These raspberry and saffron friands are beautiful little cakes that truly look the part but are surprisingly easy to make. They are made using ground almonds, egg whites and brown butter which results in small cakes with a nutty flavour and a light and springy texture.
Also called visitandines in France, they were first made back in the XIXth century by nuns of the Order of the Visitation. A few years later, a baker named Lasne made them popular once again by appealing to his audience. With his bakery near the Bourse, the financial center of Paris, he renamed the little cakes financiers, and made them into rectangles, similar to the shape of gold bars! Now you’ll find them most often in the shape of an oval in French patisseries, but fret not, baking them in a muffin tin works just as well.
In any case, this raspberry friands recipe makes delightful mini cakes that are wonderfully moreish and with the addition of icing on top will make for a stunning addition to your afternoon tea stand.
180g Unsalted Butter, plus an extra 10g, melted, for brushing
6–8 Saffron Strands
60g Plain Flour, plus extra for dusting
200g Icing Sugar
120g Ground Almonds
1/8 tsp Salt
150g Egg Whites, about 4 large eggs
Zest of 1 Small Orange
120g Raspberries, cut in half lengthways
60g Raspberries (about 8), plus 12 extra raspberries to decorate
¾ tbsp Water
1 tsp Lemon Juice
165g Icing Sugar
THE RASPBERRY & SAFFRON FRIANDS
Start by preparing your muffin tins (or friands tins if you have some) by brushing the inside with melted butter and dusting them with flour. Tap your tin upside down to remove any excess flour and set aside in the fridge. Next, preheat your oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/Gas Mark 7.
Add your butter and the saffron strands to a small pan and melt over a medium heat. Now, to get a little more flavour, you can go the extra mile at this stage and take your melted butter to brown butter. Simply continue to cook your butter, mixing from time to time until it starts foaming. Little brown sediments will start to form at the bottom – this is perfectly normal! Continue to cook your butter until it reached a golden brown colour and it smells of roasted nuts. Once it has reached that stage, remove from the heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Then, pass through a sieve and discard the sediments and saffron strands.
Now, in a large bowl sift the flour and the icing sugar in and add the ground almonds and salt. In a small bowl, briefly whisk up the egg whites using a fork, before adding to the dry ingredients. Mix gently using a spoon until well incorporated. Add in the orange zest, followed by the cooled brown butter. Mix until smooth and well incorporated.
TIP – Make sure the butter is at lukewarm temperature, or add it little by little to ensure it won’t cook the eggs!
Take your muffin tin out of the fridge and fill the moulds two-thirds of the way with the friands batter. Add two to three raspberry halves (cut side down) to each friands. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven to 210°C/190°C Fan/Gas Mark 6 and cook for another 8 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool before removing them from the moulds.
TIP – Starting with a high heat and lowering down your oven temperature will ensure that your friands take a nice golden brown colour outside but cook evenly. Don’t forget to turn them halfway through the bake too in order to get an even bake.
THE RASPBERRY ICING
TIP – Make sure that your friands are completely cooled before starting to ice them, otherwise the mixture will just melt!
In a small bowl, place the raspberries with ¾ tablespoon of water and the lemon juice. Mash into a puree using a fork and pass into a sieve. You should get approximately 60ml of juice.
Sift the icing sugar into a medium-sized bowl and add in the raspberry juice. Mix well until fully combined.
To ice your friands, place them over a rack and spoon the raspberry icing over, spreading a little to the sides and letting it drip a little over the sides. Finally, place extra raspberries over the top of your friands to decorate. The icing will take approximately 30 minutes to set.