After a relaxing, but brief, holiday break… it is time to get back into the routine of everyday life. I had been resisting it at first, wanting to hang onto the last of lazing afternoons and evenings filled with laughter, spontaneity and birdsong. On returning home though, I was especially eager to get back into the kitchen and bake something. And it didn’t take long to settle on financiers.
One of the reasons that I adore French baking is not only due to the plethora of decadent sweet treats, but mostly due to the rich backstories that accompany each of the recipes. Some stories may seem extravagant, improbable and highly unlikely… but some stories are very simple too and are fabulous explanations as to the origins of a recipe.
The history of the financiers falls into the latter. A boulanger based in the financial district of Paris wanted to provide his customers, who were mostly financiers, a little sweet patisserie treat that they could eat on the go sans mess. The boulanger is also said to have deliberately shaped the cakes to represent little ingots of gold… another nod to the customers the treats were aimed at. The financier was thus born.
The financier is traditionally a light, little almond cake, made up of a base of almond meal, a smidgen of flour, vanilla, egg white and a lot of beurre noisette. All the browned butter in the batter gives these little cakes their crisp edges whilst the almond meal and egg white keeps the interior so incredibly moist and light – much like its cousin, the friand.
Here, the classic financier is updated by the addition of tart blackberries and citric notes of lime juice and zest… which adds just that little extra je ne sais quoi. The result being fragrant, fruity and moist little cakes with ample flavour packed into each small mouthful. They’re quite light, not sweet at all and definitely are worth their weight in gold.
Blackberry and Lime Financiers are delicious and surprisingly easy. I deem them perfect enough to be devoured at the breakfast table if baked goods in the morning are more your thing, though I personally prefer mine in the afternoon or nibbles for the late evening… and they are ideal to be accompanied by a strong and milky black tea.
- 120 g / 4 .3 oz. unsalted butter, diced
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. almond meal
- 25 g / 1 oz. plain flour
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. icing sugar, sifted
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
- Zest from one lime
- 4 large egg whites
- 12 to 16 blackberries
- Icing sugar to dust
- Place the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat and cook until the butter has foamed and turned golden brown. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine the almond meal, flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the vanilla extract, lime juice, zest and egg whites and stir well to form a thick paste. Pour in the slightly cooled butter and stir until you have a smooth and uniform batter. Press a sheet of cling film onto the surface of the batter, and then place the batter in a refrigerator to chill, infuse and solidify the butter solids – for at least two hours.
- Pre-heat an oven to 200 C / 390 F and lightly grease and flour your chosen moulds. Spoon the batter halfway into the moulds and punctuate with a few blackberries. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the financiers have started to brown at the edges. Leave to cool in their moulds for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled, dust with icing sugar before serving. The financiers will keep for up to two days stored in an airtight container.