Of all the seasons, I think it is summer that smells the best. There is the zesty chill of winter, the fresh fruity bouquet of spring, the crisp apple-scented air of autumn and then there is the sweet berry ripeness of summer. When it comes to fruit, summer is definitely where it’s at for me as I just love berries. To me, they are bite-sized bursts of summer delight, and I could probably wax lyrical about berries in the same way I do about ice cream it’s really not that hard. What’s not to love?
Well, I have to admit that as a child I never did like berries, but nor did I like anything that came from a plant for that matter. Growing up in Asia where fresh berries were far and few to come by in those days, I was never properly introduced to the berry until we moved to Australia. And even then, as a six year-old kid my idea of tasty fodder consisted of great Australian treats like Twisties and Burger Rings, which come to think, never really tasted of burgers at all. Oh how I now envy you fortunate babes who were weaned on berries picked fresh from bushes in the countryside. Don’t you dare belittle your good fortune!
I was a city kid, weaned on Paddle Pops and Sunny Boys and back then I was more interested in sinking my teeth into a slice of mum’s fairy bread than a biting into a succulent ripe berry, and to be honest I cannot remember when this all changed. My childhood might have been devoid of actual berry picking and frolicking in the countryside, but I don’t think I turned out too bad. Now, I could never again bring myself to place a Twistie or a Burger Ring in my mouth as my palate just won’t allow it. Perhaps my tastebuds have matured and have become too good for all that junk, but I have to say that devouring a bag of Doritos has never been beneath me. That said, I have now come to love the berry in whatever shape or form.
Yesterday was an unusually nippy summer’s day; I had planned on making these berries into some sort of berry smoothie, however the weather did not permit and the smoothie had to wait another day. It was so strangely cold that where I wanted to be was next to an oven. An outrageous statement to make mid-December in suburban Sydney, although there must have been some sort of meteorological mix-up because I was fairly certain yesterday felt like a chilly winter’s day. So what became of these raspberries were fillings for some friands.
An all-time favourite at our place, mum always loved the friand and even wrote an irate letter to the Green’s Company when they discontinued their Lemon and Poppy Seed Friand mix. Apparently there just wasn’t a demand for them. Luckily for mum, I have since learned how to make them myself and she needn’t rely on the Greens company for her friand fix. We’ve now moved on from the lemon and poppy seed days and have moved to our berry phase. They lend so well to baking as when cooked the berries pop and burst open their juicy goodness into the cake. What you get are moist pockets of flavour exploding in your mouth!
So when to day turns out to a typical, muggy summer’s day in Sydney, I wish I still had those berries for a smoothie, but I guess you can’t win both ways. But do try these friands as they hit the spot no matter what season.
Summer Berry Friands
taken from this book
1 cup almond meal
1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted
¾ cup plain all-purpose flour, sifted
½ tsp baking powder
5 egg whites, lightly beaten
½ cup fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries or strawberries, sliced)
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Prepare a friand tin or 6 individual dariole moulds by lightly brushing them with butter.
Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat until golden in colour. Set side to cool.
Place almond meal, icing sugar, flour and baking powder in a bowl and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy.
Add the egg whites to the flour mixture and stir to combine.
Then add the cooled butter and stir until thoroughly blended.
Spoon the mixture into the tin/moulds, dropping some berries halfway through.
Fill the tins/moulds 1.5cm from the top.
Place a berry on top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown and springy to touch.
Cool for 10 minutes and unmould the friands by tapping the bases lightly a couple of times until they are released. Dust with icing sugar.