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31 July 2014

Over the past few weeks, I have experienced my first ever heatwave in the city. Now I love the summer, I really do - but commuting and high summer do not a marriage make. The tube is my purgatory these days, and life as a working girl dictates that the closest I get to the midday sun is through an open office window. Gone are the days of mad dogs and englishmen.

The hazy heat has tweaked my roots, and I've found myself daydreaming about summers gone by deep in the Rutland countryside. Hedgerows speckled with glossy berries and beautiful elderflower must have been playing on my mind, as these little friands are as British as they come (aside from their continental origins, that is). Homegrown produce isn't quite as easy to come across in London, but do try and get your blackberries fresh - they're juicy little bursts of summer that you can't buy in the supermarket for love or money.

Friands are the teeniest and lightest of morsels, and make the perfect hot weather treat. A note on the technicalities - apparently these are not to be confused with the Financier which, despite appearing and tasting very similar, requires a brown-butter base. You say to-may-to, I say to-mar-to.
50g plain flour
120g icing sugar
40g ground almonds
4 egg whites
65g butter
100g blackberries
50ml elderflower cordial

Preheat your oven to 170C, and carefully grease a small cupcake tray (you can use cases, but baking straight in the tin will give you a nicer finish). In a clean bowl, sieve and mix the flour, sugar and almonds. Add the egg whites and elderflower cordial and whisk for 1-2 minutes, until well combined, smooth and glossy.

Seperately gently heat the butter to melt it, then continue to heat until the residual solids have coloured slightly. While whisking, pour the butter into the mixture through a sieve. Leave it to rest for 15-30 minutes, then spoon into the moulds. You should fill them to no more than 3/4 up the sides. Place a whole blackberry on top of each cake, then bake in the preheated oven for 10-20 minutes. The cooking time will depend upon the strength of your oven - they are done when they are golden brown and firm to the touch.

Cool in the tins for 10-15 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar, and eat them as soon as possible - these little babies won't be quite as beautiful the next day.

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