Since my last post, I am catching up with posting photos and recipes (with the new format this time!) we have been working on with Mayumi for the last few weeks. It has been intense and we are almost for a nice collection of her best of pastries for her cookbook.
A bit of history, almond friands (“financiers” in French) cakes were originally called “visitandines” as they were created by the nuns from the Visitation Order in the Est of France in the Lorraine region in the 17th Century. It is said the sisters prepared those cakes in the shape of an oval at a period when it was restricted for couvents to eat meat, but also to finish the remaining egg whites as they were using egg yolk for their paintings. However during the Renaissance period almond based pastries disappeared because it was common practice to use cyanide for poisoning as it has the same smell as bitter almond. So everyone was wary about any food with almond.
Then towards 1890, a French pastry chef, Mr Lasne brought back the “visitandines” and called them “financiers”, as his pastry shop was close to the Bourse in Paris (financial trading building) and gave them the shape of golden bar. Another story says that a Swiss pastry chef wanted to copy the “visitandines” but gave them the shape of a golden bar, hence called “financiers”.
Almond friands are really easy to prepare and make a nice treats for afternoon tea. The almond meal gives them a nice moisture and even more when you combine them with berries or rhubarb. Mimi’s has her own recipe, which you can use as a base for so many variations in taste or in shape. My favourite are with raspberries. You can easily find the pans online but this time we used some vintage pans I found here in and the ones Mimi had ordered from Japan (the pipe shaped ones). And if you can’t find those pans, you can use a muffin tray instead and it will work perfectly too.Here are some variations you can play around with:
Sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds
Raspberries & pistachios (or just raspberries!)
Blueberries & lime
Chocolate & banana
and so on…
Prep time 15 min / Baking time 15 min
Make 15 friands
110g (3.9 oz) butter
110g egg whites (about 3 to 4 medium size eggs – note a small egg white weighs circa 30g or 1.0 oz)
75g (2.6 oz) almond meal
170g (3/4 cup or 5.95 oz) sugar
50g (1/3 cup or 2 oz) flour
20g (1 Tbsp) honey
Grease the cake pans with melted butter and sprinkle with flour so the dough does not stick.
Make a brown butter and cool it down around 40°C / 104°F (still a bit warm)
In the bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (the almond meal, flour and sugar). Add the egg whites together with honey and mix well.
Add the brown butter little by little and whisk well for the dough to be smooth.
Bake at 180°C / 350° F for 12-15 min.
Leave in the pan for 5 min before taking them out and let them cool on a cooling grid.
The friands will keep up to 5 days in a air-tight container…if you can resist not eating them before!
Make sure your brown butter is not too light or dark in colour! This will bring a rich and gorgeous flavour to the cakes. You’ll enjoy even more your tea time!
The friands base will keep up to a week in the fridge. Then you’ll still get fresh cakes when you bake them during that period.
For the chocolate version use the base recipe and add 2 Tbsp. of cocoa powder together and reduce the flour to 40g (1/4 cup or 1 1/2 oz).