If you've ever made Ina Garten's blueberry breakfast cake only to discover all the blueberries were at the bottom of the cake once you baked it, then you know fruit and cakes can present a true culinary challenge. Those beautiful berries and other fruity elements bursting with sweetness can really sink your end result. That is unless you grab a page from Julia Child's playbook. The American chef schooled in all things French faced the same problem, but she came up with a genius solution.
Child used this trick specifically when she made her berry clafoutis, but it is easily adaptable. To keep fruit from sinking, she would pour a quarter of the cake batter into whatever pan she was using and place it on the stovetop for just a few minutes over low to medium heat — just long enough for the batter to have a slightly congealed skin. From there, you can add your fruit with the rest of the batter and bake. This tried-and-true method creates a layer of cake that impedes the fruit from sinking.
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Gravity At Work
Why does fruit sink in the first place? Some fruits are quite dense and simply too big and heavy to be suspended in the batter. As a cake bakes and rises, gravity takes over, and all that fruit sinks. Candied cherries, blueberries, cranberries, apples, and strawberries all find their way into this category. Sadly, coating them with a dusting of flour isn't going to prevent a pile of fruit from ending up lost at the bottom of your cake.
Child's technique may seem intimidating, but don't let it scare you away. It may take a couple of cakes to perfect it, but once you do, your fruit will be distributed throughout your cake much more evenly. That said, if you don't want to bake a layer of cake first for fear that a portion of your cake might be drier than the rest, you could skip using whole fruit and instead cut your apples, pears, and berries in half or smaller and dust them with flour before mixing them into the batter. Working with smaller pieces of fruit and coating them with a little flour will help to keep them floating in the batter rather than sinking.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.