Blackberry Friands or Cupcakes
I love it when I find a recipe that uses up egg whites!! I always have loads in the freezer from making quiches and mayonnaise, both of which I love. If you don’t have any in the freezer…. try making some mayonnaise… or a quiche.
Last weekend, in the dog-days of the English summer, James and I went blackberrying in the lower hills of the South Downs. I didn’t want very many, it’s mid September and little fingers have picked too many off the bushes already as they walk their dogs along the footpaths, so I knew we’d be too late to get enough for jam; but I had a hankering (maybe it’s being pregnant) to make a blackberry-type cake. We got a small tupperware box, and got blown about on the hill, and I huffed and puffed my bump around the gorse and was happy to get back to the car. Once home I was even happier to get onto the real business of baking.
A couple of weeks ago I’d never heard of a friand. Now they are my new favourite thing. I don’t have a very wide range of sweet things that I make, being not particularly sweet-toothed and believing that sugar is pointless/verging on the harmful as an actual food stuff, but of course like most people I do love cake. The ones I do make I make over and over, and have a tendency to binge eat them in front of The Good Wife or House of Cards or some other brilliant US drama. These friands are going to become part of my regular go-to cakes, I just know, it. I’ll be making them all year round with different flavours.
They didn’t invent them, but I do have my heros Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi to thank for introducing me to them. But stop – is that the Food Police at the door? Maybe, because yet again I’ve messed very slightly with the recipe. It’s a French delicacy with a history of its own, and is very popular in Australia, appaz, so I don’t feel too guilty. Ottolenghi makes them with blackcurrants and puts cinnamon in, which I didn’t really like the first time I made them. I use almond essence and vanilla, and I make them with less sugar, and smaller. For some reason, I like having two (or three) on my plate, instead of one. Can’t think why.
The picture above is actually some painfully expensive supermarket blackberries I used for my first attempt, but the ones we picked in the wild were much smaller, which is actually better for the cake as they don’t take over the entire friand but stud it with flavour like they should.
- 125g butter, melted and cooled a bit.
- 60g plain flour (or gluten-free flour)
- 60g blanched almonds
- 50g unsalted pistachios ( you can leave these out as they’re fiendishly expensive and just use 110g almonds if you prefer)
- 140g caster sugar
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- ¾ tsp almond essence
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 3 egg whites
- pinch salt
- 1 tbs mashed banana (an Ottolenghi master stroke)
- 120g blackberries or small fruit of your choosing, tossed in a heaped tablespoon of plain flour, like my arty pic above.
Preheat the oven, and butter your tin if you’re not using cupcake cases (∗see below). Grind the nuts in a blender or coffee grinder, the don’t have to be like sand, just no discernible chunks. Take away 2 tbsp of the sugar. Mix the nuts with the remaining sugar, plus the flour, melted butter, lemon zest and both the essences. Mix it all up to a mud.
Whip the whites along with the 2 tbsp of sugar and the pinch of salt, until they’re holding soft peaks. Very much easier with an electric whisk, you will be cursing the tedium of life otherwise. Using a large metal spoon, fold a few tablespoons of egg into the nut mixture using light lifting and turning movements. Add a few more spoonfuls and also the blackberries, keeping your hand light and not over-mixing. Fold in the last bits of egg white.
∗You can now either spoon it into cupcake cases, or do what I did which is butter a cupcake tin and then put strips of greaseproof paper in each one so you can lift the cakes out later. They don’t rise very much so you don’t need to worry about over-filling. I made 12 with the amount above.
Bake at 200°, or 180° if your oven is a fan, for about 25 minutes, until they’re golden brown and you can stick a skewer in and it doesn’t come out with mixture stuck to it.
Allow to cool in the tins. Lift out, dust with icing sugar and try to refrain from eating the lot there and then, (you’ll notice I said I made 12, but the eagle-eyed among you will spot there are only 10 in the pic below. Ahem… I think I read that pregnant women are allowed to eat what they like. That’s right, yes?)