Blackberry season is upon us and I went blackberry picking outside my workplace. I feel quite blessed to have my office located in middle of a country park which are home to many wild berries and pine trees. Although I had to ignore lot of funny looks form the people in queue for the bus (taking us back home or into the main town). I was rewarded with a massive bag full of wild blackberry, petite and full of flavour; who is the loser now ? Surely not me because I braved those spikey thorny bushes to get those gorgeous tasty jewels into my plastic bag. Once I overcome my fear of something jumping at me from those bushes – I then started to become more and more confident stepping further into the wild. I went home and decided to bake with them and wanted to make something other than just a crumble. I was flipping through BBC Good Food magazine and saw this recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh from their new book, Sweet. I already had pre-ordered it but could not wait till then to bake these, so I used the magazine recipe to try these Blackberry and star anise friands. I love baking with spices and I love experimenting so this book is a dream come true for a caking enthusiast like me.
Friands are very similar to petit fours or Financiers. They are mostly baked with very less flour and more nut flours making them low on gluten level which I personally like. These remain good for 3-4 days in a airtight container, usually they don’t last that long in our house but if they do in your house then wack them in the microwave for 20 seconds to regain their original pillowy soft texture. I used a friand mould I found on Amazon because I simply love the shape and also because of the fact that I am a restless and slightly crazy baking lady. You could use any muffin or mini muffin tin you have at home, they will turn out just as fine.
- 180g unsalted butter, plus an extra 10g, melted for brushing
- 60g all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 200g icing sugar
- 120g ground almonds
- 1.5 tsp ground star anise(or 3 whole star anise, blitzed in spice grinder and passed through a fine-mesh sieve)
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 150g egg whites (approx from 4-5 large eggs)
- 1 tsp finely grated zest of 1 small orange
- 24 whole blackberries(wild blackberries as they are small in size)
- Preheat the oven to 220 deg C Fan/ Gas Mark 7. Brush the 12 holes of a regular muffin tin with the melted butter and sprinkle all over with flour. Tap the tray gently to ensure an even coating of the flour, then turn upside down to remove the excess Place in the fridge to chill while you make the batter
- To brown the butter, place in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until melted. Continue to cook until the butter is foaming, gently swirling the pan from time to time, to allow the solids to brown more evenly. You will see dark brown sediments begin to form on the sides and bottom of the pan. Continue to allow the butter to bubble away until it turns a rich golden brown and smells of toasted nuts and caramel. Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes, to allow the burnt solids to collect at the bottom of the pan. Strain through a fine-mesh(or muslin-lined) sieve, discarding the solids. Allow the browned butter to cool slightly before using. It should still be warm when folding into the mix later: it is too hot, it will cook the egg whites; if it is too cool, it will be difficult to incorporate into the mix.
- While the butter is cooling, sift the flour, icing dugar, ground almonds, star anise and salt into a bowl. Place the egg whites in a small bowl and use a whisk or fork to froth them up for a few seconds - you do not need to whisk them completely. Pour the egg whites into the sifted dry ingredients and stir until they are incorporated. Add the orange zest and browned butter and mix until the batter is smooth.
- Remove the muffin tin from the fridge and fill the moulds just over two-thirds of the way up the sides. Place two whole blackberries on top (just use one if blackberry is big) and bake for 10 minutes.
- Reduce the temperature to 210 deg C Fan/ Gas Mark 6 - starting with a high oven temperature and then bringing it down is the way to achieve the lovely brown crust you want - turn the tray around in the oven for even cooking, and continue to cook for another 8 minutes, until the edges of the friands are golden brown and the centres have a slight peak and spring back when gently prodded.
- Set aside to cool before removing them from their moulds,: you might need to use a small knife or skewer to help you release the sides, but I did not need to do this; just a gentle tap worked in my case.