Blackberry season is my favourite, and seeing it’s my birthday this week I thought a suitably pink celebratory bramble bake would be appropriate! This recipe for blackberry and star anise friands is from Ottolenghi’s Sweet: it combines the fragrant, warming spice of star anise with sharp seasonal fruit in an almond rich cake topped with sweet blackberry icing. To make the friands, you will need:
180g unsalted butter, plus an extra 10g, melted, for brushing
60g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
200g icing sugar
120g ground almonds
1½ tsp ground star anise
(or 3 whole star anise, blitzed in a spice grinder and passed through a fine-mesh sieve)
1/8 tsp salt
150g egg whites (from 4 large eggs)
finely grated zest of 1 small orange (1 tsp)
18 whole blackberries (about 120g), cut in half lengthways
For the icing:
60g blackberries (about 8), plus an extra 24 small blackberries, to garnish
¾ tbsp water
1 tsp lemon juice
165g icing sugar.
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7. Brush the 12 holes of a regular muffin tin with the melted butter and sprinkle all over with flour. Tap the tray gently to ensure an even coating of the flour, then turn upside down to remove the excess. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the batter. To brown the butter, place it in a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat until melted. Continue to cook until the butter is foaming, gently swirling the pan from time to time to allow the solids to brown more evenly. You will see dark brown sediment begin to form on the sides and bottom of the pan. Continue to let the butter bubble away until it turns a rich golden brown and smells of toasted nuts and caramel.
Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes to allow the burnt solids to collect at the bottom of the pan. Strain through a fine-mesh (or muslin- lined) sieve, discarding the solids. Allow the browned butter to cool slightly before using. While the butter is cooling, sift the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds, star anise and salt into a bowl.
Place the egg whites in a small bowl and use a whisk or fork to froth them up for a few seconds – you do not need to whisk them completely. Pour the egg whites into the sifted dry ingredients and stir until they are incorporated. Add the orange zest and browned butter and mix until the batter is smooth.
Remove the muffin tin from the fridge and fill the moulds just over two-thirds of the way up the sides. Place three halved blackberries on top, cut side down, and bake for 10 minutes.
Reduce the temperature to 210C/190C Fan/Gas 6 and turn the tray around in the oven for even cooking. Continue to cook for another 8 minutes, until the edges of the friands are golden brown and the centres have a slight peak and spring back when gently prodded. Set aside to cool before removing them from their moulds: you might need to use a small knife to help you release the sides.
Ice the cakes with water icing made from 60g of blackberries mashed with 3/4 tbsp water and 1 tsp lemon juice sieved and poured over the icing to make a light purple runny icing: it should just be thick enough to form a thin glaze on the tops of the cakes. Spoon the icing over the cakes, spreading it to the edges so that it runs down the sides; top with a blackberry, leave to set then serve.
What are you baking this weekend?