If you’re thinking about making madeleines, you will certainly need the right mould for it, and I’ve found an online supplier here that you can order from. You’re not likely to find them in your average American supermarket.
Of course, I suppose it helps to know exactly what madeleines are …
Madeleines are a small, traditional cake from the city of Commercy in the region of Lorraine. The bottoms are shell-shaped, and the cakes are elongated with a little pregnant bump on top that comes from the extra eggs in the batter.
History states that madeleines were invented in the kitchens of King Stanislas in the eighteenth century. (From what I can understand, this dethroned Polish king inherited the region of Lorraine (and another I’ve forgotten) until his death. A young servant to royalty, Madeleine Paulmier, created these cakes in 1755.
According to other less-reliable sources, the madeleine dates back to the origin of the pilgrimage to Saint Jacques de Compostela, where a girl named “Madelaine” offered pilgrims a cake made with eggs, molded in a large shell (which is the emblem of the pilgrimage)
Marcel Proust immortalised the madeleine in the early twentieth century in his work, In Search of Lost Time. A taste of a madeleine reminds the narrator Marcel of his happy childhood in Combray. He writes,
“I raised a spoonful of the tea to my lips in which I had soaked a morsel of cake. But at the very moment when the sip, mixed the crumbs, touched my palate, I flinched, attentive to the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded me, isolated, with no suggestion of its origin. »
With Proust, the “madeleine” entered everyday language. And sometimes you hear a French person say, “that’s my own little madeleine” talking about a recipe that brings one suddenly back to childhood. This is taken and roughly translated from this site.
You can find a lot of advice on making the perfect madeleine – to achieve the flawless little bump. I’ve read that you need to use iron pans, that you need to leave the batter out for 2 hours before baking, that you need to put it in the refrigerator before baking, that you need to have an equal mixture of eggs, butter, sugar and flour …
My first attempt had too much flour. I knew it did, but I still tried it anyway. (And I found myself asking, Is this a cute little cake? Or a weapon?) But I think I have a recipe that will work for you. I made madeleines using both large moulds
and small bite-size ones.
Mix 3 large eggs with 2/3 cups of sugar and a tablespoon of honey. Use a mixer to fluff up the eggs and melt the sugar.
Add the zest of one lemon. I am smitten with this little gadget that cost about 3€ in the supermarket. No more grating lemons on the side of the cheese grater (along with my fingers) only to have most of the zest stuck in the grater itself.
Then add 1 1/3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, a pinch of salt (if you like to measure, try 1/4 t) and mix that together. This is one of those recipes that works really well with a gluten-free flour mix (a mix contains non-gluten flours plus a gum to hold it together, such as xanthan or guar).
And then add just over 1/2 c super soft butter. It has to be really soft or the madeleines won’t rise. I recommend leaving it out the night before.
Pour the batter into your moulds, using a pastry bag or a spoon. I’m not really convinced that leaving it out or leaving in the fridge makes a huge distance, so you can do that step or leave it. I’ll never know if it’s better to use a cast-iron mould since I couldn’t find one.
Set the time for 20 minutes and put your oven to 200°C, (which is 400°F). After the time has elapsed and the oven is very hot, put your pan in and set the timer to 5 minutes. After that, you might actually be ready to take the cakes out if your pan is for mini madeleines. Otherwise, you will want to reduce the oven to 350° (or 180°C), and possibly turn the pan, and bake them for another 4 minutes or so.
Flip them over onto the cooling rack.
And there you go!
Little buttery bundles.
Today we let our kids walk home from school alone (which is a 10 minute walk in our perfectly safe neighbourhood). I usually don’t do that because I’m paranoid. Plus, I actually like picking them up from school and being there to greet them. It makes up in some small way for the numerous times I shove them away from me because I’m busy on the computer. (Like now).
My husband was working from home and we were both looking out the window waiting for them, like silly gooses. They were fine, of course.
I can’t say the same for the madeleines, however, because there is not one left.
- 3 eggs
- 130 grams of sugar (2/3 cup)
- 1 T honey
- 130 g flour (1⅓ c)
- 125 g butter
- pinch salt
- 2 t baking soda
- lemon zest
- Set butter to soften overnight.
- Beat eggs and sugar.
- Add all ingredients, and mix, but add the butter last.
- Put in mould and heat the oven to 200°C or (400°F) for 20 minutes.
- Bake for 5 minutes at that temperature.
- If more time is needed for the larger mould, lower to 180° (350°F) and bake for 4 more minutes.
- Flip over on to a cooling rack.