Menton (a town in France) Style Lemon Flavoured Madeleines.
- Date: December, 2011.
- Place: Le Cordon Bleu, Paris.
- Mission: Learn how to make traditional “Pastisseries Regionales” (regional pastries).
This was the message on the inside of the Anniversary card my Husband gave me announcing that I would be going to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris for two weeks of intensive cooking classes.
Madeleines were one of the many things I learnt, however as I did not own a madeleine tray, I have not made them since returning home. Last week I spent a week in Melbourne and whilst walking through one of its many lanes and arcades, I found a shop that was so packed full of all things baking, it looked as though everything was flowing out of the shop door, into the arcade like too much batter in a cake tin. The isles inside where so close together you had to walk side-on. I was in heaven; walking around, jealously wanting everything, ooh-ing and aah-ing, and then, right in the back corner, I saw it…a madeleine tray!…made in France no less!
I bought it and took it back to my hotel room, taking photos of it as a souvenir, and then realised I would have to get it home on the plane! Not trusting our hardworking baggage handlers to treat it gently if packed into my check-in baggage, I proudly walked onto the plane carrying it as cabin luggage.
Our Chef in Paris told us a story (of which, of course, there are many) on how the madeleine got its name. Try reading the following story out-loud in a very thick, strong, French accent … J …
“A certain Duke wanted cake and he wanted it NOW. Realising that there was no way he would wait over an hour for it without all the kitchen staff losing their heads – literally! – one of the kitchen maids quickly threw some well-buttered, scallop shells filled with a little Genoese cake batter into the oven for bite sized pieces of cake, and served them to the Duke, still warm. Having never seen them before he was expecting them to be named something exotic. When he asked what they were, she answered “Cake Sire” (in French of course!). That was too plain for a Dukes table, so he asked for her name. “Madeleine Sire”.
“Then they shall be called ‘Madeleines’.”.”
- 4 eggs
- 170g sugar
- 2g lemon peel
- 20ml lemon juice
- 1g fine grain salt
- 5g baking powder
- 190g flour
- 200g butter, melted
- Melt butter and set aside to cool down somewhat.
- Mix eggs and sugar together (do not whisk) in a medium sized bowl.
- Add zest and lemon juice and mix.
- Add flour and baking powder and mix.
- Add melted butter and mix.
- Place batter in the fridge, uncovered, for 2-3 hours to rest.
- When you are ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 180oC and butter the madeleine moulds very well. Be liberal with it!
- Place batter into a piping bag and fill mould 2/3 full. Place trays in the oven to cook and then as Chef would say… “Take them out when they are ready” (about 20-25 mins but watch them!) They should have a little head/bump/nipple and be golden brown but not dark.
- Take out of the moulds, cool on a rack covered with a clean tea-towel so you don’t get lines and arrange on a pretty serving plate.
- For extra indulgence they can be brushed with melted butter and rolled in caster sugar whilst still warm, or simply dusted with icing sugar when completely cool.
- Get all the ingredients ready first so that you can add them in quick succession as the lemon peel and juice have an acid level of about PH2 and will start to cook the eggs, so mixing it in quickly prevents a change in the product.
- Don’t whisk the eggs, just mix to dissolve the sugar a little as air in the eggs makes the cake dry.
- Melting the butter to a hazelnut colour (‘beurre noisette’) will also add colour and a nutty flavour to the cakes, but don’t make it too dark or it will become bitter.
- Make sure you have washed the lemon well before zesting to remove all waxes and pesticides etc.
- Ideally, the cake batter should sit in the fridge overnight, uncovered, so that it dries out and matures a little.
- Beaten egg mixtures/batters will need butter and flour in the mould but as the eggs in this recipe have only been mixed, the moulds only need butter….or as our Chef would say… “Double butter!”
- If your flour is old, it may need sifting twice. Buy small quantities of flour so it is fresher each time. It can go off because of enzymes, bacteria, pantry moth etc.
- If you have a non-stick tray, don’t butter it, as the crumb will gain too much colour before the centres are cooked.
- Of course if you don’t have a piping bag you can just spoon the mixture into the moulds and if you don’t have a madeleine mould, they will work in a cupcake tray but you obviously won’t have the right shape and the bump will not be as pronounced, but they will still taste as divine.