Blueberry muffins are always a treat- sweet, purple berries, plump and juicy bursts of goodness interrupting what might have otherwise been a more mundane muffin experience. These muffins are brought to the next level, because in the background of the blueberry bursts, a fruity, tropical sunshine warms every bite.
That sunshine is thanks to a special ingredient- the pawpaw. The pawpaw tree is native to North America, originally growing in the eastern and mid-west, and has been cultivated to grow across the entire county. Next time you’re wandering, look more closely at the trees- the broad leaved pawpaw tree easily hides its fruit, which blends seamlessly into the trees green canopy. The fruit start to ripen early in September, when the fruits become softer then the hard rocks growing in August.
The inside of the fruits are yellow, pastel or bright. It is filled with black, shiny, button-like seeds- the seeds and the skin should not be eaten. But the fruit is incredible- it is soft, with a banana-like texture, and a taste that is almost equal to a mango, but with the softer tone. The experience is finished with a smooth hint of caramel. There is no way to eat a pawpaw without wondering how it got here- what wrong turn did it take on its way to the tropics, and how has it been surviving the Northern winters? Although this tropical-tasting fruit seems out of place, it’s more American than apple pie- Native Americans have been credited with spreading the fruit across the county.
Pawpaws also serve a role in these muffins beyond being tasty- they actually are serving the role of egg substitute! For those of you new to vegan baking, there are many ingredients that can stand in for the lifting and binding properties of the egg- packed egg replacers, aquafaba, apple sauce, bananas, flax- the list goes on, but to that we can add pawpaw. Mashed up, it can act just like a banana in its egg capacities- about 1/4 cup pawpaw to every egg you want to replace. This recipe uses more pawpaw than it would egg, because we wanted to be sure to get that tropical, caramel flavor coming through strong.
So go find the nearest pawpaw tree, and mash yourself up these muffins. With less than 10 ingredients total, it’s an easy way to appreciate pawpaws in all their glory.
Vegan Pawpaw Blueberry Muffins
- 1 cup of fresh pawpaw
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup vegan milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ½ pint (about 1 cup) of fresh blueberries, washed
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the pawpaw from the skin and seeds, and place one cup of the flesh in a large mixing bowl. Using a potato masher or a fork, mash until it is a smooth consistency. Add the oil, vegan milk and sugar and whisk together well.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Combine the dry ingredients to the wet, and combine. Gently fold in the blueberries.
3. Grease 12 muffins or use muffin liners. Divide the batter evenly, about ¼ cup of batter per muffin. Cook for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan.