What’s Cooking is a series in which I share advice and answer questions you may have about food and cooking, but are too shy to ask.
Do you like pound cake (Guyanese sponge) with dried fruits like raisins and cherries? Do you get frustrated when you cut into the cake only to find that all the fruits have sunk to the bottom of the cake? No worries, we’ll remedy the situation in this edition of What’s Cooking.
Why do the fruits sink? There are some dried fruits that tend of have a light coating of vegetable oil that cause them to be slippery, therefore, as the cake rises during baking, they sink to the bottom. In the case of glazed cherries, they contain a lot of moisture and easily drop to the bottom of the cake as it rises. The trick is to dust the dried fruits in flour and fold them into the cake batter just before adding the pan to the oven. What? You tried that and it didn’t work? I’m not surprised; it has happened to me in the past. Here’s what I’ve figured out that works for me every time.
Just as how the ingredients for the cake should be at room temperature, 1especially the eggs and butter, so too should the dried fruits. Therefore, if you store your fruits in the refrigerator, remove them early and let them come up to room temperature. You will see that they plump up and become shiny. Spread them out evenly on paper towels and take another paper towel and pat them to remove any residual moisture or oil. Leave the fruit to air dry for a few minutes before tossing them with some flour. Glazed cherries are too large and very sticky from their syrup so what you want to do is to cut your cherries in half or quarters, rinse them a few times in tap water and then wrap them in paper towels to remove all moisture. Then and only then, toss them in some flour.
I have found that in order for the flour to really adhere to the dried fruits, it is important to let them sit in the flour for several minutes or longer after tossing them. This way they get a really good coating of flour that will help to keep them suspended in the batter as the cake rises and cooks. So remember, as soon as the fruits have been brought to room temperature (rinse where necessary), pat dry, and then toss in flour. Every 5 minutes, toss the fruits with the flour so that it coats really well.
Lightly shake off the excess flour before adding the fruits to the cake batter. Do this just before adding the cake to the oven. Here’s what to do – scatter the fruit on top of the batter in the mixing bowl and fold them into to the batter. Take the mixing spoon or spatula, cut into the batter and turn the spoon/spatula back onto itself. Repeat this action as you simultaneously turn the mixing bowl until all the fruit has been folded in. For good measure, give another fold of the batter and then pour into prepared baking pan. That should do the trick. Try it and let me know.