2020 has been a most unusual year, terrible in so many ways, and I think most of us are ready to say goodbye to it. It is not a normal time, and so I’m not really feeling our usual holiday traditions. In fact, rather than clinging to the comfort of the familiar, I am craving change.
I’m not originally from California but there is so much that I’ve come to love about my adoptive home, one being the California winter. Unlike the snow and freezing cold of the East Coast I grew up on, it’s “cold” here when it’s 50 degrees and there’s still fruit on the trees in December, including persimmons, a late fall/early winter fruit in California. Recently I learned of this recipe from Southern cook Nancie McDermott , and although the original calls for ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, I’ve used an Indian chai masala instead, which includes the same spices plus cardamom, cloves and black pepper.
My persimmon trees are at the tail end of their season, with the super-ripe persimmons this recipe calls for. This recipe reminds me of sticky toffee puddings, date-based English puddings my family associates with the holidays, making this a perfect Christmas dessert. A new tradition, from someone else’s recipe, with my own signature spiced style.
Chai Spiced Persimmon Pudding
Adapted from Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking, UNC Press 1989
1 ½ cups AP flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 T chai masala
2 cups persimmon pulp (from very ripe Hachiya persimmons, about 4-5)
2 cups buttermilk
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Optional garnishes: additional pulp from a superripe Hachiya persimmon, or a dollop of crème fraiche, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
Equipment: 2, 8 inch round cake pans
Preheat oven to 325 and grease your cake pans.
Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Whisk together persimmon pulp and buttermilk in another medium bowl.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in the persimmon-buttermilk mixture. Then add in dry ingredients until just combined. Transfer equally to your prepared cake pans.
Bake for 1 to 1.5 hours, until set, but still soft. Like a souffle, it will rise, then fall, and have a tender texture. If desired, you can bake until firmer, like a cake, but I like the custardy texture when baked like a souffle.
Serve warm, with an optional spoonful of additional Hachiya persimmon pulp, a dollop of crème fraiche, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Keep leftovers refrigerated, but reheat before serving for just-baked taste and texture.