BAKE: Raspberry and pistachio friands

Baked treats at Lantana, London

I first came across friands at Lantana, a wonderful Australian café in London’s Fitzrovia, about four years ago. I remember seeing these little round cakes on the bar, next to the banana bread and then-named Hummingbird cakes*, and I asked after them out of curiousity. Friands. They’re little almond meal cakes, the girl behind the counter told me. I got one to go, and I was hooked. The friand’s crisp chewy edges giving way to soft, moist (sorry, I know how many people hate this word) crumb was unlike any other cake I’d had previously, and the addition of tangy raspberries offset the almondy sweetness. As it happened, I discovered that it was the perfect accompaniment to a strong flat white – together, they’ve brightened up many a sleepy afternoon back at the office.

Friands are now a firm part of my baking repertoire, because of how simple yet satisfying they are. Fresh from the oven, they are gorgeously crisp and soft at the same time; after they’ve cooled down, they’re good for a few days I hear. I don’t know, because we usually finish a batch pretty quick. I’ve brought them over to parties, served them at picnics or as post-dinner treats with tea or coffee. They take less than 15 minutes to mix together, then another 15 or so to bake (depending on your mould**). Simples.

 

I’ve experimented with variations – dark cherry, strawberry, blueberries, earl grey and raspberries (my little contribution to Cakes for Japan last year), peaches, matcha and sesame – and this little raspberry and pistachio number remains my absolute favourite. The tartness of the berries is always a winner – strawberries, cherries and peaches were all too sweet – and the addition of buttery pistachios seems to amp up the decadence factor. A sprinkling of the crushed green nuts on top always makes everything look prettier, too.

Rahul, this one is for you. Since you’re always asking for the recipe.

 

RASPBERRY & PISTACHIO FRIANDS
(Makes 32 mini friands, or 16 normal-sized friands) 

Adapted from Basic Friands by Waitrose

INGREDIENTS
185g/6.5oz unsalted butter
25g/1oz shelled pistachios
6 medium egg whites
225g/8oz icing sugar
75g/2.5oz plain flour
100g/3.5oz ground almonds
1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated zest only
32 raspberries

METHOD
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

2. Melt the butter in a small pan over a medium-low heat. Use some of the melted butter to brush the insides of your friand mould and set aside. Allow the remaining butter to cool completely.

3. Place the shelled pistachios into a mini food processor/grinder and pulse until finely ground – I prefer to pulse the nuts until about 80% are finely ground and there are slightly bigger bits that are perfect for sprinkling on top of the friands. Sift the ground pistachios into a small bowl, keeping any remaining bits in the sieve for sprinkling over.

4. Place the egg whites into a mixing bowl and whisk until light and frothy – you don’t need to whisk them up into anything resembling a meringue, this is just to break the whites up a bit.

5. Sift the icing sugar and flour over the egg whites, then scatter over the finely ground pistachios, the ground almonds, and the lemon zest. Pour over the cooled melted butter, then fold everything through until smooth and well combined. You don’t have to worry about overmixing as there are no raising agents in this recipe, and the batter keeps well in the fridge for 1-2 days.

6. Half-fill the buttered friand moulds with the batter, then drop a single raspberry into the middle of each (if using a normal-sized mould, you can add more to each hole). Cover with the remaining batter. Sprinkle over the pistachio bits.

7. Place into the middle rack of the oven and bake for 12-14 minutes (for mini friands) or 20-22 minutes (for normal friands), or until they have risen slightly and are golden-brown around the edges. The centres should spring back when touched. If you’re really anal, you can test with a skewer pierced through the centres.

8. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the moulds for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

9. Eat warm, it’s good that way. Also good served with a dollop of crème fraîche on the side, but I like mine unadulterated. Great with coffee or a fragrant earl grey.

 

UPDATESu-yin has kindly passed on this link for silicone friand tins – and they ship worldwide!

* They’ve since been renamed Crack Cakes. Partly due to the fact that most people assumed that they were somehow a Hummingbird Bakery recipe, and partly because they really are ridiculously addictive.

** I was lucky enough to find a suitable friand-shaped mould at a local catering shop in London, which is made of silicone. I hear proper friand tins are a bit difficult to source outside of Australia, but little muffin moulds should do the job, too. The great thing about the one I have is that it’s also miniature, which makes for absolutely adorable little friands. It also means I can have about twelve in one go, because they’re only little – right? 

 

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