Absolutely delicious on their own, warm from the oven, financier are a classic French pastry. Sweet and nutty, these little almond cakes, with crisp exteriors and springy middles, are leavened with egg whites and flavoured with almonds and beurre noisette (browned butter).
Whilst they really are a treat on their own, it’s all too easy to eat a whole batch of twelve in one sitting. Trust me. So, this fresh and delicate, rhubarb, elderflower and custard version, a taste of early Summer, is to slow us down, and make them last that little bit longer and go that bit further (although, I can’t guarantee it).
You’ll need to set aside some time to allow the batter to rest in the fridge (I’d recommending making the crème pâtissière around the same time, to allow it to chill, too) but it’s worth it because once the financier are cooked they’re best eaten fresh and on the same day.
Note: I used a small cake tin instead of moulds, simply because I couldn’t get my hands on financier moulds here in east Manchester.
Rhubarb, Custard and Elderflower Financier
Ingredients – for 12 financier
Butter, 65g (plus a little extra for greasing the tin/moulds)
Icing sugar, 80g
Ground almonds, 48g
Plain flour, 2 tbsp
Self-raising flour, 1 tbsp
Salt, a pinch
Baking powder, 1/2 tsp
Egg whites, at room temperature, 2
Vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp
For the custard (crème pâtissière)
Whole milk, 125ml
Vanilla pod, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
Caster sugar, 25g
Egg yolks, 2
Plain flour, 1 tbsp
Cornflour, 1 tbsp
For the poached rhubarb
Rhubarb, 1 stick
Elderflowers, 1 sprig (rinsed under cold water and the flowers removed from the stem)
Generously butter financier moulds, or a small cake tin, and refrigerate.
Gently heat the butter in a small pan, swirling it occasionally, until it begins to brown,about 5 minutes, and has a deliciously nutty aroma. Set aside.
Sift the sugar over the ground almond and add both flours, salt and baking powder, and gently whisk to combine. Add egg whites one at a time, whisking only enough to combine. If you overwork the batter, the cakes will be tough.
Add the vanilla to the butter. Then, in a steady stream, carefully whisk the butter into flour mixture. Cover with clingfilm, and, this is the difficult bit, refrigerate for 3 hours. In the meantime, you can prepare your rhubarb and custard.
Heat the oven to 180°C and prepare your tin, or moulds if you have them. Pipe, or spoon the mixture in to the tin, or moulds and bake for 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool a little before removing from the tins, or moulds.
To make the crème pâtissière
Bring the milk and vanilla to the boil in a saucepan then remove from the heat. Mix the sugar, egg yolks and flours together until thoroughly incorporated. Pour 1/3 of the warmed milk over the egg mixture and whisk vigorously. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk and continue to whisk over a medium heat. Cook until the mixture boils and thickens being careful not to let it burn on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming. Allow to cool and place in the fridge until needed.
For the poached rhubarb
Clean the rhubarb and remove the ends. Cut in to small pieces and set aside. In a pan, make sugar syrup by bringing the sugar and water to the boil. When the sugar syrup is boiling add the rhubarb and turn off the heat. Leave to cool in the pan: the sugar syrup will be hot enough to poach the rhubarb without it losing its shape and becoming mushy. Once cool, scatter in the elderflowers, saving a few to dress the plate.
To plate the dessert, layer rhubarb over the warm financier and spoon over a little of the rhubarb and elderflower syrup. Pipe a generous serving of crème pât. Decorate with single or small sprigs of elderflowers.
Just enough of what you crave is as good as any feast