Madeleines are classic French little cakes that originated from Commercy and Liverdun, two communes of the Lorraine region in northeastern France. They are baked in shell-shaped molds which creates a flat bottom and the very characteristic bump.
The shape makes a difference because it gives the pastry different textures. The bottom of the cake is baked in direct contact with the mold and is crunchy and well caramelised. The edges are relatively flat and firmer in texture and the center is well-risen, moist, and soft.
However, it´s much more technical to achieve this shape than just using the right mold. There are 4 things to keep in mind.
First of all is the preparation of the batter. The eggs are whipped with the sugar, honey, and lemon zest to a frothy consistency. This process incorporates air into the batter that expands during baking and makes the cakes rise.
Secondly, the batter needs to be prepared ahead for a minimum of 12 hours. Keeping the batter refrigerated “pre-rises” the batter. Baking powder reacts to heat, but also to humidity. In this case, the batter provides the humidity.
The third aspect is to create a thermal shock. Freezing the greased mold, piping the cold batter into the mold, and baking it in the preheated oven at a relatively high temperature gives the batter a lift. For this reason, it´s also better to use a metal mold instead of a silicone mold because metal cools faster in the freezer and transfers the heat of the oven better.
The last point is to not overfill the molds. This way the madeleine doesn´t spread horizontally but rises in the center.
The following recipe is adapted from the recipe book “Ladurée: The Sweet Recipes”.
- 90 g butter melted
- 87 g all purpose flour
- 5 g baking powder
- 100 g eggs approx. 2 medium sized eggs
- 1 pcs. lemon zest only
- 80 g sugar
- 17 g honey
- additional flour and butter for the mold
- 1. Melt the butter until just melted. Set aside.2. Sift together flour and baking powder.3. Zest the lemon with the microplane into a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, sugar and honey. Whisk until pale and frothy.4. Fold in the flour and baking powder mixture, then the melted butter.5. Transfer into an air-tight container and store in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours.
- 6. Preheat the oven to 200°C conventional oven.
- 7. Grease the mold with melted butter with a pastry brush. Store in the freezer for 10 minutes until the butter is frozen and the mold is well chilled.
- 8. Dust the mold with flour and remove excess flour by flipping the mold upside down and tapping it on a piece of parchment paper.
Dusting the mold and flipping it onto a piece of parchment paper makes it easier to collect excess flour afterwards.
- 9. Transfer the batter into a piping bag and pipe into the mold.
- 10. Bake on a baking sheet until well risen and golden brown. 11. Transfer the mold onto a cooling rack and allow to cool slightly before removing the madeleines from the mold.