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This classic French ‘petit four’ derives its name from its cute, rectangular shape which looks like mini gold bars. Another theory says that the cake became popular in the financial district of Paris surrounding the Paris stock exchange. No matter what the origin of the name, the financier smells [and tastes] just as sweet!

Though you might find the ingredient list rather basic, the secret that goes in the making of a good financier lies in the combination of browned butter and lightly toasted almond flour, two key ingredients that account for its rich, buttery flavor. The batter owes its delicate texture to beaten egg whites and can be stored in the refrigerator, making it a good bake-ahead project on weekends or anytime you have extra egg whites waiting to be put to good use.

I was quite excited at the idea of using my new silicon pan for these mini cakes from Baking at Tiffany’s, who adapted the recipe from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. While the plain financier with its browned edges and golden crumb is a treat on its own, you can always go one step ahead with fresh blueberries or raspberries to add a dash of colour to your little almond bars. I have a good mind to try them with pistachios next.

FINANCIERS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup + 1-1/2 tablespoons (120 g) sugar

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoons (40 g) unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons (60 g) almond meal

100 g egg whites or egg whites from about 3 large eggs

1/2 cup (100 g) unsalted butter, browned

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 425 oF and butter 12 financier molds or a mini-muffin tin. Refrigerate buttered tin.

  • Sift together sugar, flour and almond meal into a bowl. Create a well in the center of dry ingredients.

  • Add in the egg whites and whisk together by hand until all the ingredients have been well combined.

  • To brown the butter, melt butter in a sauce pan over low to medium heat until bits begin browning.

  • While still hot, slowly pour browned butter into batter, simultaneously whisking batter till combined.

  • Evenly distribute batter among molds or mini-muffin tin wells, leaving about 1/8″ space from the rim.

  • Lower oven temperature to 350 oF. Bake on the center rack for about 20 minutes or till golden brown.

Have you ever inadvertently missed an important ingredient from a recipe even after carefully copying it down in your own hand and double checking that you have all those things accurately weighed out on the kitchen counter? The 1/2 teaspoon baking soda that gets overlooked or the extra 1/4 cup flour that should be folded in last before sending the cake to the oven. This time I had already shut the door for a good 15 minutes on my mini Bundt pan before I noticed the eggs which should have been whipped into the batter along with butter, cream cheese and sugar, still waiting patiently in their rack. The resulting eggless cake was still nice and moist, bursting with fresh blueberries and toasted almonds, though it did not rise as much as it might have if I had not forgotten about the eggs.

BLUEBERRY ALMOND POUND CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Bundt Cake

3/4 cup butter, softened

110g cream cheese

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup almond meal

4 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

1 3/4 cups fresh blueberries

3/4 cup slivered almonds

For the Glaze & Topping

55g cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

2-3 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup slivered almonds

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease and flour a 24-cm Bundt pan. Set the pan aside.

  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt till it is well combined.

  • In large bowl, beat softened butter, cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time.

  • Beat till well combined and add vanilla extract along with the last egg. Carefully add flour mixture.

  • Fold in until it is well incorporated into batter. Stir in fresh blueberries and slivered almonds last.

  • Spoon batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for about 50 to 55 minutes until golden brown.

  • A toothpick inserted in the center of the baked cake should come out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes.

  • Invert the Bundt cake onto a wire rack and let cool completely to room temperature before glazing.

  • For the glaze, beat cream cheese and sugar together. Add milk until desired consistency is reached.

  • Drizzle thinly over the cooled cake and sprinkle with more slivered almonds. Makes 8-10 servings.

Recipe from Baker Street

Happy Women’s Day, my dear bloggers!

Today we celebrate the achievements of women all over the world and from all walks of life – from the dedicated homemaker to the independent career woman – who deserve to be honored for their significant contribution in shaping our present and future. As a spouse, daughter, sister, mother, co-worker or friend, a woman has an influential role in society, which is still unfortunately not acknowledged by many. While issues of gender bias and abuse persist at large, we still hesitate to take steps to raise awareness and empower women to recognize and stand up for their rights.

This year’s campaign theme, Be Bold for Change, aims at bringing the contribution of male and female to equal value and closing the gender gap but is it an impossible dream? We are always under constant pressure to comply with the norms society imposes on us that we fail to express our true selves. I deem myself lucky to have escaped this coercion, having always been free to speak my mind and do what I feel right. Today, I choose to be bold and take some time out for myself. To recover from my horrible period cramps and post viral symptoms and to bake a simple chocolate cake from Nigella Lawson, one of my baking inspirations and a remarkably gifted woman.

CHOCOLATE OLIVE OIL CAKE

Ingredients:

50g cocoa powder, sifted

125 ml boiling water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

150g ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 pinch kitchen salt

150 ml regular olive oil

200g white caster sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C/325ºF. Grease a 23 cm/9-inch spring form cake tin with a little oil.

  • Line the base of the tin with baking parchment. Measure and sift the cocoa powder in a bowl.

  • Whisk the boiling water into the cocoa till you have a smooth and chocolatey but runny paste.

  • Whisk in vanilla extract, set aside to cool. Combine ground almonds with baking soda and salt.

  • Put sugar, olive oil and eggs in a mixer with paddle attachment, beat vigorously for 3 minutes.

  • You should have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream. Turn the speed down a little.

  • Pour in cocoa mixture. When all is scraped in, slowly tip in the ground almonds and scrape it.

  • Stir it a little with a spatula. Pour batter into the prepared tin. Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes.

  • Bake until the sides are set and the centre on top still looks slightly damp. Cool for 10 minutes.

  • Serve the chocolate cake cut into thin slices with vanilla ice cream, like a pudding. Serves 8-10.

Nigella’s Olive Oil Chocolate Cake

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PrerrnaMirchi
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