Diospyros virginiana or the American persimmon tree has a long history in the state of Indiana and the Midwest dating back to the Native Americans who cultivated it for its fruit and the beautiful wood. The American persimmon is the only persimmon I would use for pudding. You want to buy the pulp and trust me pulping these buggers is a chore best left to the professionals. Every dish in your cupboard will wind up with black pulp, left behind in the dishwasher, on them and if the seeds get into your disposal you may as well remove it and go buy another. That said there is nothing like the smell of perfectly ripe American persimmon pulp and the darker it is the better. It should be close to mahogany in color. I always buy it in 16 oz. containers and I buy 3 or 4 at a time because they age while hanging out in the freezer and I believe the older the better. Persimmon is full of tannins, so like wine, if it sits it mellows. I have some frozen five year old pulp and it is just getting good. Now on to the recipe. If you remember my Freedom Pork and Sticky Greens recipe you will remember Marie. She gave me the original recipe for this and this is my tweaked version that has come together over the years. The dark muscovado sugar is really important as is the semolina so don't skimp, and finally, don't sub out the buttermilk. The buttermilk gives it the character that makes the pudding for me. This is a sentimental and prized recipe for me so if you like this sort of thing I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. So this is for Marie who by allowing me to photograph her life also allowed me to win the college version of the Pulitzer prize(The Hearst Foundation) for a photo essay and in doing so also taught me a good deal of Indiana culinary history. —thirschfeld
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a rack in the middle position. Butter a 13 x 9 baking dish.
Sift the two flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder into a bowl.
Combine the persimmon pulp, eggs and two sugars in another bowl and mix. In the measuring cup mix the buttermilk with the baking soda and pour it into the pulp.
Whisk the flour into the pulp mixture and whisk. Add the cream and melted butter and pour it into the prepared pan.
Bake it in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool completely. The pudding will deflate as it cools so don't worry.
To make the whipped cream, whip heavy whipping cream until it begins to froth. Add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form. Serve the pudding with a dollop of whipped cream.