Classic old-fashioned madeleines

Oct 19, 2021
They mightn't be difficult to make, but madeleines certainly command your attention, patience and precision. Source: Getty Images

I’ve always admired the fancy presentation of madeleines, but it has also put me off a bit when it comes to wanting to make them. However, I recently learned that looks can be deceiving and it takes but a few basic ingredients to create these delightful airy tea cakes. I also learned that while they aren’t difficult to make, once you start you’d better be paying attention because it takes precision and a bit of patience to get them right!

Add a bit of lemon zest and dust in icing sugar, and these buttery scallops are certainly worth the effort. Imagine the look or admiration you’ll get from guests when you present them on a plate for your afternoon tea.

Makes 18-20.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (plus another 2 tbsp for the pan)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sifted plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Method

  1. Melt butter (microwave or stove top is fine) and set aside to slightly cool as you prepare the rest of the batter.
  2. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat eggs and sugar together on high speed for at least 8 minutes. The mixture should be thick, pale, and form ribbons when you lift the beaters. Add lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat until combined. The remaining ingredients will be mixed by hand.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold into egg mixture. Instead of dumping it all in at once, carefully folding in half the flour mixture, then fold in the other half. The batter is very delicate so handle with care.
  4. Stir 1/4 cup of batter into the melted butter. It will take a minute to fully incorporate. Then stir it all into the rest of the batter. The batter will be thick, silky, and shiny.
  5. Cover batter and chill in the refrigerator for between 30 minutes and 1 hour. Try not to chill any longer as the butter in the batter will begin to solidify.
  6. Preheat oven to 180C.
  7. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the madeleine pan with melted butter.
  8. The batter will be quite airy and spongy after resting. Do not try to deflate it. Spoon 1 generous tablespoon of batter into the center of each scalloped well. No need to spread it to the edges. Cover and refrigerate remaining batter if you do not have two madeleine pans to bake the batter all at once.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The madeleines are done when the tops spring back after lightly pressed with your finger. Invert the pan onto the counter. Transfer warm madeleines to a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, dust madeleines with icing sugar before serving.

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