Never in my wildest dream did I think I would write about making Madeleines. I kept them as a cherished memory of that little pastry shop in the south of France where I used to buy and and enjoy them 5 years ago. So you can be sure I’m pretty proud of myself that I was brave enough to buy the pans, make them and serve them to a special guest, that I met for the first time. All this originated because of a trip to New Hampshire and seeing that my nieces Marielle and Kim produce this little gems, so I thought if they can do it, so can I and I did.
For those who don’t know what Madeleines are, I found this from Wikipedia. The madeleine is a traditional small cake from Commercy and Liverdun, two communes of the Lorraine region in northeastern France.
Madeleines are very small sponge cakes with a distinctive shell-like shape acquired from being baked in pans with shell-shaped depressions. Aside from the traditional moulded pan, no special tools are required to make madeleines.
A génoise cake batter is used. The flavour is similar to, but somewhat lighter than, sponge cake.
There are so many versions about the origin of Madeleines; it is difficult to pinpoint one. According to one story, the name “madeleine” was given to the cookies by Louis XV to honour his father in-law’s cook, Madeleine Paulmier. Louis first tasted them in Lorraine in 1755; his wife, Mari then introduced them at Versailles where they soon became all the rage.
Whatever the origins, they have become inextricably linked with the author Marcel Proust who, in his: “ Á la recherche du temps perdu/ Remembrances of Things Past, “called the madeleine, “a little shell of cake, so generously sensual beneath the piety of its stern pleating.” This book sounds like something I might enjoy reading one day; but it will have to wait a while. It has 7 volumes; I have decided to keep it for the days I will be sitting in the old age home….
The recipe I am offering today is based“Madeleines de Proust” in honour of the writer who so loved them. The chef gives them a distinctive citrus flavour with the addition of lemon zest, but you’ll also find some flavoured with pistachios, tea, orange and chocolate.
“These Madeleines are all that a Madeleine should be: Tender little cakes with the fine flavour of soft flour and bronzed with a butter crust. But the finishing touch is the light citrusy glaze that moistens and elevates these Madeleines from being something ordinary (madeleines are never ordinary) to being the moist, yet delicately-dainty little cakes that makes writers rhapsodize about .” David Lebovitz
I also would agree that they’re definitely tea-worthy or with une tasse de chocolat chaud.
For my recipe we must thank David Lebovitz
Adapted from The Sweet Life In Paris by David Lebovitz
They’re done when the cakes feel just set if you poke them with your finger. Avoid over baking them. There’s nothing better than a fresh, buttery madeleine.
I also prefer to bake these in the upper-third of my oven, so the tops get slightly-browned. I love the lemon glaze, but you can omit it if you want your madeleines naked.
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup (130g) granulated sugar
rounded 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (175g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
zest of one small lemon
9 tablespoons (120g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds
3/4 cup (150g) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1. Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer.
2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 5 minutes until frothy and thickened.
3. Spoon the flour and baking powder into a sifter or mesh strainer and use a spatula to fold in the flour as you sift it over the batter. (Rest the bowl on a damp towel to help steady it for you.)
4. Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter, then dribble the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.
5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Batter can be chilled for up to 12 hours.)
6. To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
8. Plop enough batter in the center of each indentation with enough batter which you think will fill it by 3/4′s (you’ll have to eyeball it, but it’s not brain-surgery so don’t worry if you’re not exact.) Do not spread it. I used my small cookie scoop.
10. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until the cakes just feel set. While the cakes are baking, make a glaze in a small mixing bowl by stirring together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth.
11. Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. The moment they’re cool enough to handle, dip each cake in the glaze, turning them over to make sure both sides are coated and scrape off any excess with a dull knife. After dipping, rest each one back on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up.
Storage: Glazed madeleines are best left uncovered, or not tightly-wrapped; they’re best eaten the day they’re made. They can be kept in a container for up to three days after baking, if necessary. I don’t recommend freezing them since the glaze will melt.
I love to try new products and gadgets; this week I am adding a little segment to my blog. I will share with you something I have discovered over the years that makes cooking easier and more fun. Everything I will review, I have tried and gave it my little stamp of approval.
For cakes that turn out beautifully every time, start by spraying pans with Bake Easy. This convenient non-stick spray helps your cakes release perfectly with fewer crumbs for easier icing and a flawless decorated cake. Just a light, even coating does the job. Eliminate parchment paper; no more greasing and flouring your baking pans and muffin tins. Versatile for all types of baking; I have been using this fantastic product; follow the instructions on the can. I found this in a kitchen store. There are many others on the market, but this is the one I found and tried. My madeleines slid off the pans.
Thank you for reading me; I love hearing from you.. If you have a product or gadget you are wondering about, send me a note. If I can, I will try it and give you a review; just another excuse to look for something new.