Last Christmas Rémi's family gave me a beautiful cookbook from Maison Ladurée, titled Sucré. Filled with dozens of elegantly sweet recipes, It was a gift that thoughtfully satisfied my interest in cooking, "but also", they added, but I already knew, "to help develop my French language skills". And the book has certainly forced me to expand my vocabulary, especially in the realm of cuisine and cooking. It's also been a great source of inspiration for whenever I feel like making something both French and sweet.
One of the simpler recipes in the book is the one for making financiers, little cakes best described as buttery pillows of almond goodness. But in the process of making the financiers, I quickly noticed that even though the recipe is simple, the process required required careful timing and vigilance - no doubt to achieve the financier's trademark crispy, golden exterior and airy lightness within.
The History of the Financier
According to this NY Times article, the financier was created close to the Bourse - the historical stock exchange of Paris. It's guessed that the baker behind their invention named these little gold bar shaped cakes after his clients who worked at the Bourse, perhaps to flatter them.
These days, the financier very often varies away from the almond-based tradition, with pistachio, pear, ginger and berry flavours, just to name few, sometimes appearing.
Here is Ladureé's financier recipe, translated from French to English.
- 95 grams butter, plus 20 grams for buttering the molds
- 195 grams of icing sugar
- 70 grams of standard plain flour, plus 20 grams for the mold
- 65 grams of almond powder
- 2 pinches of baking powder
- 6 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
- Financier molds. These come in large and small, and while are easy to come by in France, those who live elsewhere might need to source something from Amazon or similar. Mine look a lot like this.
Note: The financier batter is best prepared the day before they're cooked. Leave the batter in the fridge for at least 12 hours for optimal results.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat and leave it until it takes on a golden-brown color. If you notice that the color is about to deepen beyond this, quickly immerse the base of the saucepan in cold water to halter the browning process. Let the butter cool.
- In a bowl, mix the icing sugar, flour and almond powder (you can use a mixer if you wish). Add the baking powder, incorporate it, and using a spatula, add the egg whites little by little to avoid lumps. Add the vanilla, then the cooled butter. Mix. Cover the batter and put it in your fridge for at least 12 hours.
- The next day, butter the molds with the remaining 20 grams of softened butter. Put the molds in the fridge for ten minutes to help the butter re-solidify. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees Celsius.
When the molds are cold, sprinkle the remaining 20 grams of flour over them, then turn them upside down and tap their bottoms to remove any excess flour. Then, fill the molds with the financier batter so that they're 3/4 full.
- Place the financiers in the oven and let them cook from 6 to 8 minutes. Once the financiers attain a golden color, remove them from the oven. Let them cool down a bit, and once you're comfortable handling them, remove them from their molds and place them on a wire rack so that they can cool down completely.
- The financier batter can stay in the fridge for two to three days.
- Once cooked, the financiers should be good to eat for up to three to four days. Keep them in an airtight container for best results.