“She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called “petites madeleines,” which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell… I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses…
And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray…when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Leonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane…and the whole of Combray and its surrounds, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and garden alike, from my cup of tea.” – Marcel Proust, “In Search of Lost Time, Volume I: Swann’s Way”
While madeleines appear, and, I think, are often mistaken, as cookies that are baked in a molded pan, they are actually small, delicate cakes, originating from France. Their flavour is similar, but generally lighter, to sponge cake. Aside from the traditional madeleine pan, which gives the cakes their unique shape – flat on one side, and rounded shell-like shape on the other – no other special equipment is required. (Madeleine pans can be found in most kitchenware stores; sizes of the actual molds vary from short, almost square-like shell shapes to elongated ones such as mine.) Because of their size, they’re perfect for having with tea, or for those moments when a cake craving arises but we may not necessarily want a whole slice or suchlike. They’re also very portable. I’ve also made cinnamon madeleines, which can be made by adding 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract; baking for the same amount of time as the lemon variety.
When plying out the madeleines, I recommend plying them out from the rounded side.
[July 2010 Update: this recipe is also available in the Cook IT Allergy Free app, available from iTunes]
Makes 10 madeleines
1/2 cup honey
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 cup almond flour
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Liberally grease the madeleine molds using vegetable or coconut oil (the greasier, the easier to ply out later – an important and crucial factor to observe, to ensure easy removal of the cakes when done.) Mix all the ingredients together, wet ingredients first and adding almond flour last, to make batter. Fill the molds.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until fully baked. The madeleines will be soft; cool before removing from pans otherwise they may appear crumbly (see image below). Gently ply them out of the mold with a butter knife or a large spoon. Enjoy!
For a further history of madeleines, see also: