Daily Archives: 13 July 2010


Update: see my January 2018 updated version here

While LondonEats backed the Netherlands to win the World Cup, Spain emerged triumphant, and so in honour of that, today’s post features magdalenas.

These are traditional Spanish cakes, said to originate from Aragon, which are eaten at breakfast with cafe con leche or as an afternoon treat. At first glance these cakes seem reminiscent of French madeleines but there are a number of key differences.

Firstly, they use lemon rather than orange zest in the batter. Next, they are baked in round paper cups (like mini-cupcakes) rather than the fancier shell-shape of madeleines. This means there is less hassle involved, which by now you may or may not have come to realise that I think is a good thing in the kitchen. Less hassle, not more! Finally, and most crucially, as a result of my checking some of my cookbooks, it seems that while magdalenas are now often made using butter, they were originally made with olive oil, which makes perfect sense given the role that this stuff plays in Spanish cuisine. So olive oil it is.

With this knowledge, I hit the kitchen and followed a recipe which based on equal weights of eggs, sugar, flour and olive oil. This might sound a little bit familiar to regular readers (the basic quantities of the Victoria Sponge anyone?).

I find it interesting that essentially the same ingredients combined in a different way can yield such different results. Just shows that what you make can depend as much on what you make as what you have to hand. The recipe I have used also closely follows the method I use for making madeleines, so again, interesting to compare how the use of different ingredients affects the final result.

How were they? Fantastic. I don’t know how authentic they are compared to what you can get hold of in Spain, but they had a delicate lemon flavour and aroma, and the oil means that they are very moist. The crumb is not as fine as for madeleines or a sponge cake, which again is probably due to the oil, but they are waaaay more aromatic. I used extra-virgin olive oil, so the flavour was subtle rather than overwhelming. I also sprinkled granulated sugar on the cakes before cooking, so they formed a crisp, sugary crust on top.

All in all, delicious and different.

To make 12 magdalenas:

• 2 eggs (*)
• zest of one large lemon
• 115g caster sugar (*)
pinch of salt
• 115g self-raising flour
• 115g olive oil (or melted butter, cooled) (*)
• granulated sugar, to sprinkle the tops of the cakes

(*) Weigh the eggs in their shells, and use the same weight of sugar, flour and oil.

Put the eggs, caster sugar, lemon zest and salt in a bowl. Whip for 5 minutes until the mixture becomes light and thick.

Sift the flour. Add to the eggs and stir lightly with a spatula until combined.

Add the olive oil (or cooled liquid butter) and incorporate using a spatula. Let the batter rest in the fridge for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray. Place spoonfuls of the batter into the paper cups, lightly shake the tray to smooth the batter and sprinkle over some granulated sugar (be generous). Bake for around 20 minutes until the cakes are risen and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Worth making? I LOVE these! They take no longer than 10 minutes to make, but they are utterly delicious. Fragrant, moist and delicious. ¡Viva España!


Filed under Recipe, Sweet Things