Meet my sweet little friend, the Friand. I first discovered friands (free-onds) last spring when I was searching Pinterest for some new baking recipes, and was immediately attracted to their lovely presentation and unique oval shape. I knew that this was a specialty I had to make for Tony and Gio, who are now happily on the friand bandwagon.
Wildly popular in Australia and New Zealand but little known elsewhere, friands are charming almond tea cakes similar to the French financier. I confess, I loved discovering a darling new treat that no one else I knew was making. Even better: In spite of their elegant, refined appearance, friands are surprisingly easy to make and the batter can be prepared up to two days in advance. Seriously, what’s not to love?
I have adapted our recipe from the Australian blog, “What Katie Ate.” While her recipe uses measurements in grams, I’ve converted our version to the American measuring system in case you don’t have a scale to use at home.
Their unusual oval shape makes them the perfect choice for an Easter brunch, but finding the correct pan can be difficult here in the States. After a bit of searching online last year, I found several silicone options available at Amazon.com for under $25. I’ve also used a mini-muffin pan with great results – the friands won’t have their signature oval shape, but they’ll be bite-size darling and just as delicious.
What makes these cakes so special isn’t just their shape. Friands are made with almond flour, which creates a wonderful flavor and texture. Almond flour is easily found in our local grocery stores and can be stored for up to one year in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
The cakes may look like some version of a muffin, but the similarity stops there. Friands have a crispy top with a moist, almost-gooey inside, similar to a Petit Four. They are typically made with egg whites, and this fuss-free recipe only requires you to mix them for a few seconds until they are just combined. I usually count to ten, but (very) recently I felt like mixing them longer, which resulted in all of my berries sinking to the bottom of the cake. Lesson learned – they still tasted great, but weren’t as eye-catching as the ones with fruit on top (see pic below).
Melted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and a small amount of all-purpose flour round out the rest of the ingredients. This past weekend I attempted to make gluten-free friands by using a gluten-free version of all-purpose flour, but the results were less than thrilling. I’ll keep working on this recipe and will post an update on our blog once I’ve found the right balance.
I love the versatility of friands. You can play around with a wide variety of flavors and are limited only by your imagination. Today’s photos feature raspberry, blueberry and vanilla friands, but we’ve also made them with sliced apple, blackberries, strawberries, citrus zest, chopped up chocolate pieces, and even crushed Oreo cookies (a bit of genius from Gio, as they were delicious).
Friands can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days. I’ve read that they freeze well for up to three months, but honestly, I’ll have to take their word for it: ours have never hung around long enough to find out.