This recipe was inspired by one of Ottolenghi’s financiers, mentioned in the previous post. The financier I picked for inspiration is a dense cake packed with almond goodness and fruit in the centre, and topped with more fruit and cream. The size of Ottolenghi’s financier is also atypical in that it is much larger than a regular financier and is round in shape. There are specific financier moulds which are oval or rectangular in shape. When these aren’t at hand, it is recommended to use muffin trays, which is what I did.
Financiers, which originated in France, are considered to be tea cakes: light, springy, moist, with a crisp exterior. They are best served warm with a cup of tea, but they can be covered and stored for a few days at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Rumour has it that financiers were first made in the late 19th century by a pastry chef whose shop was close to the Paris Stock Exchange. He baked the Financiers in rectangular moulds that were said to resemble bars of gold.
Financiers typically include egg whites, flour, icing (confectioners) sugar and brown butter (described in this blog post). As I was trying to achieve a similar texture to Ottolenghi’s financier, I had many (MANY) attempts at making my own version of financiers. I studied the main attributes of a financier, and ultimately, it became clear that the classical financier is one that is light and spongey and not dense like Ottolenghi’s. In the end I decided to opt for the traditional method.
Financiers are typically simple, focusing on the flavour of almond and caramelised butter, and generally topped with fresh summer fruit. In my recipe, I decided to deviate from the original by adding liquorice root powder and orange zest to the mix. I’ve topped my financier with hand dried orange slices bought from the archaeological site of Tindari, Sicily (which you can also source from Wholefoods) and mascarpone cream flavoured with liquorice root powder and orange zest.
Serves: approx 12
Time: 45 minutes
- 113 gr unsalted butter (note only 90ml of brown butter will be required)
- 30g plain (all-purpose) flour
- 55g ground almond
- 90g sifted icing (confectioners) sugar
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 5g of liquorice root powder
- orange zest of one large orange (incl. zest for decoration)
- 3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 150g mascarpone cream mixed with a 1/2 a teaspoon of liquorice root powder
- hand dried orange slices, quartered (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F) with the oven rack in the centre of the oven to prevent the financiers from cooking to quickly (and cracking at the surface).
- Prepare the brown butter (see this post for method) – you can also make more than is required for this recipe and store it for future use. You will only need 80ml. Use what is leftover to line your financier or muffin moulds.
- Prepare the dry ingredients (ground almond, flour, salt, sifted sugar, liquorice root powder) and mix together. Create a well.
- Prepare the wet ingredients (vanilla extract, lightly beaten eggs to prevent cakes from cracking on the surface, butter) and pour into the well of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined, eventually adding the orange zest and mixing some more. If you don’t plan on cooking the financiers straight away, the batter can be covered and stored in the fridge for a few days.
- Transfer the batter with the help of a spoon or a piping bag and fill the moulds up to 2/3. Place the moulds into the oven and leave for 15 minutes. You should have a golden brown crust by this point and they should be springy to the touch.
- In the meantime, prepare the cream. Mix the mascarpone with the liquorice root powder and only top the financiers once they have cooled on a wire rack because the cream will melt. Alternatively, if you like your financiers rather warm, serve cream on the side. I have shaped the cream into quenelles where the cream is moulded into a shape similar to a rugby. There is a specific technique to do this but what matters is that you’ve got a couple of spoons to shape the cream, which need to be dipped in warm water to help the cream slide off neatly.
- Don’t forget to sprinkle some orange zest and more, importantly, make a hot cuppa.