Lemon and poppy seed financiers

lemonPoppyFinanciers3SQUAREIf you’ve read some of my previous posts you know I’ve got a bit of a ‘thing’ about what precisely constitutes a financier… yes, it’s all a bit splitting hairs but if you want to use the ‘correct’ term rather than just labelling them as ‘small cakes’, then the shape and the name go hand in hand.

It seems common now to call any-shape small cake a financier. But, no – or should that be ‘non’!? The clue to the look of these little cakes is in their name – financiers. They should resemble gold ingots and they apparently originated in the bakeries near the Paris financial district, the patissiers making a not-very-difficult leap to selling bankers gold bar-shaped cakes as a marketing novelty.

If you fancy a bit more of an in-depth explanation (or an alternative financier recipe – please see my choc, nut and lime financiers).

I suppose it doesn’t really matter in the end what they look like (starts nervous eye twitch at the thought of being so blasé about nomenclature) – after all, the upshot is that you have something lovely to eat.

Notes

Makes 12

Beurre noisette (butter, warmed to nut-brown in a saucepan) is an essential part to the financier recipe. Very similar to madeleines.

These should be fluffy and light on the inside with a crisp-ish bite to the outside.

I always give my recipes in small amounts, so you may want to double up to make 24. The reasons I do this are twofold: firstly so the amount of sweet baked things we eat is a healthier ratio and secondly so that I can bake a greater number of things more often! (If there’s tons of one cake left, I have no need to bake something else).

No ingot-shaped moulds? Turn them into madeleines in those shell-shaped tins or bake them as friands in a bun tin or other oval/circular moulds.

Equipment

  • Small saucepan
  • Bowl for the batter
  • Smaller bowl
  • Financier moulds or madeleine/bun tins
  • Lemon zest and juicer
  • Piping bag and large round nozzle
  • Pastry brush
  • Balloon whisk or mixer
  • Plastic spatula

Ingredients

  • Butter, unsalted – 100g  plus a little extra for greasing
  • Plain flour – 75g plus a tad extra for dusting
  • Icing sugar – 120g
  • Egg whites, from medium eggs – 4
  • Ground almonds – 25g
  • Lemon – zest and juice of one lemon
  • Poppy seeds – 1 dessert spoon full (about 10g)

Method

  1. Firstly, prepare the moulds thoroughly: melt a little extra butter (not taken from the 100g needed for the cakes) and using your pastry brush, cover the insides of the moulds
  2. Pop the moulds in the freezer for five minutes, take out and brush them again with the butter
  3. Put them back in the freezer while you make the batter
  4. Turn on your oven to 170C fan / 180C conventional
  5. Put the butter in the saucepan over a medium heat – bring the butter up to melting and let it bubble until it browns in colour and just starts to foam (take it off quickly). This is beurre noisette
  6. Tip the beurre noisette into the smaller bowl to hasten the cooling
  7. Lightly whisk the egg whites with the icing sugar – you’re not after meringue – just enough until it starts to go opaque and fluffs up a little
  8. I normally don’t advocate sieving flour (it is usually not needed and a hangover from sieving our weevils!) However, it’s best to sieve for this just to make sure there are no lumps – it’s rare in modern milled flours but occasionally they can occur, especially if your bag of flour has been previous opened). So, sieve the flour into the bowl.
  9. Add in the ground almonds, the lemon zest and juice and the poppy seeds and fold in as best as possible
  10. Gently pour in the buerre noisette and fold until it is all thoroughly incorporated and there are no dry lumps of flour. You need to have a very smooth batter
  11. Bring the moulds out of the freezer and lightly dust with flour – set to one side to hand
  12. Fill the piping bag (with the nozzle in) with the batter and pipe into the moulds. You could spoon it in, but being quite an OCD cook I find this gives me more control on how the batter fills the moulds and is more consistent (that is, it produces financiers that are all pretty much the same)
  13. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes – you want them going just the tiniest bit golden brown round the edges and springy on top
  14. Leave them to cool in their little moulds, then they should ease out with no problems
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