Friands are a winner. They're simple, they're versatile, and most importantly, they use up ingredients that I often have sitting in my cupboard (perfect to avoid making those dreaded trips to the supermarket for that one ingredient that like, nobody has at home). It also helps that they taste ridiculously good. I mean they're French, and they're cake, need I explain more?
They're also just fun to bake - you can experiment with them like crazy. Their light and fluffy sponge can be flavoured with basically anything, within baking reason. Fresh citrus zests work really well, but you could also add in a couple of drops of your favourite essence - try lavender if you're feeling crazy, or almond for something a bit more subtle. They look great topped with all kinds of berries, or you can try peaches, rhubarb, caramelised oranges...or whatever fancy fruit is in season. Figs anyone? Yah.
To make your friands a bit different, you can also use any shaped mould. I've just used a standard muffin tin here, but they also look great in little ovals, or mini loaves (multiply all of the ingredients by 1.5 to make sure you have enough batter for this).
Bonus point - they keep well in an airtight container for 3-4 days, so you can make some and enjoy them for daaaays.
If you still need convincing, the super simple recipe will have you sold. Here goes...
200g unsalted butter
100g plain flour
200g icing sugar, plus extra to decorate
200g ground almonds
zest of 2 lemons
pinch of salt
6 egg whites
Makes 12 friands in a muffin tray
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and lightly grease a muffin tray.
2. Firstly, melt the butter. Then leave aside to cool completely.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and icing sugar by hand. Add in the ground almonds, lemon zest, and salt and mix by hand until all are well combined.
4. Using an electric whisk or mixer, begin to whisk the egg whites on a low speed. As they form bubbles, gradually increase the speed to medium, and then high, whisking until they form stiff peaks. Be careful not to over whisk them (you'll know when this has happened as it'll look like cotton wool).
5. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and scoop the whisked egg whites into it. Fold them in gently.
6. Pour in the cooled butter and stir lightly until fully combined.
7. Divide the batter equally between the muffin holes, and press two raspberries into the top of each. Sprinkle over some flaked almonds, and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar, and serve!