Madeleines are delicious scallop-shaped French tea cakes – buttery, cakey, crisp at the edges, with a hint of vanilla and lemon. Perfect for dunking in your cup of tea!
There are many stories to their origin, the most popular one is where the chefs of Commercy (a town in north-east France) served these to the Duke of Lorraine in the middle of 18th century, and by the end of the 19th century, the Madeleine was considered a staple of the diet of the French. Of course, these were also made popular by the French author Marcel Proust in his novel ‘Swann Way’ published in 1913 (where he says a taste of the cake is said to have evoked the surge of memory and nostalgia).
Regardless of the origin, one thing is for sure – they deserve the legendary status! These are sometimes called cookies, but they are in reality small crumbly moist sponge cakes. Dust them with icing sugar, or coat them in glaze or chocolate – I prefer them simple and straightforward 🙂
You would need a special madeleine pan for this (I know, you already own a lot of pans like I do, but this one’s so worth it!). From all the recipes and reviews I read online, all the chefs said a big no-no to the silicon pans, so go for the metal ones, preferably non-stick, with scallop-shaped indentations. You can find them online or your local supplier.
At the onset, the recipe might look easy and straightforward, but they do need your attention and patience. You just need the staples – eggs, sugar (and honey), flour, butter and flavourings (in this case, vanilla and lemon). It’s knowing the right process and little tips and tricks to get the perfect madeleine. The traditional recipe uses brown butter, but I wanted to keep this simple so I just used plain melted butter. Replacing some of the sugar with honey adds to the flavour and sponginess of the madeleines.
The batter rests for more than an hour to hydrate the flour and allow the butter to congeal so that the hump will form during baking. Some recipes ask for chilling the batter in the fridge, some said at room temperature – I went ahead and kept it on my counter at room temperature for about 90 minutes.
Even though your pan is non-stick, it helps to have a pastry brush and coat the indentations with butter generously. Not only will that help you release the madeleines once baked, but it also imparts a tender buttery flavour to the outside.
These French Madeleines taste best the same day – just warm out of the oven. They tend to dry out and lose their crispness as the days go by, but they still taste amazing when dunked in a cup of tea (personal experience)!
This recipe makes 16-18 madeleines. If you only have one 12-hole pan, keep the remaining batter covered in the fridge till you bake the first batch.
- 100 g unsalted butter – plus additional 20g for brushing into the pan
- 100 g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 2 large eggs
- 80 g caster sugar
- 20 g honey
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp lemon juice – optional
- 1 tsp lemon zest – optional
- Melt the butter and keep aside to cool down to room temperature. Add vanilla, lemon juice and zest once cooled.
- Sift the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and salt. Keep aside.
- In your standing mixer, or using a hand mixer or even just a whisk, whisk together eggs and sugar for about a minutes till you get a foamy mixture. Add the honey and whisk for another 4-5 minutes till your eggs double in volume and you’ve added a lot of air in the mixture.
- Sift the flour mixture into the eggs in 2 parts and gently fold in without losing the volume you just got.
- Take a large spoonful of the batter and add to the room temperature melted butter. Whisk in till they emulsify and well combined. (This will help even mixing of butter into the batter instead of directly pouring the butter in).
- Add the butter into the main bowl and gently fold in till you get a homogenous mixture. Make sure you do not deflate the batter.
- Cover the bowl and keep aside at room temperature for about 90 minutes.
- When about 15 minutes left in your resting time, prepare the pan and preheat your oven to 180C. Take some melted butter and using pastry brush liberally apply it on your pan so that all the indentations are well greased.
- Once your oven is preheated, scoop about 1 tablespoon of batter into centre of each mould. You don’t need to spread the batter around, it’ll bake out into the shape.
- Bake the madeleines at 180C for about 10 minutes till the madeleines get humps in the centre that spring back when gently pressed, and the edges start to turn golden brown.
- Remove the pan from the oven and invert it onto a cooling rack. They should come out easily if you’ve prepped your pan well. Let them cool.
- Store cooled madeleines in an airtight container for a few days. You can also freeze them properly wrapped for a couple of months.