Madeleines Take the Cake

 

MADELEINESMADELEINES

Madeleines! That wonderful, dense bite of cake that Parisians love. You can make these at home, instead of spending lots of money for average tasting ones in a store.

My Story

Madeleines

This was a find I was willing to pay for.

You all know I am obsessed with Julia Child. I have several of her PBS DVDs. I have the Art of Mastering French Cooking, both volumes. I have Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom. I found a signed copy of ‘The French Chef Cookbook’. It’s not a first edition, but I didn’t care. What did I care about? I was paying for this book (about $150) that was signed by both Julia and Paul Child. It was inscribed to a George, so I made up a story that I got it from a relative named George.

I have a goal this year of trying to make a new recipe each week. I have made a few; some things maybe too complex for this blog (like the croissants that took me 10 hours), or they just haven’t turned out right.

I wanted to learn to make madeleines because I absolutely love them. They can be addictive. I was tired of paying $3 for a set of 3 of them at Starbucks. Plus, I found a story in Bon Appetite magazine about a family who moved to France, and fell in love with these concoctions. Someone was telling me I had to give it a try.

The Madeleines Research

I did a lot of research on madeleines, because if I was going to pay money for a pan that can be only used for one recipe, I better find the perfect recipe. Julia’s cookbooks I have don’t have the madeleines recipe in them. Or if they do, I missed it. So I went to my favorite friend, Google. And found the recipe on a website that had a wonderful story about Julia Child. Here is the recipe. All cooks probably have a story about wanting to cooking like her, or actually meeting her in person, and this woman was no exception. The story was fabulous.

I was a little skeptical about the madeleines recipe I found. It seemed like it was missing something.  A cookie with no baking soda? Or maybe I should say a cake (these are tea cakes, not cookies) that doesn’t use baking powder? That just didn’t seem right. But several authorities had the same recipe. It is supposed to be close to the original one, so I went with it.

madeleines

Here is the pan I got. I think with as much as I love these cakes, worth the price I paid

Now to buy the pan to make these madeleines. At the two cooking stores I frequent (Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma), the pans were $25 for a pan that made 12 cakes. To make the standard two dozen of these madeleines, I would spend $50. I wasn’t sure if I was willing to pay that much if my attempts failed. So I went to Amazon and found them made by Bellmain. At less than half the cost, it would be an expense I could afford if i failed.

The first time I made the madeleines, they turned out perfectly! I am not sure why so many people have trouble making them if you follow the recipe to a T. All I changed was lowering the oven temperature 25 degrees because of the dark coated pan (standard knowledge for true bakers). And even though they were non-stick, I did use the butter/flour mixture to coat the pans, because it added a bit of a crunch to the cake. One person even complained about the hump that was on the finished product. That hump is supposed to be there!

Without further ado, here is the recipe. Just follow it exactly, and you will be fine. Just remember to bring the ingredients to room temperature first.

Julia Child’s Madeleines de Commercy

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs, beaten (depending on the egg size, you might need 3 for the right consistency)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 5 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Grated lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 3 drops of lemon juice

Directions

  1. Combine flour and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Beat 3/4 of the eggs into the flour/sugar with a wooden spoon to make the batter the consistency of heavy cream – if too stiff add a little bit more egg.
  3. Rest 10 minutes. This is key!
  4. Bring all of the butter to a boil until it begins to brown very lightly.
  5. Combine 1 1/2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp flour in a small bowl and set aside.
  6. Stir the remaining butter over a larger pan of cold water until cool & liquidy.
  7. Beat any leftover egg into the batter and stir in the butter.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Cover and put in the refrigerator for one hour.
  8. Right now, coat the Madeleine cups with the extra butter, wiping excess butter.  Refrigerate.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375° (350° for a dark coated pan). Using a small ice cream scoop, drop a rounded Tbsp of batter in each cup.  Do not spread the batter, it will spread as they bake.
  10. Place on the middle rack and bake for about 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven.
  11. Unmold onto a rack, humped side up to cool.
madeleines

The finished product. You want the lighter colored ones, not the darker cakes.

FYI, if you don’t want to buy the specialty madeleine pans (which I highly recommend because that shape is the recognition key, use mini muffin tins.

If you want a printout of the madeleines recipe for your cookbook, click here.

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