sugar-rum mixture over the top of the pudding; it will be absorbed by the warm pudding. This is delicious warm, cut into small squares, with a little Milk Punch Ice Cream. Serves 16.
Hmmm, sounds sort of like persimmon cake to me. Needless to say, American persimmons would traditionally have been used in this recipe, but if you can’t find them, I don’t know why you couldn’t try it with oriental persimmons, as long as they’re quite ripe. If you make it, let us know what you think!
‘Til next time,
* Reader Beth came to the rescue with the authentic Laurel’s Kitchen Persimmon Pudding recipe, from a calendar they published in 1981. See her comment for the recipe.