Tag: French baking

Madeleines (with VIDEO!)

“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.



Pain d’épices… and Baking to Soothe a Heavy Heart

Pain d'épicesWithout going into a whine fest (I’d much rather have a ‘wine’ fest), things have been rough lately. Our beautiful dog Pastis has been very ill for the past two weeks, and some days it has been so bad, that we were fearing he wouldn’t make it. He’s chronically ill and had a terrible relapse. I was so hopeful he would not get sick again. The last time was more than a year ago. I’ve lost count of the vet visits, emergency trips to the animal hospital in Amsterdam, medicines and days in pain for him — and in tears for me. As I write this, he’s sleeping quietly. I don’t know if it’s a good sleep or if it’s the effect of the two shots he had yesterday. I’m just happy he’s not in pain. And I’m keeping my finger crossed he’ll pull through.
This morning, after a good night’s sleep (it’s been a while), I decided I needed to get in the kitchen and bake. Create. Revel in the joy of stirring, tasting, smelling. Letting go of the stress as I made something — not for work, but purely for me. Kitchen therapy is a very real, and very effective remedy for a heavy heart. And sharing my kitchen experiments makes it all the better.