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”.
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!
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.
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.