Taken from Rising Hope: Recipes and Stories from Luminary Bakery, by Rachel Stonehouse and Kaila H Johnson (£20, Harper Collins).
As a child, Grace never had the freedom to explore bakeries, even though she was drawn to them. As time passed, her desire for a career in baking did not subside, but disadvantage began to paralyse her life from moving forward. It wasn't until she embarked on an apprenticeship with Luminary that her dream began to come true.
After graduating, Grace took a job at a sourdough bakery, immersing herself in the world of grains and spices. Cardamom, in particular, piqued her interest and inspired her to create these delicate cakes, fit for afternoon tea or dessert. Their complex taste and aesthetic beauty are worth the small extra effort they take to make!
- 120g unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
- 95g wholegrain or dark rye flour, plus extra for dusting
- 3 firm Conference pears
- 6 cardamom pods, crushed but not ground
- 220g icing sugar
- 1tsp baking powder
- ½tsp fine salt
- 75g ground almonds
- 100g unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
- 220g egg whites (about 6 large eggs)
- 250g full-fat crème fraîche
- ½tsp vanilla extract
- 25g unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Grease 10 holes of a muffin tin with butter, making sure to get into every corner and right up the sides, then dust with some flour, tipping it round the tin before shaking any excess out.
Place the pears on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes. They should be slightly soft but still firm when squeezed. Once baked, set them aside to cool completely.
Place the butter and cardamom pods in a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter is browned. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, sift together the icing sugar, rye flour, baking powder, salt and ground almonds. Add the finely chopped pistachios and stir in.
In a separate bowl, gently froth the egg whites with a whisk until bubbles appear and they are loosened. You don't want to whip them or try to make a foam. Add the loosened egg whites to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
Strain the butter to remove the cardamom and check the temperature – the butter should be warmer than room temperature but not so hot that it cooks the egg. Pour the strained butter in a stream into the batter, mixing as you do so, until the batter is smooth and glossy. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
While the batter is resting, quarter and core the cooled pears. Gently cut 4-5 thin slices along each quarter, but keep them all attached at the top to make a fan shape. Also, bring the oven back up to temperature. Once the batter has rested, spoon it into each muffin hole, filling them three-quarters full.
Gently lay a pear fan over the top of each one (you might need to trim them to fit) and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
To serve, mix the crème fraîche with the vanilla and gently spoon a dollop onto one side of the top of the cooled financiers. Sprinkle over the chopped pistachios to decorate.
Photography by Rachel Stonehouse
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