When I walk around my neighborhood, I catalog fruit trees. I know who has the most prolific loquat, whose tangerines are ready to drop, and whose Santa Rosa plums need pruning. I've tried, and failed, to gather enough courage to knock on the front doors belonging to the apricot, fig and tangelo trees whose fruit I covet, even though I suspect the squirrels are getting most of it.
Backyard fruit is one of the best things about living in southern California. Especially when said fruit belongs to friends who are happy to share.
Last week I brought home a bag of Fuyu persimmons from a friend's yard. Once again I forgot that no one in my house likes persimmons. Last year that same mistake resulted in a batch of delicious persimmon spice muffins. This year I was in the mood for bread pudding.
Leftover cornbread makes an excellent foundation for bread pudding, by the way. Cut it into cubes, dry it out in the oven, and soak it in custard just as you would any other bread. It's more dense than challah or brioche, so the final pudding is more chewy than airy, but the flavor is knock-your-socks-off special. Especially when combined with sweet, exotic persimmons.
I'm thinking this persimmon cornbread pudding might just become a regular on Californian Thanksgiving tables. Sorry, squirrels. We're taking back our fruit.
Persimmon cornbread pudding
Leftover cornbread and crunchy Fuyu persimmons bake up sweet and satisfying in this custard-rich bread pudding. Perfect for Thanksgiving.
- 1 batch sweet corn bread (from an 8-inch square pan; I use the recipe on the Albers cornmeal box)
- 4 Fuyu persimmons
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the corn bread into small cubes, about 3/4-inch square. Put the corn bread on a baking sheet and bake until the squares are lightly browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. You don't want them to burn, but you want to try to get them as dry as possible. Remove the corn bread from the oven and raise the temperature to 400 degrees.While the corn bread is toasting, peel the persimmons and cut the flesh into bits about the same size as the corn bread cubes.In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Add the toasted bread cubes and the diced persimmons and toss well. Let the mixture sit in the bowl, tossing occasionally, about 30 minutes. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in the corn bread mixture, including all the liquid. Bake about 45 minutes, or until the pudding is set and no longer jiggles when you shake the pan.Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving. The pudding will be puffed up when it comes out of the oven, but don't be alarmed when it falls - that's normal. Serve warm or at room temperature. Whipped cream would be a lovely accompaniment.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6-8 servings