Hi guys! It's been a while since I've written and published recipes online, and I'm happy to announce I've decided to get back to it! I'll try to vary the skill levels and equipment requirements for the recipes so everyone can utilize them. This week we'll be making French madeleines! This recipe requires no mixer. We're looking for a characteristic madeleine "bump" paired with a light crumb.
Believed to have originated around the 18th century in Commercy, France, there are conflicting stories of their creation: in one version, nuns supposedly sold the pastries to support their convents, and in another a young girl named Madeleine baked them for an exiled Polish king in Lorraine. One thing is always agreed on: they came from France. You'll find a lot of my recipes and tastes have a heavy French influence; I've always admired French pastry, and I was lucky enough to relish in it for an entire year living abroad in Paris.
These fluffy little cakes are not difficult to make, but you will need a madeleine pan if you wish to achieve their typical seashell shape. Silicon or steel pans will both do the trick (I recommend the latter). Comprised of the simplest of ingredients, you can mix these up in about 30 minutes and bake them the same day. The most important factor for the madeleines to be successful is a proper rest. Once liquid and wheat flour are mixed, they begin to develop a gluten network which continues growing while resting, regardless of whether or not it's actually being physically mixed. This rest should also take place in the fridge to give it a good chill. The longer the rest, the stronger the gluten network becomes, helping the bump reach it's full potential. (Thanks to my dear bread baking queen/friend Reva for helping me figure this out.) The pan shape also promotes the bump because the batter is pooled in the center of each mold, making it deepest in the center, which means there's more batter to push through when the butter evaporates during baking.
Notes From Testing
Leavening: Baking powder is a non-traditional addition, but helps the madeleines rise, especially with this recipe since we aren't using an electric mixer to incorporate extra air.
Flours: While not required, a mix of cake and all purpose flour ensured a light, fluffy interior.
Pan temperature: while both a hot pan and a cold pan produced fine results, a cold pan was favored for safety purposes.
Flavorings: Minor additions such as matcha (2 tsp), cocoa powder (2 tbsp, minus 1 tbsp flour from recipe), lemon zest (1-2 tsp) and other flavors gave the madeleines more "oomph" and didn't change results too noticeably.
Rest time: A one hour rest was found to be the minimum requirement for any sort of bump formation, although this one wouldn't win any awards. Two and three hours of resting didn't show much improvement. Six hours showed a drastic jump, more than double the height of the first test, and an overnight rest showed the largest bump.
Base recipe adapted from The Guardian.
Makes 12-16 madeleines in a 3" pan
1 stick butter, unsalted
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cake flour (or sub with more all purpose flour)
2 eggs (room temp)
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Brown the butter in a small pot over medium heat for 5-7ish minutes. Stir often and keep an eye on it; once it starts browning it will continue heating rapidly. Set aside to cool.
2. Add eggs, granulated sugar, and salt to a large mixing bowl. Whisk heavily for 2 minutes. The mixture should become visibly paler.
3. Whisk in honey, vanilla, and any other flavorings at this point.
4. Rest a large sieve directly over the mixing bowl and sift in the flours and baking powder. Fold in the ingredients with a spatula, just until no more flour streaks are visible. Empty into a container with a lid and refrigerate until cold throughout, 4 - 24 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 350° F. Brush the madeleine pans with butter and sift flour over each mold. Shake excess over the trash and pop the pan in the freezer until the oven is ready (at least 5 minutes).
6. Scoop about 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into each mold (if smaller pan, just fill each shell about 3/4 full). Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, for 10 minutes. If needed, rotate and bake another 3-4 minutes, until golden brown.
7. Remove from oven and carefully loosen from hot pan with a butterknife before it cools too much. Serve with coffee or tea!