Kate Christensen celebrates the holidays in Tuscany

Novelist Kate Christensen, who’s been in Tuscany this fall, sends holiday greetings, and a recipe for persimmon pudding.

Hello from Tuscany, which contrary to all the books and movies turns out to be a gated-community-type suburban enclave, staggeringly beautiful as advertised, but very quiet except for the madly honking, bat-out-of-hell drivers on the narrow walled roads. Life here is calm and quiet, wholesome if you don’t count the vats of wine, and hermitlike.

Given this, my big news is that I discovered this morning that the unripe-when-picked persimmons from the tree outside are finally ripe, so I plucked 3 of them off their branch and cut them all in half and scooped them out and whizzed the insides in the blender, which gave me exactly one cup of smooth orangey-gold pulp. With this, I made the following old-fashioned and very easy recipe, which is from an old index card in my half-sister Thea’s recipe box. I steamed the pudding for the full two hours, as instructed, and the second it was done, about 10 minutes ago, we ate huge slices of it with vanilla ice cream and, with our mouths full, we raved to each other about how good it was and are in fact about to go down for more.

In the lamentable absence of any impending soiree with strong cocktails and drunken chatter and everyone all tarted up in shiny clothes, it’s a festive bit of holiday cheer.

Persimmon Pudding

1 c. sugar
1c. flour
1 tsp. baking pwdr
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c milk
1 c. persimmon pulp
2 T. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
sprinkle of nuts

Mix all ingredients except nuts. Pour batter into a greased mold or coffee can or metal mixing bowl (I used a Bundt pan). Sprinkle nuts on top (I used a combination of pine nuts and chopped walnuts because that’s what I had on hand). Set mold on a trivet in a large kettle, and pour water in the kettle to a depth of 2 inches. Cover the kettle and steam the pudding for 2 hours.

Freezes well. Re-steam for 1/2 hour to reheat before serving.

Note: better than vanilla ice cream, serve this with hard sauce, as follows:

1/2 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR 2 tablespoons rum or brandy

Cream butter with confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla extract or rum or brandy.

Image of persimmon tree swiped from Slow Muse.


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