Top 100 Cake Blog

Top 100 Cake Blog

Friday, September 3, 2010

Way Down Yonder I Baked a Paw Paw Cake

Paw Paws are one of the rare fruits that don't seem to be grown commercially; at least I've never seen them for sale.  
So to get a paw paw, you need a connection.  This year, a co-worker who has a paw paw tree in her backyard brought in a bunch of these exceedingly ugly fruits and, while they are delicious eaten out of hand, I took some home and turned them into cake.

Paw paws

I couldn't find a recipe for paw paw anything in my collection, but thanks to Google, had my choice of many -- or so I thought. But the eight paw paws I brought home yielded only  1/2 cup of pulp and most recipes called for at least one cup and often three.  

Paw paw pulp

Paw paws are compared to bananas and mangoes and are quite fragrant, though by the time they're ripe they look like they belong in the compost heap.  They are also filled with big black seeds, making harvesting the pulp messy and challenging. Despite all of these obstacles, the flavor is divine and the cake was a big hit among family and colleagues. I was especially pleased when I brought a slice to my new best friend Julie Mihaly who knew exactly what paw paws were and even called her mother (who used to pick them) to reminisce. (Please check out Julie's fab online magazine:

Like everyone else, I had heard of paw paws, but wasn't quite sure what they were. My only reference was the Appalachian folk tune (some abbreviated lyrics below) and DH's constant refrain to my questions, "Have you seen my (choose one) book, glasses, purse?" which was "Why don't you look in the paw paw patch?"

Where, oh where, oh where is Susie?
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.
Picking up paw-paws; put 'em in a basket.
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.
Come along, boys, and let's go find her.
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch

Pawpaw Cake i
  • 1¾ c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. milk
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ c. shortening
  • 1½ c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ c. pureed pawpaw pulp
  • ½ c. chopped pecans or hickory nuts
  • 3 egg whites, beaten stiff
Sift first four dry ingredients together. Combine milk and lemon juice and set aside to sour. Cream shortening, add sugar gradually, and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Then add dry ingredients alternately with pawpaw puree and soured milk. Fold in the beaten egg whites and the chopped nuts. Pour into two lightly greased and floured 9-inch layer-cake pans. Bake in a moderate oven (350o F) 35 to 40 minutes. Frost with:
Lemon Butter Frosting
  • ½ c. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • grated lemon rind
  • 1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. cream (approximately)
Cream the butter until fluffy, using an electric mixer. Blend in the lemon juice and a small amount of grated lemon rind. Add the confectioners’ sugar gradually along with enough cream to make a frosting of the right spreading consistency. Run the beaters long enough to make the frosting very fluffy. Garnish the top of the frosted cake with a grating of lemon rind.


  1. I've never even heard of paw paw. This cake looks so moist and delicious, I'm going to have to keep my eyes and ears out for a connection now!

  2. You never hear of Paw Paws anymore. I guess they aren't easy to find.


  4. I'll have to see if they are available down here in GA. Meanwhile--- I have a recipe for a cake from the Colonial era that uses rosewater-- it's very tasty but a bit problematic finding the ingredients. I also have a fabulous gingerbread cake recipe that's reputed to be from the Civil War era-- are you interested in either or both of those recipes? I'm happy to share/

    1. Message me on Facebook --- Karin Menke Dronenburg---am having trouble getting this to take my e-mail account in the dropdown boxes.

  5. I Posted this recipe on Grammy's Potager my FB Page. Thank you. I have 4 paw paws planted in the last 2 years and intend to plant more this year. They are hosts to the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly and I want enough for me and them.
    Paw Paws are the largest native American Fruit. The colonists wiped them out in New England when they stripped the forests to send lumber back to England. Paw Paw were an important part of the Native American Diet. A yummy Part!
    Thanks Peace Grammy

  6. Actually, paw paw is another word for the papaya fruit. The term paw paw is commonly used in countries such as it is in and light Susan~

    1. The American pawpaw is Asimina triloba, the papaya (also called pawpaw) is Carica papaya, and the South American mountain papaya (or mountain pawpaw) is Vasconcellea pubescens. All are quite tasty :)

  7. I was searching for one of your pie recipes and this paw-paw cake popped up. And then you posted THE song. I grew up in Michigan and lived down the road from Paw Paw, MI and the Paw Paw River. This was one of those songs we frequently sang in music class with the harpsicord or what ever!! You would have thought it was the state song because we sang it so often. That just made me laugh and brought back lots of memories when I saw your post. I don't think very many people have ever heard of that fruit.

  8. I've made pawpaw cake only I used a cream cheese frosting. Yummy . Won a blue ribbon at out county Fair

  9. Can we have a low carb n sugar free recipe with Pawpaw please... Thanks in advance

  10. I really think you should have given credit to Kentucky State University, who gathered these recipes that you copied, or maybe to E. Phyllis Clark, "West Indian Cookery", the book that KSU credited the recipe to.