Is there a madeleine pan in your cupboard collecting dust? Don't have one? Consider investing in one or two so that you can enjoy this tasty and pretty treat with morning or afternoon coffee or tea.

Madeleines are a traditional "small cake" from France. For many, these treats are forever connected to Marcel Proust and his reflections on "taste memory" in "In Search of Lost Time". In truth, I have never had a madeleine in France or from a French Bakery, but this is how Wikipedia describes them - "The flavour is similar to, but somewhat lighter than, sponge cake. Traditional recipes include very finely ground nuts, usually almonds. A variation uses lemon zest, for a pronounced lemony taste." This recipe gets all three check-marks so I am going to assume it is pretty close to the authentic experience.

I have several madeleine recipes. This one is from a 2008 Canadian Living magazine, and also appears online. A neat feature of the online site is a serving calculator - easily adjusting the recipe for half or more. I also tried a recipe for chocolate madeleines, but found them to be rather "cake-y" and dry so (for now) am not taking time to share that recipe here. David Lebovitz, residing in Paris, has dependable recipes, and maybe one day I'll try his approach - which uses flour, not almond meal/flour. David describes the characteristic hump that is supposed to appear on the smooth side. He also talks about freezing the molds/pans and chilling the batter - none of which I did - yet I am still happy with my outcomes and have made this recipe many times now.

These taste best fresh, the same day - though they hold up pretty well stored in the fridge and brought to room temperature for serving. At first I used a mixer to combine the wet ingredients, but it seems to work just as well to do all the whisking by hand. These come together surprisingly fast - especially when you've done your prep ahead of time.

Getting ready: Preheat oven to 350 F; melt butter; grease / lightly spray pans.

in the smaller of two bowls, whisk together flour, sugar, almonds, and salt. Set aside.

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup ground almonds/ almond flour (see Notes)
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, butter, lemon, lime and orange zests, and vanilla. 

3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp each grated lemon, lime and orange rind
1/4 tsp vanilla

Whisk dry mixture into wet mixture. Do not over-mix!

Spoon by heaping tablespoon into each mold of two lightly greased 12-mold madeleine pans. I fill one pan and put it into the oven and fill the second while the first is baking. Bake in centre of 350 F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Do not over-bake. They nicely slide / flip out when done. The ridges come from the pan, and the top side should puff up into a hump - so these won't "lay flat" on your serving tray.

3/4 cup icing sugar
1 TB lemon juice

Combine, using more lemon juice or more icing sugar, if necessary, to get ideal consistency.

Notes and Tips...

  • Prep baking tins - the original recipe says "well greased" but my pans seem to be non-stick, so I simply give them a quick spray with cooking/baking spray - the kind with no flour.  When they are done, I tip the baking tins and they pretty much just slide out onto the cooling rack
  • Mix - at first I used a mixer to combine the wet ingredients, but it seems to work just as well to do all the whisking by hand. Do not over-mix.
  • Salt - I still have not pulled together all my notes on salt - but in baking, to achieve the desired sodium level, it is best to use either table salt or Diamond Crystal salt - not coarse kosher salt. One teaspoon of kosher salt does not equal the same level of sodium as one teaspoon of table salt.
  • Almonds - I find that ground almonds from the bulk section is more coarse than almond flour from Bob's Red Mill. Have made this with both - no noticeable difference. I now also have on hand very fine almond flour from - will try that with the next batch.
  • Butter - melted yes, but cool to room temperature before adding to eggs
  • Grating zest - see my tips on tools and techniques for this.
  • Scooping - for portioning batter into pans I always use my disher scoops.  My purple handled scoop is 20 ml - perfect for portioning a "heaping tablespoon" of batter. This almost always works perfectly for me - though once I ended up with 23 instead of 24. Drop the batter into the mold and/ but there is no need to attempt to spread it around. Once in the oven, it quickly finds it's place and settles down. 
  • Oven rack position - this recipe specifies rack in the middle, although David Lebovitz says he prefers the rack to be upper middle.
  • Bake time - recommended is 12-15, but in my oven these are ready in 11 minutes.
  • Applying glaze - I never fuss with brushing glaze on. Instead I make the glaze in a small bowl with a narrow bottom and then I can easily dip the cookie into the glaze and rest it on a rack to settle. The madeleines do need to be cooled before icing.
  • Glaze and other options - as David Lebovitz says, you can enjoy these "nekkid", or sprinkled with icing sugar, or even with a drizzle of chocolate
  • Make ahead: the original recipe suggests storage in an air-tight container for 24 hours, and also says these can be frozen for one week.

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