April 13, 2013


Dom’s Random Recipe Challenge this month involves using a random number generator to choose a book from your collection.  You can read the details here.  As we were in France when I decided to take part that meant I had a lot fewer books to choose from, most of them being duplicates of favourites from home.

The random number generator turned up the Women’s Institute book “Cakes”, written by Liz Herbert.  It’s a lovely book full of very cookable recipes.  I flipped the pages and came up with a recipe for “cardamom friands”. 

friands1 Friands are little cakes made with whisked egg white, icing sugar and ground almonds.  You can flavour them with all kinds of things, or add fruit before baking and they are a delicious little treat to have with a cup of tea or coffee.

Traditionally they are baked in special tins or moulds to produce the classic oval shaped cake.  I have one at home in the UK which I use for friands but this time I was in France so I had to use what was to hand in my little French kitchen.  They work perfectly well in a muffin tin or bun tin but I happened to have a mould for making little loaf cakes that I picked up cheaply when they were on offer in a French supermarket so I used that.

Thanks to Susan for reminding me that making them into little oblong cakes effectively turns them into “financiers”, the French name for the friand.  Apparently “financiers” were created in the late nineteenth century in a bakery in the financial hub of Paris.  They were made crumbless and in the shape of a gold bar to appeal to the financiers who frequented the baker’s shop!

friands2 friands3

They are incredibly quick and easy to make and these were lovely and slightly unusual with the hint of cardamom. 

friands4 friands5

I would definitely make them again, especially now that I have my rather expensive French jar of cardamom seeds in stock – it always amazes me that something that might cost very little in the UK can cost such a lot in a French supermarket.  It was the first time I had used cardamom in a cake and it worked really well.

I was also pleased with the loaf cake mould.  The cakes came out clean as a whistle leaving no bits stuck to the mould, which is always a relief. 

randomrecipes So thanks again to Dom of Bellau Kitchen for once more leading me to bake a recipe that I might otherwise have overlooked.  Which is the real purpose of his monthly Random Recipe Challenge I think.

I am also entering these little cakes into this month’s Alphabakes Challenge.  The challenge is hosted this month by Ros (otherwise known as Baking Addict) of The more than occasional baker and alternately by Caroline of Caroline Makes. You can read more about this month’s challenge here.  The letter this month is “A” and with almonds being a major ingredient of the cakes they fulfil the criteria perfectly I think.  Their buttery, almond flavour is the main characteristic of the cakes.


175g unsalted butter

5 egg whites

225g icing sugar

65g plain flour

115g ground almonds

zest of 1 lemon

6 cardamom pods


Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and crush them in a pestle and mortar.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan and use some of it to butter a muffin tin, bun tin or friand tin.  Put the remainder aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy, which should take about 30 seconds.

Sift the icing sugar and flour into the egg whites and fold in.  Stir in the ground almonds, lemon zest and cardamom, followed by the butter.  Combine to make a smooth batter.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin so that each hole is ¾ filled.  Bake for 20 minutes until risen, golden and firm to the touch.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a rack.  Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Makes 8-12 friands, depending on the tin you use.


  1. Call them cardamom financiers rather than friands, and they are completely authentic...

    1. Thanks Susan, I did wonder if that was the case.
      I will amend the post!

  2. you win some and you lose some with Random Recipes and I think you've really won with these incredible mini sponge fingers (we'll call them)... cardamom is one of the quite exotic spices that works so well in sweet things that it so lovely here... lovely stuff... thanks so much for taking part this month xx

  3. I love friands, a recent discovery courtesy of Phil and have made several now - all containing chocolate of course. Yours look wonderful as mini loaves and sound delightful flavoured with lemon and cardamom.

  4. What a lovely post - and what gorgeous friands! Funny, isn't it, to imagine 'financiers' of today being so respected. Most people would prefer to throw cream pies (or worse) at them rather than invent a crumb-less cake so as not to sully their pinstriped suits!
    Thanks for the recipe, it looks like a must-make.

  5. You actually said that they were "Financiers" rather than Friands when you served them.... boy, were they nice...

    The w/v part of robot was untrytm [un-try tim]... not likely!!

  6. I love cardamom but have never thought to use it in a sweet bake. They all look so perfect.

  7. financiers, friands... still looks delicious! I have to get my hands on one of these moulds. thanks for entering AlphaBakes.

  8. These sound lovely - I've never come across friands / financiers before but they sound right up my street. I love almond and also cardamom so I feel I may have to try these out, though in a less traditional shape probably. :-)

  9. I made these the other day. They are terrific. Lemon and cardamom is such a nice Scandinavian combo, one of my faves. I cooked them in those little waxed cardboard mini cake 'tins' you can get in the supermarket now, and they worked brilliantly.