Madeleines are small delectable French cakes that go well with tea or coffee. They are often served at cafes and French bakeries.
Madeleines are small French cakes that consist of flour, butter, sugar, and eggs. The origin of the cakes is up for debate. Some say that they were first created in Commercy around 1730 and was brought to Versailles and then to Paris by Stanislas Leczinski. It was said that Stanislas Leczinski, father-in-law to Louis XV, favored the cakes and brought them into high fashion. The madeleine recipe was a secret in Commercy for a long time. Madeleines are considered one of the finest food specialties of the town. It was rumored that the pastry-makers of Commercy eventually sold the recipe for a large sum of money. A different authority said that madeleines were invented by the great pastry-cook, Avice, when he worked for Prince Talleyrand. Avice had the idea to use a quatre-quarts (French pound cake) or tôt fait (baked custard and fruit) mixture to make tiny cakes baked in an aspic mold.
Madeleines have always been a favorite treat of mine. My father would buy them from the bakery section of the grocery store and we would delightfully devour the buttery cookie-like cakes. As I got older I tried madeleines at French bakeries and found that they were superior to the store bought kind. It was then I realized I had to make them for myself so I could have that bakery fresh taste at home. I went to the library and looked at books about French style baking. I read about the secrets to eclairs, tarts, and mille-feiulle, but for some reason I could not find any recipes for madeleines. The search stopped for a while because I did not even have a madeleine pan anyway. Luckily, a year later my sister-in-law gifted me one. Then the search for a madeleine recipe continued.
I went through my French cookbooks at my home library. I combed index after index for a madeleine recipe and found nothing. I began to lose hope when I remembered I had a copy of Larousse Gastronomique. Larousse Gastronomique is an encyclopedia of gastronomy by Prosper Montagné. It is all about French cuisine and consists of cooking techniques and recipes for French dishes. It is a wealth of knowledge. I was lucky enough to have found it in a free book bin in great condition. I recognized the title from a scene in one of my favorite movies, Julie & Julia. Meryl Streep plays Julia Child and her husband Paul (played by Stanley Tucci) gifts her Larousse Gastronomique as a present because she wants to learn about French cooking. The copy I found myself was one of the earlier English translated editions of the original 1938 French edition, so I was ecstatic. These were the same recipes and techniques that Julia Child would have studied.
When I looked under the M section of Larousse Gastronomique I found not one, but two recipes for madeleines. I felt as though I had hit the jackpot! I tested out the recipe and realized that madeleines are actually really easy to make. I thought they would be this very daunting and complicated task, but they were no more difficult to make than a standard drop cookie. I put my own spin on the classic madeleine recipe and I think you will like it. Please enjoy!
Plain Madeleines (Madeleines Ordinaires)
Makes 36 cookies (3 dozen)
Specialty tools: Madeleine pan (nonstick), sieve, electric mixer
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Drink Pairing Suggestion: Tea
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
All purpose flour for dusting
Butter or spray for greasing
Preheat oven to 375 F
Flour and grease the madeleine pan, set aside.
In a large bowl, add eggs and sugar, lightly stir.
Put sieve over the large bowl, pour in flour and salt. Sieve the flour and salt gently into the large bowl.
Pour in the vanilla extract.
Stir all the ingredients together, using an electric mixer. Mix until smooth.
Pour in the melted butter and mix until well incorporated.
Spoon batter into madeleine molds, about two-thirds full.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until edges are brown and the madeleines spring back a little when touched.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To get the madeleines out of the molds simply shake/tap the pan so the madeleines fall out onto the baking sheet. They can cool on the baking sheet or on a cooling rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a cup of tea!
DID YOU MAKE THIS DISH?
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Montagné, Prosper. Larousse gastronomique: the encyclopedia of food, wine & cookery, Ed. Charlotte Turgeon and Nina Froud. New York, Crown Publishers, 1961. The English translation of the 1938 edition.