Mini almond sponge cakes, with the rich flavour of browned butter and the wonderful bedfellows brought by the blackberry and the apple, these friands are a seriously delicious treat. There is something even more special using blackberries picked from the hedgerows and apples straight from the tree!
With blackberries currently all over our garden and the allotment, it is lovely to make something other than a crumble with them! I also made some blackberry sorbet (recipe to follow shortly).
The sponge is quite wonderful: incredibly light and packed with flavour, thanks in no small part to the browned butter, which really is a phenomenal ingredient to use here. There is just enough fruit to give bursts of sweet-sharpness, but without making the sponge gooey.
Browning butter takes minutes to make and it is so easy. The flavour, rich and deeply nutty and truly enhances these cakes.
I did a few blind taste tests with friends, making a batch with normal unsalted butter and a batch with browned butter. The friands made with normal unsalted butter were deemed to be “nice cake” (and were all eaten!), but the friands made with browned butter resulted in comments such as “wow” and “stunning”. And I would agree: the browned butter gives these cakes that extra edgeWhich tins to use?
I use small silicone friand moulds (oval shaped that are an inch or so across), but these work very well in muffin tins, very well buttered. If using larger muffin tins, adjust the cooking time by 5 minutes or so, although it is worth doing a tester with the mixture first if using a different sized tin: the rest of the batter will sit quite happily for ages, so there is no rush.
These sponges are gorgeous without fruit (making them more into the classic financiers), but these cakes work well with many other fruit. Favourites of mine include:
- red currants
Just make sure you don’t pack too much fruit into the mixture as this can make the sponge too soggy.
Recipe: blackberry and apple friands
- 100g unsalted butter (to be browned – see steps 1 -3 below)
- 120g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 40g plain flour
- 60g ground almonds
- 100g egg whites (or the whites from 3 medium eggs)
- 1 small apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- a handful of fresh blackberries
- a little extra icing sugar
You will also need friand moulds or muffin tins, well buttered – see “Which tins to use?”, above
Brown the butter (if you don’t want to use browned butter, skip to step 4)
(1) Put the butter in a small pan and heat on a low heat until it has melted. Slowly bring the butter to the boil, having the heat no higher than medium and let it bubble away for about 5 minutes, whisking from time to time.
NB: the butter will sizzle a lot to begin with, owing to the water in the butter, but as this water evaporates, the sizzling will reduce significantly.
(2) Once the water has evaporated in the butter, it will start to foam and take on colour, and this is the stage to really keep an eye on it. Once it reaches a deep honey colour, remove it from the heat.
(3) Pour the butter into a bowl through a fine sieve or muslin, as you don’t want the residue. Skim off any foam and leave to cool. You can let it and keep refrigerated until you want to use it, at which stage melt it in the microwave.
Make the batter
(4) Preheat the oven to 180C(fan). Sift the icing sugar and flour into a medium bowl. Stir in the almonds.
(5) Whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until they get to the soft peak stage.
(6) Spoon the whisked egg whites onto the dry mixture, and stir in gently. When it has almost all in incorporated, lightly stir in the butter until you have a thick batter.
NB: you don’t need to fold the mixture, just stir it all together. There is enough air in the whisked egg whites to give a very light sponge. Also, if you want an even quicker batter, you can get away with just mix all the ingredients together to form a batter, rather than whisking up the egg whites first, but whisking the egg whites first gives you a lighter sponge.
(7) Spoon the batter into the moulds, coming almost to the top. Pop a blackberry and a couple of pieces of apple on top and push them into the batter: you don’t need to submerge them.
NB: I use small moulds so I can fit in one blackberry and a couple of pieces of apple, but if using larger moulds or muffin tins, pop a few more in. If you have too much batter for the mould, it will wait quite happily fine until the first batch has baked and you have more moulds/tins.
(8) Bake for 10-12 minutes until they are just firm to the touch and have taken on a light golden brown colour. If using silicone moulds, leave them to cool in the moulds before removing. If using metal moulds, leave them in their moulds for 5 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack and leaving them to cool fully.
NB: if using larger moulds or muffin tins, they can take 15-20 minutes.
(9) Dust with icing sugar and enjoy!