A number of years ago, I asked my mother and her first cousins to recount favorite recipes and stories of growing up on Iowa farms during the 1930’s. This generation was quickly aging and I thought that it would be wise to capture their memories for a family reunion book. I love family history. The way of a living on a family farm during the 1920’s to 1930’s — for example, with a wood-burning kitchen stove — is just a memory now. Only one generation ago — my how times have changed! My second cousin, whose grandmother moved to California in about 1910, submitted her grandmother’s recipe for “Persimmon Pudding” for the reunion book.
This second cousin (of my generation) said, “I remember picking huge persimmons off the great tree in back of the farm house (in McFarland, California). Rows of grapevines were near the tree. Sometimes Grandma would have the peeling on when she made persimmon pudding. Grandma Jenny also baked wonderful cinnamon rolls using leftover or extra bread dough. Often when we came to visit, she would be taking them out of the oven — the smell was wonderful.”
California leads the country in production of commercial persimmons. But persimmons are also grown in the southern states as well — both commercially and for home use. And, I have a persimmon tree in my backyard, too. It made a bountiful harvest this year of large Hachiya-type fruit. The tree only produces fruit every other year; so I have to be ready with recipes.
I recalled the the recipe for “Persimmon Pudding” from my cousin. The “pudding” is more like a cake. It is moist, pungent with a wonderful cinnamon flavor. Delicious! I dusted it with powdered sugar and served it with whipped cream topping.
Over the years, I have learned a little about persimmons. If you eat the fruit before it is fully ripe — you mouth will surely pucker. Fortunately, the persimmons ripen a few at a time. I pick the persimmons while still firm and let them set on my kitchen table. When completely ripe, the fruit is very soft, the pulp is bright orange, gelatinous and loses most of it’s astringency. Then it is time to use the persimmons.
I have found a variety of recipes for using persimmons. Add persimmons to breads, desserts, cakes, cookies or substitute in any recipe using applesauce, bananas or pumpkin pulp. I have been using persimmons in place of bananas my breakfast oatmeal smoothies. I made delicious persimmon ice cream and also “muddy bayou bottom pie.” Our local newspaper, The Advocate, listed a recipe this week for Persimmon Bars which looked mighty tempting. This post I’m making my Great-Aunt Jenny’s Persimmon Pudding.
Making the Recipe for Persimmon Pudding
This is a very easy one-bowl recipe. Although the recipe is entitled, “Persimmon Pudding,” mine turned out more like “Persimmon Cake.” It makes a tasty cake, just the same. Here are the ingredients:
To make the recipe, add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl. Add the gelatinous pulp of three very ripe, large persimmons to the dry ingredients; then mix in the other ingredients. Place in an oiled 9″ x 9″ baking dish and set in a large pan of water. Bake in the oven at 325 degrees until the top is springy and the aroma of cinnamon floats through the air.
Cool slightly and invert onto cake platter. Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with a few pecan pieces.
How long to you bake this cake? The original recipe stated to bake the batter for 1-1/2 hours. Woah. I guess the recipe title is “pudding” so the cake is supposed to steam. However, this was way too long and my cake was burnt on top; and so I have reduced the baking time in my instructions. Fortunately, the cake still tasted great.
The original Blough family — my grandmother and her siblings — scattered all over the country and just a few second cousins remain in Iowa. Great-aunt Jenny move to California in the early 1900’s as a young lady. She married and the couple became very successful farmers in the Modesto, California, area. I am glad I captured the memories and recipes of these older generations. In addition to be fascinating historical information; it also shapes who we are today.
Enjoy the recipe for “Persimmon Pudding” while ripe persimmons are available in produce markets and grocery stores in the fall.
- 1 cup persimmon pulp (I used 3 large Hachiyas persimmons)
- 1-1/2 cup flour
- cup sugar
- 1-1/2 cup flour
- 2 tsp soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 Tbsp butter
- powdered sugar
- pecan pieces (optional)
- whipped cream topping or ice cream (optional)
Method and Steps:
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Oil a 9″ x 9″ baking dish.
- Scoop pulp out of persimmons and mash. Discard skins.
- Add In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients — flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
- Make a well in center of dry ingrdients and mix in persimmon pulp, milk egg and butter. Stir until ingredients are just combined — batter will be lumpy.
- Pour into oiled baking dish. Set in pan filled with 1″ water.
- Bake in 325 degree oven top is spring and cake pulls away from edges.
- Remove from oven, cool slightly and invert onto cake platter.
- Dust with powdered sugar. If desired, garnish with pecan pieces.
- Serve with whip cream topping or ice cream, optional.