On Sunday I discovered that I had rather a lot of egg whites stored in the freezer. I freeze spare egg whites singly in those small plastic containers that contain the salad dressing when you get a take-away salad (you could also use an egg-cup, as does the friend who gave me this useful tip), then un-mould them and store them in a plastic bag. It makes it easy to defrost however many you need quite quickly. So, I thought it was time to use up a few of them, and decided to bake something to go with our afternoon tea.
This recipe for hazelnut friands started with this Nigel Slater recipe in The Observer but I have reduced the amount of butter and sugar, as I found the original recipe oozed butter when in the oven. I have also upped the proportion of hazelnuts and lemon zest, used raspberries instead of blackberries and reduced the overall quantities to give 8 little cakes.
30g plain flour
90g icing sugar
70g blanched hazelnuts
zest of 1 lemon
3 egg whites
40g raspberries or blackberries, halved if large
a few blanched hazelnuts
Melt the butter in a small pan until it is a nutty gold, and put aside to cool. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6.
Sift flour and sugar together into a bowl. Grind the hazelnuts; you can of course use ready ground hazelnuts, but I like the slight variation in texture you get when you grind them yourself, and the small grinder that came with my stick-blender makes quick work of this. Add them to the flour and sugar together with the lemon zest.
Prepare a muffin tin either by setting out eight muffin cases, or by cutting small circles of greaseproof paper to line the base of each muffin. The latter sounds a bit fiddly but only takes a couple of moments if you fold the paper into eight and cut them all out at once. I think the resulting mini cakes look particularly sweet.
Beat the egg whites to a sloppy foam – they shouldn’t be beaten enough to stand up. Gently fold into the the dry ingredients with the melted butter until all is incorporated. Divide the mixture between the muffin tin/cases and top each cake with some berries and a chopped hazelnut. I used some caramelised hazelnuts that I happened to have and they added a little extra crunch and sweetness.
Bake for 12-15 mins (mine took 15 mins at 180°C Fan) until golden and slightly risen. Leave to settle in the tin for a few minutes before removing them and putting on a rack to cool.
They go quite well with morning coffee too…