But even more gentle than a fairy cake is its French relation the Friand. Light as air and perfect for afternoon tea. They are tiny morsels of delicate sponge with a fruit middle usually a berry. And you can use any small fruit – blueberries, raspberries, redcurrants…dependent on the size of your cakes (though I personally prefer them tiny) you can even use strawberries or gooseberries. What matters most is that as you bite into them you get a burst of fruitiness.
Even better is that they are really easy to make. You don’t even need paper cases to put them in. Nor is there any need to faff about getting your butter to room temperature. You don’t even need fresh fruit as frozen works brilliantly.
So really you have got no excuse. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and let’s get cracking!
• 170g unsalted butter
• 225g Icing sugar
• 100g plain flour
• 125g ground almonds
• 6 egg whites (if you don’t fancy buying a whole box, try Two Chicks egg whites and save the rest for meringues!)
• 24 small frozen berries (your choice – I think they work beautifully with blueberries and raspberries)
• Two mixing bowls
• A mini cake or muffin tray with capacity for 24
• A small pan
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and lightly grease the cake tins with butter
- Gently melt your butter* until it is liquid and then set aside to cool a little for two or three minutes
- Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl
- Put the egg whites into another clean bowl and whisk lightly with a fork for 20 – 30 seconds until just combined
- Make a well on the bowl with the sugar and flour and pour in the butter and the eggs
- Stir together lightly (taking care not to overdo it). Keep the mix elastic and gloopy.
- Spoon the mix into the cake tins filling each cup about three quarters full
- Quickly pop a berry into the centre of each cup (while they are still frozen) At this stage you can sprinkle on a few ground nuts if you wish, hazelnuts or almonds go well and pistachios give a beautiful colour
- Put the trays into the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes (they are ready when the friands are pale, lightly golden and springy to the touch)
- Remove from the oven and leave in the tins to cool for about five minutes then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool.
- Lightly dust with icing sugar, put the kettle on and enjoy!