Petite Madeleine

On Sundays, I like preparing afternoon tea. I love spending time making petit fours or just a simple cake to go with our tea.

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Last Sunday I made Madeleines. A traditional cake from the Commercy community in the region of Lorraine in northeastern France. I’ve made this countless times and I am in love with them. They are traditionally baked in a shell shaped pan and has this distinct bump on them.

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I make mine usually with lemon zest but orange also works perfectly. The first bite gives you that soft moist crumble followed by the hint of the sweet tangy lemon flavour.

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Perfect with tea.

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In his novel “Remembrance of Things Past”, Marcel Proust wrote about the Madeleines.

“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, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. … Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? … And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.”

I have to admit, I haven’t read the novel. I just love baking Madeleines. 🙂

I’m sharing my recipe for this yummy perfect little cakes.

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French Madeleines

125 g sugar
110 g all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
2 L egg, room temperature
110 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
butter for mold

Prepare your mice en place

Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl stirring with a spoon to blend.
Add the zest. Stir in the eggs, mixing just to combine. You do not want to incorporate too much air into the batter. Finally, stir in the butter.

Cover the bowl with plastic film and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until well chilled. The chilling is important, as it make the batter easier to pipe and ensures a higher rise during baking.

At this point the batter may be stored, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days.

Butter the Madeleine mold. If you don’t have the shell shaped mold, a mini cupcake mold works too. But it would be best to have the traditional Madeleine mold.

Preheat the oven to 205* C (400*F).

Immediately transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe it into the prepared mold.

Bake the Madeleine for about 7 minutes, or until the cakes spring back in the center when lightly touched.

Unmold into wire racks to cool slightly.

Serve warm or within a few hours.


Other flavourings, such as ground spices, nuts, or extracts may be used in place of the lemon zest.

Madeleines are best served warm, shortly after being baked. They do not keep well.

The baked cakes should have a distinctive hump on the center top, be lightly browned around the edges, and have a strong lemon flavour.

It should be only slightly sweet. And this recipe is just perfect.

Remember, Madeleines are usually served rounded side up. 🙂

Try this next Sunday. Treat yourself. Enjoy and let me know how it turns out.




2 thoughts on “Petite Madeleine

  1. digging this recipe, it’s super easy to follow. I’m much more of a cook than a baker, so reading these things are always tough for me, but I really like what you did!

    You mention other spices, nuts, or extrats instead of lemon zest, what would you recommend?


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