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.