California Persimmon Pudding

November 30, 2016
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 10
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

What You'll Need
  • 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 vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon brandy (adjust to taste, up to 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Lemon Sauce
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch (disolved in water)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  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.]

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • arbequina
  • Claire S
    Claire S
  • GirlWomanPerson
  • NXL

16 Reviews

arbequina December 18, 2022
Made this in an improvised steamer with a square cake pan mounted in a dutch oven and it turned out great! Baked at 300 (in a closed water bath in the dutch oven) and it was perfect. Super moist and spicy -- great texture and flavor. I may spring for a pretty bundt-shaped pudding mold if this becomes a staple.
GirlWomanPerson November 21, 2020
I made this three times in one week (without the brandy). It's just a really good, moist, sweet and spiced dessert. You can steam it in a water bath in the oven too, which is great.
GirlWomanPerson November 13, 2020
Made it without the brandy. It's simple and fantastic. The pudding is soft and sweet and the flavor of the persimmons holds up.

I also tried halving the recipe for a 4 cup mold and it worked too.
NXL March 12, 2020
I bought a pudding mold just to try this recipe, and I'm so glad I did! This is one of the most delicious, moist, dense cakes I've ever made . The lemon sauce is perfect with it.
Caroline November 30, 2018
Excellent. My 95 year old mother loves persimmon baked goods but can’t cook for herself any longer. My neighbor gave me some Hachiyas, so I tried this. My mother, sister and nieces thought it was fabulous, as did I.

I followed the recipe very closely. To cook it, I improvised, putting the batter into a glass casserole dish with glass lid, and placing that inside my great-grandmothers old roasting pan on a rack, and opening the steam vent in the very high lid. Added boiling water and put it in the oven. That was a busy day, so this is an estimate, but I think I steamed it for almost 3 hours at about 300 degrees. It was very moist, even a little gooey, in the middle but more cakelike at the edges. Adjust cooking time accordingly.

I was impatient to turn it out, so a little stuck to the bottom of the casserole; do let it cool first.

The lemon sauce is very good. I followed the suggestion to double the recipe. But one batch would be adequate if you don’t want the pudding swimming in sauce or leftover for other uses.

I will definitely make this again!!
Jennifer E. December 8, 2017
My great grandmother lived in L.A. and passed this same recipe with the lemon curd on to my mother and it has been part of our Thanksgiving/Christmas repetoire for the last 50 years. So fun to know it is unique to California, she must have seen it in the LA Times or Sunset!
Margarita U. January 1, 2017
To avoid problem mentioned in recipe with persimmons hardening I first creamed butter and had in separate bowls the eggs with brandy, the walnuts and the raisins. When it called for persimmons I then took out pulp and pureed it adding baking soda. Let it rest a few minutes then no problem adding fruit.
Margarita U. January 1, 2017
Delicious but mine fell apart. First tried steaming but instructions weren't clear. I couldn't get a rack inside a pot with cover. So steamed uncovered then baked. It fell apart but very tasty. I looked online and you can place a shallow bowl upside down in a pot so base of pudding tin doesn't have direct contact with heat. Then cover with lid. Other persimmon pudding recipes mention baking.
carswell December 22, 2016
I just put the pulp of 4 very ripe persimmons in the freezer. This recipe seems perfect for them.
Gabriella December 16, 2016
What kind of mold do you recommend? Would a glass dish work, or is a bundt pan better?
PJ December 14, 2016
My father made steamed Persimmon puddings (my parents lived in SF). I don’t remember where he got the recipe, but it was delicious. We would each get one to take home. One year we used the microwave to steam the puddings quicker. It worked like a charm. Now I have to find the recipe.
Ttrockwood December 6, 2016
I was born and raised in CA, visit often since my family has always lived there, and we even have a persimmon tree. But i have never ever seen persimmon pudding on a restaurant menu, in a bakery, at a holiday dinner, or offered at friends' may have been popular at one point but certainly not in the past 30yrs or so
Miriam B. December 6, 2016
Where in California? Were your parents & grandparents born there? I've heard feedback from others who have this as a family tradition, but mostly people saying their mothers or grandmothers made it.
Anyway, how lucky to have a persimmon tree in the family. You should try it!
Claire S. December 8, 2016
Maybe it's just the part of CA you lived in? I had a lovely persimmon pudding at the restaurant Camino in Oakland a few weeks ago!
antjas December 1, 2016
Did you really mean 1 tablespoon beaten eggs?
Miriam B. December 1, 2016
No, formatting error! Thanks for catching. (It should be two eggs.)