The friand (free-OHNd) is one of the triumphs of Australian cafe culture. These little, oval, almondy cakes are so good, so delicate, so French-tasting, and yet (while they have developed from the French financier, apparently) they are much better known in the Antipodes. And despite his notorious lack of sweet-tooth, they are a cake that Paul actually likes.
The downside to the friand, if there is one, is that they take 6 eggwhites. So if you've been on a custard binge, or made mayonnaise for a boat-load of lobsters (or you've been quietly stashing single eggwhites in the freezer for 3 months), I urge you to give them a go.
You mostly get plain friands in Australia, or with a few blueberries and raspberries scattered through. I usually follow a brilliant Luke Mangan blueberry friand recipe but I decided to go with some slightly more seasonal flavours and bring pears, ginger and some walnuts to the party. I also beefed up the caramellyness with a bit of dark muscovado sugar subbed in for some of the icing sugar. And they were ace.
Pear, Ginger & Walnut Friands
75g plain flour
200g icing sugar
40g dark muscovado sugar
100g ground almonds
25g walnuts, ground/chopped quite finely but with some slightly chunkier bits
1 knob stem ginger
160g melted butter
2 halves tinned pear in juice (or a leftover poached pear if you happen to have one)
12 extra walnut halves (pretty ones to garnish)
Preheat oven to 210C. Grease friand (or muffin) tins.
Sift the flour and sugars into a bowl. Add the ground almonds and walnuts.
Lightly beat the eggwhites until they are white and frothy. Stir them into the dry mixture along with the melted butter. Fold in the finely chopped stem ginger and diced pear halves.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins, coming up about 2/3 of the way. Top each with a pretty walnut half. Bake 15 minutes at 210C, then reduce heat to 200 and bake a further 10 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.
These are moist and delicious as they are - this is no time to fuck around with whipped cream or fruit sauces or complementary-flavoured sorbets. A cup of tea or coffee for morning tea, or a little glass of dessert wine at the end of a meal are all that you will want.