Bill Smith’s Persimmon Pudding

Chapel Hill chef Bill Smith is a regular on a “A Chef’s Life” and this time he shares a recipe for persimmons. Smith recommends an old-fashioned food mill, such as Mulinex, for pureeing the persimmons. Reprinted with permission from “Seasoned in the South: Recipes from Crook’s Corner and From Home,” by Bill Smith (Algonquin Books, 2006)

1 tablespoon plus 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3 cups persimmons
2 cups buttermilk
1 ½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 4x8x12-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Use a food mill, sieve or cone strainer to remove the seeds from the persimmons and puree the pulp; it will reduce them from 3 cups to 2 cups. Combine the puree with the buttermilk. Beat the remaining butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until fluffy. Add the eggs one by one. By hand, in a large mixing bowl, stir the persimmons into the butter. 

Sift all the dry ingredients together and fold them into the persimmon mixture. Put the batter into the baking pan, and place the pan in a larger pan and fill halfway up with warm water. Bake, uncovered, for 1 ¼ hours, or until the pudding is firm at the center, has pulled away from the sides of its pan, and a paring knife inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean. 

Serve hot with fresh whipped cream. This keeps well in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days and reheats beautifully in the oven or microwave.

Yield: 8-10 servings