• Rhubarb and Custard Friands

A Frenzy of Friands

I am a little obsessive.  It’s better the older and more chilled out I get (please don’t laugh those who know me – yes, this *is* me chilled).  When I love something or find myself feeling passionately about something, I go hammer and tongs at it and emmerse myself in the subject until I reach satiety point.  Some obsessions are currently no where near done.  Discovering and sharing delicious new bakes is one prime example, I hope you are happy to hear.  So back in May of 2013 when the lovely Thanh blogged her lemon drizzle friand recipe and I made my first batch, I just knew a love affair had begun and I would not surface for air for some time.  I’ve made this recipe so many times already that I know it by heart and Hungry Hubby is 100% smitten too.  In fact, they are one of those bakes that everyone I’ve made them for snaffles them up and proclaims they can’t believe how wonderful such a simple little cake can be.  I encourage you all to try them.  They are a ray of sunshine to look at and a delight to eat – chewy, sweet, melting on the tongue divinity.  It took me 9 months of yet again, obsessive behaviour, to finally locate a friand pan for sale on eBay and finally I was happy.

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These elegant ovals of egg white, ground almonds, a little flour and whichever flavours you fancy are just so wonderful.  I think the cupcake has long ago had it’s hey day and long for the friand, a gift from bakers Down Under to take it’s turn in the limelight.  Ever since my first try of Thanh’s lemon ones, I knew I wanted to experiment.  Googling friend recipes comes up with surprisingly few variations on the friand theme.  My cook books only held a couple of ideas (Jo Wheatley has a few ideas in both of her books – you can read about both books in my reviews here and here).  So I read as much as I could and came up with my own recipes which I am about to share with you here.  As I am completely unable to make a decision unless the consequences literally are life threatening, I could not pick between my two favourite ideas and took advantage of going away on my best friend Moo’s Hen Do to trial both.  Alas, I was half way down the M1 before I realised I had left her half of the recipe on my kitchen table so Hungry Hubby had to take them to work, along with the half I had made to leave with him whilst I was away for 5 days.  Apologies Moo Moo!  Hungry Hubby’s colleagues said they were real winners!

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Enter Mr Rhubarb.  Moo loves the stuff and is partial to a bit of custard too so a rhubarb custard friend was born.  It took some time to source some flamingo pink, firm, crisp stalks of the vegetable masquerading as a fruit indigenous to my new locality (ever heard of The Rhubarb Triangle?) but I found these two beautiful stalks and simply cut them into pretty lozenge shapes and roasted, sprinkled in vanilla sugar.  I wanted them to keep their shape and all of that pink.

Hungry Hubby however can’t stand the stuff so I knew he wouldn’t thank me for half a batch of the above so instead, I went back to his old favourite BFG flavour combo – dark chocolate and black cherries.  Read about how I made him a big fat pan of brownies and a big fat BFG here and here for birthdays gone by.

Now I am going to give you the recipes separately for 6 of each type of friand.  I was quite happy to work with both mixes at once but understand not everyone wants their baking to challenge their maths skills whilst you whisk, beat and stir!  They are both easy recipes but the rhubarb one has a couple of processes to do to prepare the veg and the filling first so takes longer.  A word on choice of tin.  Friands work beautifully in Lakeland’s mini Victoria sponge tin if you have one of those, if not, your bog standard muffin pan is the way to go.  Metal friand pans are extraordinarily elusive in the UK and to date, I believe the eBay seller I’ve linked to above and also Jane Asher’s website are the only two places you can purchase them here.  I will forever kick myself not buying a couple several years ago in TK Maxx before I knew how wonderful these little cakes are when I saw them!  The only thing you need to do is grease your chosen tin very well before using, although a light spray of my rapeseed aerosol spray meant they release beautifully with no sticking in whichever tin I’ve used and I’ve used them all.

Rhubarb and Custard Friands

First up, the rhubarb ones.  I have to thank my foodie friend Ann for the tip on freeing spoonfuls of custard to bake into cupcakes etc so to keep the middle molten and creamy.  Genius idea!  And it really works so big thank you Ann!

 

Rhubarb & Custard Friands
Print
Rhubarb & Custard Friands
Easily doubled to make 12.
Servings: 6
Author: Just Jo
Ingredients
  • 60 g ground almonds
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp custard powder
  • 125 g icing sugar
  • 90 g melted butter
  • 3 medium egg whites whisked only until frothy
  • 1 stalk of rhubarb with vanilla sugar to sprinkle
For the Creme Patisserie
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp plain flour (can substitute this for custard powder)
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 175 ml semi-skimmed or full fat milk
  • Icing sugar to finish
Instructions
  1. Firstly make your creme pat – simply heat the milk with the vanilla pod in (scrape out the seeds first and add to the milk). When just about to boil, pour onto the egg yolks, sugar and flour which you have whisked together briefly. When combined, return to the pan and whisk constantly over the heat until thickened. Pour into a wide dish to hasten cooling and cover the surface directly with cling film and leave until room temp. When cooled fully, spoon out generous teaspoons onto some waxed paper or greased foil sat on a freezer safe plate and freeze for 2-3 hours until solid. 

  2. Next, roast one long stalk of rhubarb cut into lozenges (or diamonds) tossed with a light coating of caster sugar (about 1 heaped tbsp) at 180°C for 30- 40 minutes. Don’t move them about or add any liquid as they will turn into a mush. When cool, chose 6 pieces to top the cakes with and chop the rest finely.

  3. Grease your chosen tin well (you may get 8 friands if you use a muffin pan). Preheat the oven to 180° C.
  4. Now sift or whisk together the ground almonds, custard powder, flour and icing sugar.
  5. Stir in the chopped cooked rhubarb, whisked egg whites and when just about incorporated, stir in the butter. Ensure there are no lumps of flour remaining.
  6. Spoon 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared tin. Top with a spoonful of frozen creme pat. Spoon over the remaining mixture and top with a lozenge of rhubarb.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the centre of the oven until risen and the cakes spring back to the touch.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling fully on the rack. You can paint them with some of the juice from the roasted rhubarb or sift over some icing sugar.

Next up, the much quicker to make chocolate cherry friands.

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Rhubarb and Custard Friands
Print
Chocolate Cherry Friands
Easily doubled to make 12.
Servings: 6
Author: Just Jo
Ingredients
  • 60 g ground almonds
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 125 g icing sugar
  • 50 g fresh cherries stoned and chopped
  • 25 g dark chocolate chopped
  • 90 g melted butter
  • 3 medium egg whites whisked only until frothy
  • More cocoa powder to dust with to finish
Instructions
  1. Grease your chosen tin well (you may get 8 friands if you use a muffin pan). Preheat the oven to 180° C.
  2. Now sift or whisk together the ground almonds, cocoa powder, flour and icing sugar.
  3. Stir in the chopped chocolate and cherries, whisked egg whites and when just about incorporated, stir in the butter. Ensure there are no lumps of flour remaining.
  4. Scoop equally into the prepared tin – I use a medium sized ice cream scoop like for muffins or cupcakes.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the centre of the oven until risen and the cakes spring back to the touch.
  6. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling fully on the rack. Dust with cocoa to serve.

So in conclusion, if you do make both flavours at once, all I would say is get two big bowls out and enjoy the production line!  I’m not the sort of baker who worries about a few grams extra in one bowl compared to the other so I prepped most of the batter in one before dividing by eye in half.  Obviously you would only mix up the ground almonds, flour and icing sugar in one bowl then add the specific ingredients to the separate bowls.  If that sets your heart a flutter with OCD anxiety, please just measure out separately and don’t stress!  The maths are easy to figure out.  And do note – I often use 5 large egg whites in place of 6 medium when making a full batch of 12 friands.  The world didn’t end.  The friands were still fabulous 😉

I hope you enjoy these recipes if you too are relatively new to the magic of the friand.  I have a heap more ideas for even more recipes – watch out cupcakes, the friands are coming to steal your buttercream crown 😉

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