Small French pastries – almond friands can be called cousins of financiers: both are made of ground almonds and egg whites. The only difference in terms of ingredients is brown butter (beurre noisette), which is used for financiers, but not friands. Also you can get more creative when baking friands and add some extra ingredients such as blueberries, raspberries, lemon or orange zest, poppy seed, crushed pistachios and the like. Having tried all sorts of variations while living in Australia (for some unknown reason they are extremely popular in that country and can be found in just about every respectable coffee shop) I still prefer plain and simple almond friand with a few shaved almonds sprinkled on the top.
Despite their European origin these pastries are pretty hard to find here. To be honest, I don’t remember seeing them in any bakeries when travelling in France (and I visited a few during my short stay hunting around for perfect macarons). I got overly excited when I finally spotted them in one Aussie café in London, but it wasn’t even half as good as it can get. What makes a perfect friand is obviously its freshness (it gets stale after a day and my sensitive palate can pick it up instantly) and nice moist texture due to a fair amount of butter used.
It’s been a few years since the last time I baked almond friands (which was in fact my first time too) and I finally got around to make them again. It is a pretty easy thing to bake and requires up to an hour of preparation and cooking.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Whisk egg whites lightly until combined, but don’t try to make firm foam. Add melted butter, ground almonds, sugar and flour. Stir everything together until you have a thickish batter.
Traditionally friands are baked in oval molds, but a standard muffin tin can be used and that’s exactly what I did. Just don’t fill the tins with batter too much, because it tends to rise a fair bit, filling 2/3 worked just fine for me.
Cook in the oven until risen and golden brown. Most of the recipes I found said cooking time should be 15-20 minutes and it could be the case for the standard size friands, but it took me around 35min for my muffin sized big boys, so just keep an eye on what’s happening in the oven and follow your baking instinct. Leave the pastries in the mold for a few minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack.
And here they are – 6 beauties produced way past midnight and getting ready for tomorrows’ coffee time.
blog comments powered by Disqus