Sunday, 22 January 2012

Baking Sunday: Orange and Poppyseed Friands

As I've mentioned, I'm going through a mild mini-cakes obsession at the moment and one of my favourites to make is friands.  I've written about friands before with some different flavour combinations but I didn't mention their texture.  They have a firm texture whilst still retaining a tender crumb and as they're made with ground almonds they have a slight grainy bite to them.  It's quite fun to come up with new flavour and texture combinations and these orange and poppyseed friands are a classic combination. The orange syrup cuts through any richness in the cake and the poppyseeds and a satisfying crunch - they're delectable!  I also have a super tasty fig and walnut version, which is written after the main recipe.  

Another great thing about their texture is that they hold a shape well.  The ones pictured above were made in a rose silicon mould which I'd nearly written off as they destroyed nearly everything I'd made in them, with half of the mix still clinging onto the rose petals - I nearly jumped for joy when the whole batch of friands came out perfectly from the pan!  These buttery teacakes seem to be gaining popularity here in the UK so I'm hoping to see more of them in future.

Orange and Poppyseed Friands
(makes 10)

180g of butter plus extra for greasing tins
75g plain flour, sifted
185g icing sugar
Zest from 3 oranges
150g ground almonds
3 tbsp of poppy seeds
5 egg whites
For the Syrup:
Juice from the 3 oranges
110g caster sugar
1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.

2. Lightly butter 10 friand tins. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes until golden brown, taking care not to burn it. Cool slightly.
4. Whisk the flour, icing sugar, orange zest, almond meal and poppy seeds together in a mixing bowl.
5. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add whites to the dry ingredients along with the butter. Whisk gently until just combined.
6. Spoon batter into the tins. Bake until golden brown. Depending on the side of the tins, this may take from 10-15 minutes so keep an eye on the oven.
7. Allow to cool in the tin 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool further.
8. Whilst they are in the oven, make the syrup.  Combine the caster sugar and orange juice (up to 185ml) in a small saucepan.  Stir over a low heat until dissolved.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for ten minutes or until syrupy. 
9. Drizzle friands with syrup and allow to cool before eating. 

Friands without the syrup will keep in an airtight container for up to four days. 

Variation: Fig & Walnut Friands
Omit the zest and poppyseeds from the recipe, instead add 4 dried figs (sliced finely), 125g chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon of orange juice and 2 teaspoons of orange zest in Step 4.  Top each friand with a thin slice of fig before baking.  Instead of drizzling with syrup, lightly dust with icing sugar. 

Saturday, 21 January 2012

This is no time for any diet resolutions...

It's a new year!  The holiday season just seemed to fly past and all of a sudden it's the middle of January.  How did that happen?  I've still been busy baking and if you follow the Edinburgh Eats twitter, you may have noticed a lot of petit four photos I've posted up, which are also on the Edinburgh Eats Flickr.  Well it's not just because I'm mad for the mini-cakes (although obviously that's true as well!).  I'm working on something quite exciting at the moment which I'm crossing all fingers will come together - a pop-up afternoon tea party right here in Edinburgh!  These afternoon teas will have a proper vintage feel with just the right amount of kitsch.   They're all going to be themed and will have cakes made accordingly - think Alice in Wonderland tarts with red rose petal jam, Spring Flowers themed violet cupcakes and lavender macarons.  Think sophisticated tea party in the parlour of an eccentric old auntie who likes to keep your drinks topped up.  I am really excited to be a part of this and will hopefully have more information to share about it very soon.

In the meantime, I should mention that I wrote some guest blog posts over the holidays, one for Total Food Geeks whose theme was "From The Tree" - here's a recipe for some shiny apple cupcakes.  I wanted to make them look like they'd just been ripely plucked from the tree!

Another guest post was  for Learning From Sophie's Christmas Party with a recipe for florentines.  They are associated with Christmas but really should be eaten any time - they are super easy to make!

Right now, I'm on a weekend break in Kinross, staying at the rather lovely Green Hotel as part of a really good deal and it's so beautiful here and totally relaxing.  We had some especially good grub at their Basil restaurant last night (all part of the deal) but that's all for another blog post...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Baking Sunday: Frou Frou Cupcakes

I remember first seeing these frou frou cupcakes at Peyton and Byrne in London. P&B are known for their huge towering swirls of icing but these were something else - the biggest swirl covered with snow white coconut flakes and topped with a raspberry, they definitely lived up to their name. They looked beautiful, uber-glam and over the top and I knew I had to try them. Consisting of a coconut and raspberry sponge, cream cheese icing and that beautiful coconut and fresh raspberry topping, it matches up delicious fresh flavours and textures with a super pretty finish and is one of my favourites to make when I'm feeling a bit girly and want something outrageously lovely. You have to be a pretty big icing fan to enjoy these as you need a relatively high swirl of icing to cover in the coconut flakes however the coconut raspberry sponges are pretty tasty just by themselves. If you don't have raspberries available, 2 tablespoons of jam make a good substitute and still add a nice flavour. 

Raspberry & coconut cupcakes

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
220g caster sugar
3 eggs
75g plain flour
35g self raising flour
40g desicated coconut
80ml sour cream
150g raspberries


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C for fan ovens and line a 12 hole tray with paper cases.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time on a lower speed. If the mix starts to curdle you can add a little of the flour to correct it.
3. Stir in the flours, coconut and sour cream and ensure all the ingredients are well combined. Carefully fold in the raspberries. 
4. Spoon into the paper cases until two thirds full. Try and make sure there's a few raspberries in each case and smooth the tops.
5. Bake large cupcakes about 30 minutes, small cakes about 20 minutes. Turn cakes onto wire rack to cool.

In the meantime, make the cream cheese icing...

Cream cheese icing

60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120g cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tsp coconut essence
480g icing sugar
Method: Beat butter, cream cheese and essence in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, gradually beat in sifted icing sugar. You need a relatively firm consistency for the icing so chill in the fridge whilst waiting for the cakes to cool.

To decorate:

100g flaked coconut (I picked up a large bag fairly cheaply from Real Foods)
Fresh raspberries

Put icing into a piping bag with a large plain or star tip and pipe a large swirl onto each cupcake. Roll or pat the coconut onto the icing and then top with a raspberry or two. Gaze in wonder at how lovely they look! You can also remove the paper case and spread the entire cake in icing and then roll the sides in the flaked coconut and top with raspberries. You'd need to eat this straight away but I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem!