Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pawpaw Poundcake


    I am excited to say I was fortunate enough to discover Pawpaws in my area this late summer, something I had only heard of in song by Baloo the Bear in "Bare Necessities"  (The Jungle Book) and childhood accounts of seeing the trees and eating the fruit while hiking from my older sister Gayle.
     Pawpaws grow here in the Eastern and Southern United States, about 26 native states. They are the largest edible fruit in the United States, and can weigh in up to a pound .  Also, they were referred to by some as the "Indian Banana".   Other nicknames include "poor man's banana, Kentucky banana, and American custard apple".  Pawpaws are a delicious and fragrant fruit, which taste like a cross between a banana and a mango to some, with subtle hints of melon and pineapple.  The pulp is very unctuous and custard-like, very much like an avocado, a perfect consistency for smoothies.
     Pawpaws are also a suitable substitute for bananas for certain recipes.    They have about 2 grams of fat per serving, and a host of vitamins and minerals including 130% of the RDA for manganese. There are a plethora of other essential nutrients, some surpassing that of apples, oranges and bananas in some areas, upwards of 100 times!  Quite an American Super fruit huh!
     The seeds of the Pawpaw, which resemble kidney beans,  are not poisonous, but are toxic if eaten, and can possibly cause some gastrointestinal issues like upset stomach or diarrhea.  Be sure to REMOVE them before blending or using in any recipe.  The shelf life of a Pawpaw is only several days once fully ripened, but will keep for a week if refrigerated.   They may be pureed and frozen however, so do not despair.
      My first recipe using Pawpaws is the feature of this article, a pound cake. My brother in law, J.R brought me this wonderful batch of goodness and I am super thankful that he thinks of me when coming across new and different items for me to use in my passion for cooking.  He also provides me with wild game and fish, many of which are featured on my blog.   I received rave reviews and my family members are waiting for the next one.  I will be making several more to share during this harvest season ( which runs roughly from late August to Mid-October) before freezing some for more fragrant and fabulous dishes in the future!
Recipe:
3 1/2 c. cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp. double acting baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 c. sugar
6 large eggs
1 c. softened butter, salted or unsalted
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. mashed Pawpaw pulp*
2 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. good quality vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Combine dry ingredients until well blended.
In another bowl, cream sugar, eggs, butter, milk, and pulp.
Add juices and extract.
Mix in flour in two batches, careful not to overwork batter, producing a tough cake.
Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan, tapping on hard surface to release any air pockets.
Bake until toothpick or skewer inserted comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
Let cool for about 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
For Glaze:
1 c. confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. milk, more or less for desired consistency
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, combine confectioner's sugar, butter, vanilla and salt.
Add milk slowly until you reach the desired consistency.
Fold or stir in lemon zest.
Spread or pour over cooled cake.
Serves 16-18.
*Paw Paws should be peeled and de-seeded before use.  Ripe Paw Paws smell fantastically fragrant and will yield to a gentle touch.  The outside will be speckled with dark spots,but the insides will be soft and bright.  I found that the best way to remove the seeds was to wear plastic gloves and squeeze the peeled fruit in a fist over a bowl or plate.   Some of the seeds will pop out from the sides of your palm and the viable pulp may be scraped from the gloves.  Messy, but effective!!

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