This delicate almond cake is a favourite with French bakers and now you can make your own with this simple recipe and expert tips
The history of the financier
A version of the financier has existed since the Middle Ages, when it was known as the visitandine, after the order of nuns in Nancy and Lorraine who prepared a small round cake with egg whites, butter and almond. The visitandine fell out of fashion after the Renaissance, however, at the end of the 19th century the pâtissier Lasne, who set up shop next to the Bourse, the Paris stock exchange, resurrected the recipe. To please his banking clients, he changed the shape to that of an ingot and renamed the golden cake ‘financier’.
Tips for the perfect financier
The almonds should be ground very finely and sifted to give the cake a delicate crumb; some pastry chefs toast the almond powder to give a deeper flavour.
Icing sugar adds to the melt-in-the-mouth texture.
The butter may be melted, browned and sieved for a nuttier taste, or clarified to create a crisp exterior on the cake and extend its shelf life, though it’s generally agreed that financiers taste best the day they are made.
Some recipes call for beaten egg whites, but in the authentic version they are only lightly whisked with a fork, to stop the surface of the cake from cracking.
• 130g/1 ⁄2 cup plus 1tsp unsalted butter
• 120g (1 cup) whole blanched or ground almonds
• 110g/1 cup plus 1tbsp icing sugar
• 30g/1 ⁄4 cup flour
• 3 egg whites
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/ gas mark 2.
2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, watching it closely, until a white foam rises to the surface and the clear part turns golden. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. If using whole almonds, grind them to a fine powder in a blender. Spread the ground almonds on to a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about ten minutes, or until pale golden, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven to cool slightly and turn up the heat to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5.
4. Sift the icing sugar, flour and almonds into a mixing bowl. Lightly whisk the egg whites to break them up, and add to the dry ingredients. Pour the butter into the bowl through a fine strainer. Stir to combine the ingredients well.
5. Fill financier or cupcake moulds to two-thirds and bake for 12 minutes, until the cakes have coloured lightly. Serve warm if possible.
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