That’s a pipa.
Believe it or not, a pipa is not a persimmon. They aren’t even related.
What, this isn’t news to you? You don’t really care? Well that makes me feel a little bit better about the fact that I had no clue what a pipa was until after I started writing this post.
In the course of my editing, I came across a photo of a pipa, and realized that the little orange fruits that I had mashed up into a quick bread recipe were not actually a bizarre brand of persimmons-as I originally allowed myself to believe. Nope, not even close.
Of course, when I called my mom on Skype to confess that I had mistakenly served Pipa Raisin Bread instead of Persimmon Raisin bread to no less than 10 people last weekend, she responded with a chuckle saying “oh yes, pipa and persimmon are totally different fruits, of course.” That is just one more reason why my mom is awesome. She has never been to Asia but she knew instantly what a pipa was and how I had made the mistake. That woman knows everything I tell you. It’s almost scary.
In any case, Pipa Raisin Bread is quite tasty and I highly recommend you make it with any pipa you have rolling around your refrigerator. What’s that you say? You don’t have any pipa at your grocery store or any fabu little fruit markets where it is possible to buy random-ass fruit like pipa at? No? Ok well in that case, I bet persimmon would also be delicious in this recipe. (As would apples, bananas or anything else you can mash up to a pulp, this is quick bread: the easiest baked good known to man-kind after all).
Pipa are EVERYWHERE in Chengdu right now. They are in markets, in stalls, in giant woven baskets on the street and in the back of fruit-seller’s mini-trucks. The other night, Chris and I stopped by a fruit stall to pick up some lychee and the lao ban offered me a a complimentary taste of the overripe pipa he was also selling. I couldn’t say no. I have no will power against the fructose people, in whatever bizarre form it presents itself to me.
IT was though, quite a delicious fruit market experience. The taste was was unlike anything I had ever tried-a bit like orange/peach/apple. The texture was that of a peeled grape-different but oddly satisfying. Though I didn’t know the name of the fruit, it struck me that they might taste good in the yet-to-be-planned-but-wholly-necessary quick bread baking project I had planned for the weekend.
I’m a fan of having some sort of quick bread or muffins around for the weekends. I hate going round to friend’s houses for brunch without bringing something to contribute. When the sun is shining and we got a weekend full of plans though, the last thing I want to do is spend my whole Saturday morning slaving away in the kitchen. Quick breads are the perfect solution. I can whip one up quickly on Friday night and still have time to play. They dirty up only one bowl and the flavor only gets better over the course of a few days. Did I mention that they are easy to wrap in plastic wrap and throw in your purse on your way out the door?
In the case of this Pipa Raisin Quick Bread, the flavor is subtle and unique. It’s sweet but not too sweet. We brought it to two brunches and a birthday party where it was nibbled on and polished off quickly. It’s great toasted with a little bit of butter or jam but its also sweet enough and flavorful enough to eat on its own.
The pipa mellows a lot during the baking process but keeps things nice and moist. I think a little bit of orange zest or a splash of cointreau would be great in this recipe to help amp up the citrus notes. Without any liquor or my trusty microplane on hand, I substituted with a few drops of this magical substance from King Arthur’s Flour. It was delicious.
I adapted the recipe from a James Beard Persimmon Bread recipe that I found on the internets. Adaption is probably an understatement. This is a full-on hack what with the Pipa, the lack of alcohol, and the unsifted flour (horrors, horrors!).
Pipa Raisin Quick Bread
Makes 1 9inch loaf or 4 mini loafs
1 and 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour (use a blend of wheat and white all-purpose=extra yummy and extra healthy)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 to 1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar (use less if you like it less sweet but plan on slightly drier bread)
1/2 Cup melted butter (vegetable oil will also work here)
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 to 1 and 1/2 cups pipa, peeled and pureed
1 to 1 and 1/2 cups golden raisins (regular are probably also great but golden is all we have here)
2 tablespoons orange zest OR up to 1/4 cup Cointreau OR a few drops of Fiori Di Siscilia
Optional: pinch of nutmeg and/or cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter loaf pans.
2. Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
3. Make well in the center of the dry ingredients and add butter, egg, pipa puree, orange zest/cointreau/fiori di siscilia. Add raisins. Stir until just combined.
4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.
5. Bake in oven at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. This will be approximately 55 minutes to 1 hour for a large loaf or 25-30 minutes for a mini loaf.