As the longest and hottest summer I have ever known in the Northern Hemisphere stretched through August and into September, then past the first week of October, the chorus of voices wishing away the heat and the long lazy days grew ever-louder. It’s now cold and dreary once again, and dark, so very very dark, at 4pm, where a few short months ago it was light and shimmery past 10 o’clock. The only real upside to cold nights in, frankly, is that it becomes tolerable to bake again, whereas flicking the oven on over the summer was torturous.
People often gravitate towards the rich, heavy, sticky and chocolatey in winter – and why not? – but I think there’s a place for light, refreshing and zesty, too, if only to remind one of summer days past. This trio of petit fours showcases some lovely floral, fruity and sharp flavours that are lovely together, but would work beautifully on their own too.
I decided to make friands (and influence people) because, as usual, I had a large jar of egg whites sitting in the back of the fridge, waiting for their day (I don’t know quite how I manage to acquire so many egg whites, but a recipe which uses up a great quantity is always useful). Coincidentally I picked up a Waitrose recipe card for friands around the same time I was planning my three bakes and have just tweaked the recipe a bit to showcase raspberries – I think the sharpness of raspberries works so well with the richness of butter and ground almonds which are a feature of friands.
I’ve been trying to crack macarons for years, though I have admittedly not applied myself particularly diligently to this task. As usual, the results were pretty inconsistent, although this batch produced better shells than usual and I got a few very pretty, completely perfect macarons out of them for a change. I used this recipe for macarons with honey buttercream, tinting the shells butter yellow with a dab of food colouring paste.
The prettiness of the pistachio rose water madeleines, and the opportunity to use my mini tin, were reason enough to try them out. They were my favourite of the three bakes – the good pinch of salt balanced out the sweetness and mouth-filling floral notes and made them incredibly moreish.
This post is part of my challenge to bake my way through all the challenges of the Great British Bake Off. The challenge below is the signature challenge for week nine (patisserie week) of series three: three types of petit fours – twelve of each
Adapted from a Waitrose recipe card
NB: You will need a 12-hole muffin tin for this recipe – one of those small British fairy cake-sized numbers worked best for me for this (rather than the very deep American-style tins)
- 115g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the tin
- 65g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 100g ground almonds
- 165 icing sugar
- pinch fine salt
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 6 egg whites
- 12 raspberries
- Flaked almonds, for scattering – 50-75g should do it if you want to measure but I just did it by eye
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Prepare the tin. Brush the muffin tin holes with the extra melted butter, then dust with the extra flour, shaking out any excess
- Combine the flour, ground almonds, icing sugar and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites and the almond extract with a fork. Slowly mix the egg whites into the bowl of dry ingredients, mixing them in with the fork as you go. Once combined, add the melted butter and stir it in until just combined.
- Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin holes – I used a batter scoop to do this. Place a raspberry on top in the centre of each friand – there’s no need to push them down as they’ll sink as they bake. Carefully scatter the flaked almonds over the batter around each centred raspberry.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until just golden at the edges (the flaked almonds will also be golden and even lightly browned at the edges). Leave in the tin for 5 minutes before turning them onto a wire rack to cool completely. You may need to run a palette knife around the edges of each friand to ease them out of the tin.
Pistachio and rosewater madeleines
Adapted from Waitrose Kitchen
NB: The recipe makes 24 madeleines – I got 12 normal-sized ones and 24 mini ones (which are the ones pictured) from my silicone mini madeleine tin. If you don’t have madeleine tins, use muffin tins, though you may need to bake them a bit longer and will get fewer cakes out of the mixture. (NB the silicone mini madeleine tin I have is from Lakeland and they no longer make it, but others are available online and through other speciality shops)
- 125g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra, melted, for greasing
- 100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 100g unsalted, shelled pistachios
- 100g caster sugar
- 75g clear honey (I used orange blossom honey)
- ½-1 tsp rosewater (this will depend on both your taste and how strong your rosewater is)
- 4 eggs, two lightly beaten, two separated
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- Good pinch salt
- If using metal tins, brush them carefully with the extra melted butter, making sure every crease in the tin is well-coated. Lightly dust with the extra flour, turn the tins over and knock out any excess flour. If using silicone moulds, they do not need to be prepared in this way.
- In a mini food processor, chop 75g of the pistachios until quite fine – just coarser than the texture of ground almonds, making sure to stop before they get oily. Finely chop the remaining 25g pistachios by hand and set them both aside separately.
- Combine the butter and sugar and beat together using an electric hand mixer until pale, 3-4 minutes. Add the honey and rosewater and mix again to combine. Add the beaten whole eggs and two egg yolks one by one, mixing in well between each addition.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt into the mixing bowl, then add the ground pistachios and fold everything together.
- In a clean bowl, whisk the two egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold a third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen it, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites using a metal spoon. Divide the batter evenly in the tins and scatter over the remaining chopped pistachios. Place in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 170C. Bake for about 12 minutes for full-sized madeleines or 8-10 minutes for mini madeleines (and muffins will likely need 20-25 minutes), or until the cakes are well-risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Turn the madeleines out of the tins onto a wire rack, gently easing them out with a palette knife if necessary (if you’re using silicone moulds, you can just turn them inside out), and let cool.