On a roadtrip through the south of France a few years ago, we decided to stop at a bakery somewhere between Orange and Avignon. I stepped inside the bakery with Kirstie (who’s always in for a treat), and she immediately spotted a thick, pale cookie studded with nuggets of chocolate. She had to try them, and of course, so did I.
“She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, 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, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate, a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses…”
That’s how Marcel Proust described the little cakes in his book Remembrance of Things Past. A sponge-like cookie/cake that has its own place in French literature, and is so delicious, too. What’s not to love about madeleines? Did I mention that baking them is a joy? Easy to make, and they leave your house full of the heavenly scent of butter and vanilla. Enjoy! PS: Hope you liked the film — be sure to subscribe!
Makes about 2 dozen madeleines
- 175 g butter, melted and cooled
- 245g all-purpose flour
- pinch of salt (preferably fleur de sel)
- 4 eggs
- 200g granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp ground almonds
Grease the madeleine tray with butter and dust with flour. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale. I usually do this in my Kitchen Aid mixer but a handheld mixer should work just fine. Add the vanilla extract to the cooled butter. Fold the flour through the eggs and sugar, then fold in the butter and vanilla and finally the ground almonds. Fill the madeleine shells ¾ full and pop in fridge for about an hour. Preheat your oven to 190°C and bake the madeleines for about 8-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the tiny cakes spring back when gently pressed in the center. Cool on a wire rack before serving. You can experiment with lots of different flavors. Lemon zest is very common and used in many recipes, for example.
To me, baking cookies is an essential part of the holidays. I’m not really partial to the fancy kind. Inste
ad, I prefer baking simple sugar cookies which can be decorated in a million different ways. I wrote this recipe years ago, and have shared it a few time, though not on this blog yet. It has really become a holiday favorite at my house. and I think you will like it too. Perfect for the weekend! Happy baking!