Friands are small cakes that are very popular in Australian bakeries and cafes. They’re not exclusive to Auz. and NZ, but the term does seem to be used exclusively there. They are actually a riff off of a french financier, a small pastry made with almond flour and lots of butter. The french cakes tend to be very tender, but friands are also very moist, moreso than financiers. They both have almond flour in them, but friands usually include some kind of fruit, as well. The fruits add moisture and turn these into small, tasty muffin substitutes in the morning, instead of relegating them to afternoon snacks and desserts.
I used mashed banana in this batch, so these are moister than most. In fact, they taste like super moist, miniature banana breads. The texture is soft, not chewy, and the little cakes sort of melt into your mouth. This comes not only from the relatively large amount of butter in the recipe, but from the almond meal. While the ground almonds add structure and moistness to the cake, unlike the use of additional flour, they contribute no gluten to toughen up the cakes. It’s the texture that really sets these apart from mini muffins or cupcakes, even if they look a bit like mini muffins at first glance.
Most friand pans I have seen make oval or rectangular cakes, none larger than a few bites. A mini muffin pan is a fine substitute and turns out cakes that will just take two bites to finish off. If you want to use a regular muffin pan and get bigger friands, you’ll have to increase the baking time by about 5 minutes, and you will only want to fill the pans about 3/4 full, so they won’t be too thick. I love the mini muffin size and will stick with that as my standard.
Banana Cinnamon Friands
1 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
6 large egg whites
2 medium bananas, mashed (approx 1 cup)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Generously oil or butter a mini muffin tin (or two tins, if one doesn’t have 30 mini muffin cups).
In a large bowl, whisk together almond meal, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Whisk in butter, then add the egg whites in gradually, making sure that they are fully incorporated into the batter. Stir in mashed bananas.
Divide mixture evenly among prepared mini muffin cups. Each will be full almost to the top, but the friands do not rise much, so not to worry.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, until friands are golden brown around the sides and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Turn friands out onto a wire rack to cool, loosening from the muffin tin with a knife, if necessary.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Friands can be stored in an airtight container for several days.
Makes 30 friands.