Ground Almonds Are The Secret To Keeping Fruit Suspended In Cakes

Does the fruit in your cake always sink to the bottom no matter what you do? Then you may have overlooked the quiet hero in your pantry that can offer a solution: ground almonds (also known as almond meal). This gluten-free ingredient is the secret to keeping fruit suspended in cakes because it provides a thickening body to the batter.

Fruit falls when sitting in cake mix because heavy ingredients sink through lighter ones — it's simply a matter of gravity and density. A slack or loose batter can't hold the mass and volume of halved cherries or heavy chunks of pineapple so they gently fall to the bottom of the tin as they bake, even if you manage to get the cake in the oven as quickly as possible. Conversely, if your cake mix has a thicker and heavier consistency, the fruit will have a greater chance of remaining suspended within the batter. A simple way to bolster the thickness of the cake mix is to supplement or substitute the flour with ground almonds.

Ground almonds have a coarser texture than regular flour, resulting in a denser cake that's better able to hold and maintain the position of the fruit once it's stirred through the batter. Aside from keeping the fruit suspended in the mixture, ground almonds lend cakes a damper, tender character, courtesy of their fragrant natural oils. Plus, they impart a mild nuttiness to baked goods, providing flavor as well as an appetizing texture.

How to add ground almonds to cake batter

A spoonful of ground almonds mixed through your batter will lend your cake some supportive structure without affecting the delicate balance of ingredients. You can also coat the fruit itself with a sprinkling of ground almonds before adding them to the mixture. The almonds will thicken the batter that sits directly around the fruit, preventing them from sinking. You can, of course, make your entire cake using almond flour if you prefer a denser texture and nuttier flavor. However, a mixture of flours, where you've substituted some of the flour in the recipe with the processed almonds, will often result in a bundt, loaf, or muffin cake that's both tender and light.

Be mindful that syrupy dried fruits, such as glacé cherries or canned pineapple, contain more moisture than other varieties of dried fruit, like raisins, apricots, and figs, which makes them extra slippery on the outside and, therefore, prone to sliding down the batter and sinking to the bottom of the pan. If you're using canned fruit, chop them into smaller pieces to reduce their weight before tossing them through the ground almonds to soak up the excess syrup. Try this simple trick and the next time you slice through your homemade cherry cake, you'll see an even distribution of fruit in every comforting wedge.