Beautiful and tasty madeleines aren’t difficult to make, but they do require a little patience. Here is the ultimate recipe.
First of all, it’s been much too long since I last posted. My head has been filled with France-related research as I have been quite busy with some very interesting assignments. One of them is an article on Monet’s culinary world for Dutch food journal, Bouillon. The quarterly journal features some of the best food writing in the country and publishes intelligent articles which fuse culture with gastronomy. I have written a few articles for them, including one on the food habits of the Dutch during the Golden Age, and one on the influence Dutch colonists had on New Netherland. Writing these articles is always a joy. I am a huge nerd and delight in spending weeks (if not months) researching a subject I am deeply passionate about. There is almost a sense of euphoria at the very end, when the research is behind me and the article is written.
The interesting thing is that I can also spend an incredible amount of time researching food items. Especially the French kind. You see, in France, almost everything edible has a rich history just begging to be discovered. And that is why I love being the culinary columnist for France magazine En Route. Cheeses, Bresse chicken, quiche, Dijon mustard, escargots, caramel au beurre salé, prunes and much more — each one of these French foods has seen me through the depths of some of the most delicious research, discovering interesting recipes… and uncovering truths. PS: Can we please stop giving Henri Le Roux the credit for inventing caramel au beurre salé? And writing ‘canelés’ on menus or recipes if we mean ‘cannelés’? There is a difference!
THE ULIMATE RECIPE
Before delving into the world of Monet, I spent some time researching madeleines, those round-bellied little cakes from Commercy which we all know from Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Alas, my findings will be published in the summer issue of En Route, so I won’t be telling you much just yet. The recipe, however, is begging to be shared. Before doing so, let me first say that this is a highly improved version of a recipe I shared in the past. In fact, I dare call it the ultimate recipe. As I was watching a cooking show on 24Kitchen last Saturday called Goe Gebakken (Well Baked), I sort of flinched when I saw Wim Ballieu produce little cakes which were definitely not madeleines. No belly whatsoever. And no belly means no madeleine. Period.
(Makes about 2 dozen)
- 175g butter, melted and cooled
- 245g all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsps baking powder
- Pinch of salt (preferably fleur de sel)
- 4 eggs
- 200g granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 organic lemon
- 3 tbsp ground almonds
Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add in the salt. 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. Fold the flour through the eggs and sugar, then add the lemon zest, ground almonds and butter, and fold in gently. Leave In the fridge for 24 hours. The next day, grease the madeleine tray generously with butter and dust with flour. Fill the madeleine shells ¾ full and pop in fridge for about an hour. Preheat your oven to 220°C, pop the tray in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 180°C. Bake the madeleines for about 8-12 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.