Madeleines are something that I hadn’t discovered for a very long time. It was nearly 6 years ago that I bit into the very first madeleine of my life. I had them at a Starbucks outlet in Denver Colorado that I was visiting for training on a project assignment. Along with a few colleagues we would drive down around 4 pm from work to pick up Chai lattes and “French Madeleines” as they were called. I considered them to be soft shell-shaped vanilla cakes. Over the years I have tried madeleines in lots of new places – cafes, artisan bakeries, Starbucks again – with most of them being in Singapore. Every time I taste a better and well baked madeleine, than the first Starbucks madeleine in Denver, I realize that those were not the very best I have had. No surprises there. Since Starbucks packs them up in tiny plastic squares, I feel by the time they reach a consumer like me they are no longer “fresh and warm out of the oven”.
So I am thrilled to share this recipe post to make the perfect madeleines that even a not so experienced baker can master – spongy inside, with the thin crisp crust forming outside along with the bump on top (often called the nipple of a madeleine) that signifies the perfection in baking them. Ofcourse thanks to Gordon Ramsay whose recipe I found the easiest in terms of measurements as well as technique. Ask any baker how exciting it is to get the softness and bump in them. Clotilde from C&Z also talks about the art of perfecting the bump in her recent post on “Perfect Madeleines” and you can clearly see how excited she is when she see the bumps being formed as they bake 🙂
It all started when I was smitten recently by the lemon blueberry madeleine I ate at Chai Times one evening. It is one of the newer treats they have added to their menu. (Yes Chai Times is one of my favorite tea time places in Singapore and you can read all about it in my previous post ). So of course I took it upon me to try to bake the very first madeleine in our home kitchen 🙂 . Further I was glad that I had picked up a small madeleine baking tray on one of those shopping trips when you love all the baking supplies on display and want to buy them all. So I did have the most essential item for baking madeleines waiting to be used.
Hence for the novice madeleine baker like me, I decided to consult the experienced in this field. By that I mean the bloggers, cooks, celeb chefs and food writers whom I look up to for their wealth of knowledge, experience and skills that they have developed in the culinary world. I finally settled on the technique and recipe advice from Chef Ramsay. Here is the YouTube video on “Lemon&Poppy Seeds Madeleines” you can watch to see what I mean. Further after I had baked them, I was thrilled to see David Lebovitz, one of my favorite bloggers, talking about baking madeleines over at “Tasting Table” . On a side note I must add that My Paris Kitchen has been getting such rave reviews around the globe that I really need to get my copy soon. Think I am way behind on getting my copies of the trending new books in the food world. 😦
Anyway back to baking madeleines – I pretty much followed Chef Ramsay’s recipe except that I added chia seeds instead of poppy seeds that his recipe calls for (Awesome idea on adding chia seeds from my husband who really has a great palette). Further I also pushed in 2-3 fresh blueberries in each madeleine mould while pouring in the batter.
Some notes on baking madeleines for the inexperienced like me:
– Melt the butter to mix in the batter of eggs, sugar and flour. Unlike creaming butter and sugar first as it is done in cakes, we need to have a liquid melted butter that should not be too warm.
– You don’t need an electric beater – Just a spatula and bowl for mixing will do.
– Once the batter is prepared, it should be chilled in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours. Better still chill overnight. Chilling it overnight helps get the bump or the “nipple” in the madeleine once baked Since the baking time is only about 12-15 min, bake them fresh in the morning for breakfast if you are looking for the occasional sweet indulgence in the morning.
– Follow the technique of brushing melted butter on the madeleine pan and dusting some flour before pouring the batter and once baked the madeleines instantly pop out.
– I used lime juice and zest of one lime. Try using oranges, lemons, grape fruits or any other citrus fruits of your choice.
– Also to get the shell like shapes, you will need the madeleine baking tray.
Makes 12 small madeleines (size of mine as can be seen below)
80 grams self-raising flour
80 grams melted unsalted butter
50 grams sugar*
3 free range eggs at room temperature
Zest of one lime
Juice of 1 lime
A scoop of chia seeds
1 spoon vanilla extract
In a bowl crack the eggs and beat in with the sugar. Add in the self-raising flour. Slowly pour in the melted butter. Stir vigorously to form a homogeneous batter. Then add in the vanilla extract, lime zest and juice. Add in chia seeds. Stir well until all combined and refrigerate atleast 3-4 hours (preferably overnight).
Dust and butter the madeleine baking tray, before baking them. Pour the batter in each mold not up to the brim, since they will rise while baking. At this stage also add in the blueberries as you like. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree centigrade for 12-15 min.
*I used very less sugar and if you prefer a nice sweet taste add in about 80 grams of sugar instead of 50 grams.
These bake quickly and will brown once done. They have a slight baked crust on top and are soft cake like inside. I would call it a cross between a chewy cookie and cake. The thing I like most about them is that you can prepare the batter way in advance and can keep popping them in the oven to bake as you like. They can be served along breakfast, brunch or tea as the sweet yet not so sweet indulgence.
In fact this version with blueberries and chia seeds reduced my guilt of having something cakey first thing in the morning with my cup of coffee :). These madeleines with their juicy blueberries bursting with flavor and color along with the soft buttery crust can be served plain warm out of the oven with coffee/juice or with some fresh fruit compote/preserve of your choice. Do give them a try.
What combinations will you want to bake besides the classic vanilla madeleine? Maybe the French may not like these concoctions but I can think of the following :
raspberries + chocolate/cacao
blueberries + poppy seeds
Lemon + honey
Ginger + honey
Almonds + lemongrass
Do let me know if you like madeleines and what flavors? Have you baked them and what has been your experience?