I have never tasted friands/financiers until my stay in Sydney. These tea cakes are so ubiquitous that they are virtually at every cafe in the city; they come in different shapes and sizes, sometimes they have an addition of chocolate chips or mixed berries.
After trying it, I went to do my own research on the origin of financiers/friands. Financiers originated from France and its name came about because the traditional ones are shaped like gold ingots since it became popularised by a cafe along the financial district in Paris. The term ‘friands’ is used more popular in Australia.
I’m glad that I got to try them because they have since become one of my favourite tea-time snacks. They are soft, moist cakes with an exceptional nutty flavour from the beurre noissette. Beurre noisette is a French term for hazelnut butter literally. To get beurre noisette, you simply cook the butter over heat until golden brown. This gives a nutty flavour to the butter.
This time, instead of making the usual financier, I decided to play around with the flavours. It was a strange morning when I woke up with the images of lavender and blueberries in my mind and I thought that image was both pretty and soothing.
I was initially apprehensive about the two flavours working together. It was only after making a batch of these that I went to google ‘lavender + blueberry’; there I was pleasantly surprised to find over 4 million results that matched my search terms!
Have I been missing out on something for too long?
I think the key of making this combination work is to ensure that the strong flavour of lavender does not overpower the other flavours – in this case the nutty flavours from the beurre noisette and the pocketful of juicy, berry flavours of the blueberries.
With these lavender and blueberry friands, I’m inspired to have a tea gathering with an English high tea inspired spread. Think: honey madeleines, salmon, cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, some scones with jam and clotted cream. All served on dainty and pretty china with a good pot of earl grey.
It does sound like a pretty sight, doesn’t it?
Recipe: Lavender and blueberry friands (financiers)
Makes 6 rectangular ones (the ones I make are rather big)
Friands/financiers are mini French cakes. The original flavour of friands is nutty from the buerre noisette and it has great texture because of the high proportion of ground almond used. The addition of dried lavender lends the friands more character with a hint of floral flavour and the biting into the blueberries gives way to moist, plump berry goodness.
115g egg whites, room temperature
130g caster sugar
55g plain flour
85g ground almonds
80g unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 tsp dried lavender for culinary use
70g fresh blueberries
pinch of salt
1. Prepare beurre noisette: Place the cubed butter and dried lavender into a small pot. Place on a stove with medium fire. Heat the butter and swirl the pot occasionally. The butter will start to melt before the the milk solids (white) start browning. The butter will have a golden brown colour. Set aside to cool, allowing the lavender flavour to infuse while you prepare your other ingredients.
2. In a bowl, place sugar, flour and ground almond, salt together. Whisk the dry ingredients a little. Add in the beurre noisette (including the brown sediments and dried lavender).
3. Add in the egg whites slowly while whisking till incorporated. You do not need to create too much volume in the egg whites. Add in the fresh blueberries to the batter and fold through.
4. Spoon the batter into your moulds (I used rectangular silicon moulds), if you are using aluminium moulds, do grease your moulds with melted butter to ensure that the friands do not stick after baking. Bake in a preheated 190 degrees celcius oven and bake for 15- 18 minutes (depending on the size of the friands), or until golden-brown and it springs back slightly to touch.
5. Allow them to cool to room temperature before serving. You can dust them with some icing sugar if you are serving them to friends for tea!