I saw a recipe where ground-up walnuts were a substitute for flour but this was for a cake that you do not cook (it was a recipe for chocolate cake made out of zucchini.

Can powdered walnuts (grounded by a food processor) ever be used as a substitute for flour in more normal cakes, particularly ones that contain flour and are baked?

Here is the recipe http://cookingalamel.com/2013/03/raw-chocolate-cheesecake.html

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    After the edit: Now cheesecake is a totally different thing. Cheesecakes don't even usually call for flour, whether they're baked or not. Ground nuts are often in the crust or garnish, but not the cake itself. – Jolenealaska Dec 16 '14 at 20:15
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    To clarify Jolene's point: the nuts in that cake aren't a replacement for flour. They're a partial replacement for the cream cheese that'd normally be the bulk of the cake. That recipe is so far from actual cheesecake that regarding any of it as substitution will probably lead you astray. Is something along those lines a sufficient answer for you, or is there a further question you're trying to ask? – Cascabel Dec 16 '14 at 20:27
  • These all answer my questions, thank you! – Glowie Dec 16 '14 at 20:35
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    Finely blended (in a blender, not a food processor) nuts (usually cashews) are commonly used in indian dishes as a substitute or augmentation for cream and other heavy dairy products, Same principle has been applied to cheesecake here... – rackandboneman Sep 7 '16 at 14:11

Sort of. Nut flours are the base of many "flourless" cakes and torts. This one from Joy of Baking is typical, and uses almond flour, which is more common than walnut. Here's one that specifically uses walnut. Note that these are not examples of using nut flours as a substitution for flour, they are recipes developed for nut flours. Both of those recipes start with whole nuts that are ground in a food processor or spice grinder.

Wheat flour behaves very differently, if you want to bake a cake using nut flour in combination with or instead of wheat flour, search for recipes that call for nut flour. Trying to work out an actual substitution would be fraught with peril. Nuts are full of fat and non-gluten protein, wheat flour has starch and gluten forming protein (although a high gluten level is not usually desirable in cakes, that's why cake flour is lower in protein than AP, so that it creates less gluten).

Now I see from the edit to the question that the zucchini/chocolate cake that led to the qustion is actually a kind of cheesecake. Cheesecakes generally don't contain flour, in the case of your recipe the nuts are actually replacing a portion of the cream cheese. In other cheesecakes you might see nuts in the crust or garnish, but I've never seen flour in the filling.


A direct substitution would not work. The cake needs gluten to rise properly. You could replace up to 1/4 the weight of the wheat flour with proper nut flour, though without much fuss.

You can't make nut flour by grinding nuts in a blender/food processor. Nut flour is made from the solid material left over after the oil has been pressed from the nuts. You'll wind up with ground nuts or nut butter, neither of which will work well in a cake.

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    The result of finely grinding nuts into a powder using a spice grinder or food processor (before the butter stage) is commonly referred to as "nut flour", even if the powder is not as fine as actual flour. – Jolenealaska Dec 16 '14 at 18:42
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    I agree that this isn't a good direct substitution, but I don't think the issue is gluten - it's starch. Cakes typically have very minimal gluten formation - in fact, gluten development tends to be associated with undesirably tough cakes. In this case, since the OP mentions zucchini, it's probably the quick bread variety of cake, and given that you can make things with textures like that out of cornmeal, I really doubt gluten is required. They still depend on starch for structure, though, and flour is very different from nuts in the starch department. – Cascabel Dec 16 '14 at 18:52
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    @jbarker2160 The OP asked about a cake, specifically one using zucchini, which as I said means it's almost certainly in the quick bread category, not a pastry. The sources you point to do have some good information (including the fact that cakes and pastries tend to try to minimize gluten formation and weaken the structure, as I said), but they're not generally talking about the same kind of baked good this question is. – Cascabel Dec 16 '14 at 19:25
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    @jbarker2160 Yet, what he's saying applies to cakes. Flourless cakes using nut flours are common. The Sachertort from ATK is another example of a nearly flourless cake that uses nut flour ground in a food processor. I didn't include it in the answer because it is paywalled. – Jolenealaska Dec 16 '14 at 20:04
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    Ah, the OP has provided a recipe and it's not a traditional zucchini cake; it's even farther away - it's a fake cheesecake, with basically no crumb structure. Depending on what other kinds of cakes they want to apply the substitution to, possibly none of our comments or answers apply. – Cascabel Dec 16 '14 at 20:15

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