Pawpaw Bread with Maple-Black Walnut Glaze

At long last, here is the pawpaw quick bread I promised several weeks ago. My shoulder is better, thanks to rest, alternating heat and ice therapy and the occasional careful massage. I’ll be honest, I cannot say if the burdock tea has helped with healing, but it certainly hasn’t hurt anything either!

(Don’t need the backstory? You could just … Jump to Recipe )

But I digress. My shoulder finally felt well enough to wield an electric mixer and bowl! I still have a lot of frozen pawpaw puree to use up from last fall’s bounty, so you may be reading pawpaw recipes for a while!

I’m pleased to report, that despite my unfortunate reaction to pawpaw spice cake a few months ago, I had no digestive issues with this batch of pawpaw bread. The topping was rich enough that I only had one small slice, and no ill side effects followed. Remember to always be careful with new foods!

Black walnut glaze transforms this simple pawpaw quick bread into a decadent delight
Black walnut glaze transforms this simple pawpaw quick bread into a decadent delight

Just to be clear, this recipe is NOT paleo, low carb, or even gluten-free. This is an honest-to-goodness quick bread, like you’d make with extra pumpkin, bananas, or zucchini. Only in this case, wild foraged pawpaw (Asimina triloba) provides the flavor and moisture to bring this bread together. In fact, three of the key ingredients – pawpaw, black walnut (Juglans nigra) and Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri) – were all hyperlocal for me, being grown or foraged within ten miles of my house! Oh, and the eggs. And theoretically the maple syrup could have been local(ish) as well, since sugar maples (Acer saccharum) do grow in Maryland.

I based the walnut topping on this recipe from Hammons. Note: not everyone enjoys the strong flavor of black walnuts in this glaze. In fact of the four taste testers (a.k.a. my family), everyone but me thought the bitterness of the black walnuts clashed with the sweetness of the maple syrup glaze. I thought the flavors blended into something complex and sophisticated but I was definitely in the minority. Feel free to substitute regular walnuts or pecans in the topping to suit your own tastes.

Pawpaw Quick Bread with Black Walnut Glaze showcases wild flavors from Maryland
Pawpaw Quick Bread with Black Walnut Glaze showcases wild flavors from Maryland

To turn the maple syrup into a glaze, it must be heated slowly to the “soft-ball” stage. “Soft-ball” stage, in candy making, is when the syrup has heated to the point where, once cooled, it behaves more like a solid than a liquid. While there is a specific temperature range for soft-ball stage – 235 to 245 F – it is easy to tell even without a candy thermometer. When you drop a small amount of the syrup into a bowl of cold water, it no longer dissolves into the water, and you can roll the syrup into a soft ball with your finger tips. Before this is the “thread” stage, when the syrup forms delicate threads in the cold water; but they break apart if you try to touch them. At the thread stage, much of the glaze will soak into the loaf; at soft ball stage, it sits atop of the loaf because it hardens so much as it cools. You can read more about the thread stage of candy making here, and the soft-ball stage here.

Also, I highly recommend glazing the loaf AFTER you remove it from the loaf pan, despite what you see in the first photo. Trust me on this one, I learned this lesson the hard way!

Too much trouble? The pawpaw quick bread is tasty on its own without the indulgent topping… and a lot easier to toast!

Pawpaw Bread with Maple-Black Walnut Glaze Print Recipe

Makes One Loaf


Maple-Black Walnut Glaze

  • 1/2 c large black walnut pieces
  • 3/4 c maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Earl Gray tea bag

Pawpaw Bread

  • 1 c pawpaw puree
  • zest and juice of one small Meyer lemon; about ¼ tsp of zest and 2 Tbs of juice
  • 1/3 c butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¾ c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt


  1. Add juice and zest to pawpaw puree to help preserve color until it is added to the rest of the batter.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a bread pan, or line with parchment paper.
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each time. Add the pawpaw puree / lemon mixture.  Gradually add dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Don’t overmix, or you will activate the gluten and the texture will be tough.
  5. Pour the ingredients into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack for five to ten minutes before removing from the pan.

While pawpaw bread is baking, prepare the maple-black walnut glaze:

  1. Pour 1/3 c boiling water over tea bag and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Discard the tea bag.
  2. Heat the maple syrup in a heavy bottomed pan until it begins to bubble. Stir constantly during this process so the syrup does not burn. Once the syrup starts to bubble, reduce heat and continue to stir while simmering for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and carefully stir in vanilla extract and ¼ c tea. Return to low heat and bring back to a simmer. Continue to simmer another 10 minutes, then start checking for “soft-ball” stage by drizzling a small amount of syrup into a cold bowl of water; the syrup will form threads that can be rolled into a soft ball with your fingers.
  4. Remove syrup from heat and stir in black walnuts. Let the syrup continue to cool.
  5. Once pawpaw bread has cooled to room temperature, gently pour the black walnut glaze over the bread. If the syrup has gotten too thick to pour, gently rewarm it on low, adding more tea to adjust the thickness as desired, and then glaze the bread.

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