Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Orange Poppy Seed Financiers


For once, financiers I would like to talk about! Trust me, I wouldn't even mention yawn-inspiring folks in dreary grey business suits, but I must when the financiers here are delicious little French cookie-cakes. Apparently these were created by a pastry chef in France whose shop was near the Paris stock exchange. Rich, elegant cookie cakes made with ground almonds, egg whites and browned butter - just right for his wealthy discerning customers. Cakes made in small rectangular molds resembling bars of gold probably gave them the name financiers. These are similar to Australian friands which are normally baked in muffin tins or friand pans (they make pretty cakes!). These are made with melted butter and are often topped with fresh fruit. 

With some almond meal in the freezer threatening to go rancid, financiers had to happen! Decided on this recipe from David Lebovitz as it is less richer than most recipes I came across. A touch of baking powder here makes for lighter cakes. So with black poppy seeds and a generous amount of orange zest thrown in, Orange Poppy Seed Financiers were out of the oven in no time at all. I love recipes like this! Top them with fresh fruit or chocolate chips or drizzle some citrus glaze on the warm cakes, you will like them all! Crusty edges, moist nutty interiors, these tender cakes are delightful freshly baked. 

The batter is ridiculously easy to put together - a matter of whisking in melted butter and egg whites into flour, sugar and almonds. Conveniently, the batter  can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days. 

Recipe from hereIngredients : To make about 12-15 mini cakes. Double the recipe if using a larger muffin tray. 

Ground almonds - 28 grams
Sugar - 50 grams ( I used powdered sugar, sifted)
All-purpose flour - 22 grams
Baking powder - 1/8 tsp
Black poppy seeds - 2 teaspoons
Orange zest - Freshly grated from one large orange, Microplane Zester* is the best tool for this.
Pure vanilla extract - 1/2 teaspoon
Egg whites -  62 grams
Unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (please read note) - 42 grams

1.  Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).  I used a black mini muffin tray, so baked at 180 C / 350 F.  Spray the tin with with baking spray or grease and flour lightly but thoroughly.  
2.   Sift together the sugar, ground almonds, baking powder, salt and flour into a medium sized bowl.  Whisk in the poppy seeds. 
3.  Using a small whisk, whisk together the egg whites,  vanilla , zest and melted butter to incorporate well.  Whisk the whites mixture into the almond mixture in 2-3 additions.  Whisk gently but thoroughly.  This step is important as otherwise the butter may not get mixed properly making the cakes greasy.  The batter will be thinnish and of pouring consistency.  If not using the batter immediately, you can store it in the fridge for 3 days.
4.  Fill each cavity of the muffin tray 3/4 full.  Rap the muffin tin  on the counter once or twice to release any air pockets and level the batter.  
5.  Bake for 10-12 minutes  or until the financiers  feel firm when gently pressed with a finger (I did a tooth pick test too)  
6. Cool completely, then remove from the tin.  Please do eat some as soon as they cool.  Can be stored airtight for a couple of days, but the crusts will soften.

Please note :  I made 3 batches of these.  I used melted and cooled butter for one batch and melted and butter cooled slightly (about 125 F) for another batch wondering if that would make a difference.  I could not see a great deal of difference between the two . Either ways, the cakes taste great when really fresh. Only when they are kept for more than an hour or more, they taste a tiny bit too rich. Better to play safe, use butter cooled slightly,  serve the cakes fresh off the rack.
If you do have left over cakes, it may be a good idea to warm them for a 2-3 minutes at 180 C before serving. 
Variations : Omit the poppy seeds.  Use mini chocolate chips.  Do not stir the chips into the batter as they will sink and stick to the pan.  Top the batter with a few chips after you rap and bake.
Fresh fruit : If you like fresh fruit in your bakes, do absolutely use some. Most berries (not strawberries though), plums and cherries seem to work. 
Glaze : Make these plain with either orange or lime zest.  Drizzle some glaze over the cakes when they are still warm.
Am happy about this recipe as a start for me to get know these much loved cakes.  Looking forward to try more recipes and variations, fresh fruit, browned butter and more.  The things you need to do as a baker-blogger! 

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Anonymous said...

oh they look so fresh and the black poppy seeds add so much drama

Hamaree Rasoi said...

Never knew that Financiers could have been such delicious and vibrant looking cakes. Must have tasted simply awesome. Excellent French preparation.

The Posh Nosh said...

Wow...these look great Suma. Definitely gonna try these for our picnic this weekend. I just had one question, where could I get black poppy seeds in Bangalore?

Priya said...

Wow Suma!! They look awesome, so dainty and droolworthy!

Suma Rowjee said...

@The Posh Nosh - I got them from a dry fruit shop near Frazer Town. Check dry fruit shops