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California Persimmon Pudding

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California Persimmon Pudding

Photo by James Ransom
  • Test Kitchen-Approved
Author Notes

Steamed persimmon pudding was a staple of Sunset Magazine and Bay Area Junior League cookbooks in the late 20th century. This version is slightly adapted from *Taste the Taste Seasons* by Linda Brandt, published by Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary to Children’s Hospital at Stanford. It makes a perfect dessert for Thanksgiving or Christmas when persimmons are in season. (If using Hachiya persimmons as recommended, make sure the fruit is completely soft and jelly-ripe to avoid the pucker factor of unripe persimmons.) —Miriam Bale

  • Serves
  • Steamed Persimmon Pudding

  • 3

    very ripe Hachiya persimmons* [see note below]

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking soda

  • 1/2 cup

    butter (softened)

  • 1 1/4 cups

    sugar (or to taste, adjusted according to sweetness of fruit and accompanying sauces)

  • 2

    lightly beaten eggs

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons


  • 1 tablespoon

    brandy (adjust to taste, up to 3 tablespoons)

  • 1 teaspoon

    lemon juice

  • 1 cup


  • 1 1/4 teaspoons


  • 1/4 teaspoon


  • 1/2 cup

    chopped walnuts

  • 1 cup


  • Lemon Sauce

  • 1/3 cup


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    cornstarch (disolved in water)

  • 2/3 cup


  • 2/3 cup

    orange juice

  • 2 teaspoons

    grated lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons

    fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons


  1. Steamed Persimmon Pudding
  2. Grease a 2-quart pudding mold and its lid with butter or spray with nonstick spray. (You can substitute foil for the lid.)
  3. Peel persimmons and place in a blender or food processor. Whirl until smooth, then transfer to a measuring cup. You should have about 1 cup of purée. Stir in baking soda; set aside. [*Note these should be extremely ripe, almost gooey Hachiya persimmons, bought or picked well in advance. In a pinch, very soft chopped Fuya can be added or substituted. This is preferable to Hachiya that are not completely soft, which will be too bitter to use.]
  4. Cream butter with sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, brandy, and persimmon purée, whisking well to combine. [The persimmon purée will have hardened because of the baking soda, and may be difficult to incorporate. I find using the blender useful at this point, but some orange speckles in the mixture will still lead to a fine result.]
  5. Sift flour with cinnamon and salt into persimmon mixture. Stir to combine; fold in raisins and walnuts.
  6. Spoon mixture into prepared mold and secure lid (or cover tightly with foil). Place on a rack in a large pot filled with 2 inches of boiling water. Cover and steam for at least 2 1/2 hours, adding more boiling water as needed. Remove and set aside for ten minutes to cool.
  7. Invert pudding onto serving plate to unmold. Serve warm with traditional hard sauce or, as I prefer, with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with brandy to taste. Can also be served with Lemon Sauce (recipe below), as recommended in original recipe.
  1. Lemon Sauce
  2. To make sauce, combine sugar, cornstarch, water and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes until thickened. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes longer or until sauce is transparent. Stir in zest, lemon juice, and butter. Cool.
  3. Offer lemon sauce separately. Consider doubling if it’s the sole sauce offered. [Note: The sauce is delightful, though I think even better on French Toast, or with whipped cream on a meringue or simple cake.]

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