Orange & Raspberry Friands. Light, buttery cakes with a French and Australasian history, made with ground almonds and egg whites. Can be made either gluten free or with wheat flour. Optional dairy free.
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Friands – Posh cupcakes or something different?
Let me introduce you to Friands. Light, buttery little cakes, enriched with nuts and often baked with decorative fresh fruit. They look like posh cupcakes. Indeed, I have seen them described as such on other websites… But trust me. These are not cupcakes. Their texture and flavour is altogether different.
Made with lightly whipped egg whites rather than whole eggs, the sponge is much paler in colour and fluffier too. The egg whites give them their magic fairy-like lift… you’ll find no baking powder in these!
Because they are baked with a combination of flour and ground almonds, the crumb is also rich with nuttiness both by flavour and texture. The nuts, along with butter add moisture and decadence and they use powdered icing sugar in place of the usual granular stuff too.
So, if you have never made or eaten friands take note… They are not cupcakes, but are a wonderful alternative… and absolutely delicious.
A little bit of Friands history…
The modern Friands recipe is popular in Australia and New Zealand. However it has its origins far from the southern hemisphere.
According to an article I found over at Little Berries & Co, Friands started their incarnations as ‘Visitandines’, way back in 17th Century France. Originally created by Nuns from the Visitation Order living in the Lorraine region, the recipe was allegedly developed to use up egg whites which were left over after the yoks had been used in painting. At that time, they were baked into oval-shaped moulds.
Later, at the end of the 19th Century, they were reinvented as the more commonly known French Financiers, by a pastry chef called Mr Lasne in Paris. Changing their shape into little bars (like mini loaves), they were also baked using a beurre noisette (brown butter) which gave them a darker, golden colour.
Whilst Financiers are still common in the patisseries of France, I cannot find anything that explains how they reached Australasia. Or indeed, how they morphed back to using uncooked butter and reverting to the original oval shape. But who cares? They are divine anyway…
Does shape matter?
Traditional Friands are baked in oval moulds. Whilst shape probably doesn’t affect flavour or texture, there is something quite lovable about their ovalness, don’t you think?
The first time I ever made Friands, was in a bog-standard muffin tin. They were delicious, don’t get me wrong… but somehow, I felt that I was doing them an injustice. Normally I would talk myself out of being such a ‘food snob’, but the shape started to bug me.
Knowing I would make them again, I gave in to my inner pedant and bought myself a Friand tin. If you want one too, click on the link. It’s been a fun (if perhaps a frivolous) little buy.
Did they taste any different? Probably not in reality. But the psychology in my little head keeps telling me otherwise.
Are Friands naturally gluten free?
The recipe shared here for Orange and Raspberry Friands is most definitely gluten free. Although naturally not the case, the amount of flour used for a Friand recipe is such a small part of what goes into them, it is easy to substitute weight for weight with little impact. If you can eat wheat, just use bog-standard plain flour.
Alongside ground almonds which are used in the recipe, I used the home-mixed gluten free flour blend A, which you will find at the bottom of the Gluten Free Flours and Flour Blending page. However, if you have other supermarket bought blends, they should work fine.
Perfect for using up left over egg whites
Making raspberry Friands is a fantastic way to use up left over egg whites. Quicker and a little less sweet than the obvious options of meringues or Pavlova, they exude being special without being complicated.
It’s always good to have a few egg-white options up the sleeve. I’m never quite sure where all the egg whites come from (especially since the painting with egg-yolk days are long gone), but they always seem to be lurking in the fridge.
If you need egg-white inspiration, we have lots of other yummy (non-meringue) options at Gluten Free Alchemist. Some of my favourites include Chocolate-Espresso Puddle Cookies; deliciously almondy Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies; a choice of three Nutty Cookie Mounds and Marshmallows. There’s also a lovely recipe for traditional sticky white Angel Cake which takes me straight back to childhood; a Zesty Lemon-Meringue Roulade; and some Raspberry & White Chocolate Macaron too. Or how about home-made flavoured Marzipans? Or even Pistachio ‘Macaroons’; irresistible Nutella Thumbprint Cookies; or Ful-Sudani (Sudanese Peanut Macaroons)?
With so many tempting options, thank goodness for left-over egg whites!
Do you flavour Friands?
The recipe that I have posted here is for Orange and Raspberry Friands. They are flavoured with tangy orange zest and orange extract and beautiful red, tart raspberries which complement the sweetness of the sponge perfectly.
The edges are crisp and sweet, but inside, the sponge is moist and heavenly, fresh-flavoured and light, but textured with a slight coarseness from the almonds.
When the oven door was opened, the aroma was intoxicating with the citrus freshness of the orange. And the raspberries looked so inviting nestling in the sponge, which was sprinkled with a dusting of icing sugar.
But Friands are versatile and can be flavoured in any number of ways… Try swapping out the ground almonds for ground hazelnuts, walnuts or pistachios. Vary the fruit or use different extracts. Sub a little coconut for a part-portion of the nuts. Or even head down the chocolate route.
Will you make Friands too?
So there you have it… A little history and some other chat. But have I convinced you to make Friands, with or without a Friand tin? I hope so, because they are totally delicious and (I say again) nothing like a cupcake.
If you do make them, I so want to know about how you got on. Leave a comment, or let me know through one of my social media channels… Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest are my favourite hangouts…
Orange & Raspberry Friands
- 12-hole muffin or Friand tin
- Kitchen scales
- measuring spoons
- Mixing bowls
- zester/fine grater
- whisk (hand or electric)
- mixing spoon/spatula
- jug or ice cream scoop (optional)
- cake skewer
- wire rack
- 130 g ground almonds
- 50 g gluten free (or wheat) plain flour Gluten Free Alchemist mix A – see NOTES
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- 190 g icing sugar
- 1 orange zest finely zested
- 5 large egg whites (approx 200g total weight) UK large size
- 160 g unsalted butter (or dairy free alternative) melted and cooled slightly
- 1½ tsp orange extract
- 125 g fresh or frozen raspberries
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 and prepare a 12 hole muffin tin (or Friand tin if you have one) by lightly greasing if it is not non-stick.
- Weigh and mix the almonds, flour, xanthan gum, icing sugar and orange zest in a large bowl, making sure any lumps are broken down.
- In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites until they have become a light, frothy foam.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the melted butter, orange extract and whisked egg whites. Gently fold to combine completely.
- Spoon/pour the mixture into the moulds (about two-thirds full) – it may help to use an ice cream scoop or small ladle to reduce any mess.
- Place 2 to 3 raspberries on the top of each Friand (depending on the size of your moulds), gently pushing into the batter so that they are partly submerged.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the Friands are golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Leave in the tin for about 5 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. If any of the Friands have stuck, gently ease the tip of a small silicone spatula or knife round the edge to release.
- Dust with icing sugar to serve.
Looking to be inspired to cook and bake gluten free? We have over 400 recipes on Gluten Free Alchemist. Why not explore our Gluten Free Recipe Book Index to get you started?