A Cooking Class That Provides A Taste of Paris!

Tina's Finacier Cake 3This week I found myself completely absorbed with cooking classes. A demo course planned for twenty students met with far more popularity than I had expected.  In the end I gave the class twice, two nights in a row, to more than 40 people. The title “I Love Paris in the Springtime Bistro Supper” might have had something to do with the deluge of people scrambling for a spot.  After decades of teaching, I’ve learned that my students often find that food can provide a virtual if not a geographical visit to a favorite place.

Betty teaching at Different Drummer's KitchenThe menu for this dreamy escape to France’s capital began with warm mushroom and scallion tarts paired with a salad of spring greens tossed in sherry vinaigrette. Next came sautéed scallops set atop asparagus and fresh peas, all napped with herbed beurre blanc sauce, plus mounds of extra-light whipped potatoes. The finale was a buttery, almond financier cake garnished with homemade crème fraiche ice cream and fresh berries.

 When I opened the class, I joked that this was the point at which I was supposed to pass out the Air France tickets for a non-stop flight to Paris, but the truth is that this special meal magically transported all of us—students, staff, moi aussi—to the other side of the Atlantic!  La cuisine can indeed transcend borders, and just so you don’t feel left out, I’m happy to share the recipe for that scrumptious financier cake here! Bon Voyage!

 Financier Cake
This easy and quick recipe for a single 8-inch financier cake is a twist on traditional French financiers, delicious little cakes made with brown butter, sugar, flour, and almonds. My friend, Tina Isaac, an American journalist, who lives in Paris with her husband and two children, shared the recipe with me. Serve the cake with fresh seasonal berries and a good vanilla or another favorite ice cream at a French backyard fête.

10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature              plus extra for the pan
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or kosher salt
4 large egg whites at room temperature, lightly beaten
11/4 teaspoons vanilla
Confectioner’s sugar, optional

1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Butter and flour an 8-inch cake pan. Line the bottom with a piece of parchment cut to fit the pan.  Butter and flour the paper.

2. Place the butter in a small, heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk often until butter has melted and comes to a good simmer.  Cook until the butter turns a rich nutty brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully as the butter can go from brown to dark quickly. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Process the almonds in a food processor, pulsing the machine, until they are finely ground. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, flour, and fleur de sel. Whisk to combine. Whisk in the egg whites and the vanilla. The batter will be quick thick. Gradually whisk in the butter until well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

4. Bake the cake until golden, and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool 5 minutes, and then unmold. Serve, either warm or at room temperature. Dust lightly with confectioner’s sugar if desired.  Serves 6.

copyright Betty Rosbottom 2013












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4 thoughts on “A Cooking Class That Provides A Taste of Paris!

  1. Oh, I’m happy to have Tina’s recipe for the cake she served us one night chez elle. It was SO good. Actually, since I live in Paris, I buy these things and wouldn’t even think of making them. However, this is tempting me to try. Merci!

    • You’ll love it–a breeze to make and holds up well for a couple of days if wrapped up airtight! My students were crazy for this cake!

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