Steamed Persimmon Pudding is a newer variety of steamed puddings that go back at least 400 years, with the first actual recipes appearing in the 1700's. Sometimes called Christmas puddings, or plum puddings, because they were made at Christmas time, and generally contained raisins, which were called plums at that time. Distinctly British in origin, the puddings were made using black treacle (in the USA we usually use molasses) suet, raisins, spices and laced with brandy or wine. These pudding can be made well in advance, and reheated before serving. Serve with whipped cream, hard sauce or Crème Anglaise. It's also impressive to dim the lights, heat a ladle of brandy, light it on fire, and pour the lovely blue flame over the top!
Butter a 2 quart, or several smaller pudding molds. Whatever you use, it needs to be able to be sealed tightly. If you don't have pudding molds, you can use clean cans, such as a coffee can that has a snap on lid.
Using a small bowl, mix the persimmon puree with the baking soda, and set it aside. As it sits, it will become quite stiff. Let it sit at least 10 minutes before adding it to the batter.
Combine the flour, spices, nuts, raisins and currants. Toss to coat the nuts, raisins and currants. Coating them with the flour will help to evenly distribute them when added to the pudding batter.
In a large mixing bowl, or bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until they are light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each into the batter before adding the next. Then, add the lemon juice and rum, and mix to combine. Now that your persimmon puree has set for at least 10 minutes, mix it into the batter.
Add the dry ingredients (flour/raisins/currants/nuts). If using an electric mixer, beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until completely combined, or if mixing by hand, using a rubber spatula works best.
Spoon the batter into the mold or molds, leaving about an inch to allow for the batter to rise and then cover tightly. If you are not using an actual steamer lid, place a round of parchment paper on the top of the batter, then over that secure a sheet of heavy aluminum foil. Using a pot that is large enough to hold the mold, place the mold on top of a folded dish cloth, and fill the pot with enough boiling water to come half way up the sides of your mold. Cover the pot, and simmer the puddings for 2 hours. You should check it a few times to make certain that there is sufficient water, and that it is simmering, not boiling.
After the two hours, remove the puddings from the water, allow to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife along the edges to free it from the sides. Wait another 15 minutes, and invert the pudding over a wire cooling rack to unmold.
Serve warm with whipped cream, hard sauce, rum sauce, custard sauce or flame the pudding with heated brandy or rum.
NOTE - If you are using a can, or other container that is not coated with a nonstick surface, I find that lining the bottom with a piece of buttered parchment paper can save a lot of headaches in the unmolding process.
To store the puddings, as soon as they are completely cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and the in foil. If you plan to serve them in within the week you can store in the refrigerator, if longer, slip the foil wrapped puddings into a ziplock bag and freeze. To serve, remove the wrapping and warm in a 300 degree oven or a microwave works well too.
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