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a result of my checking some of my cookbooks, it seems that while magdalenas are now often made using butter, they were originally made with olive oil, which makes perfect sense given the role that this stuff plays in Spanish cuisine.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

18 responses to “Magdalenas

  1. Tes

    Beautiful cupcakes!
    It looks so moist and delicious.
    The recipe seems really simple and easy.

    • @ Tes- thanks, I was really happy with the way these turned out. And with all that olive oil, perhaps I can even claim that they are healthy! I also thought I had to do something to redress the balance in favour of Spain after the World Cup final on Sunday.

  2. Pingback: Pound Cake « LondonEats

  3. MNEH

    I’ve just returned from a couple of weeks in Andalucia, where I cultivated an addiction to Magdalenas 🙂

    I made this recipe about an hour ago and have just had some Magdalenas (dipped in a cup of thick Spanish hot chocolate). The buns were delicious!!! They had a crunchy top with a light, fluffy inside. My husband liked them a lot too, he said he preferred them to the brand we bought in Spain.

    I didn’t have lemon zest so I substituted 1Tbsp of Tesco lemon juice. I’ll be saving this recipe and making these again, often 😀

    • Hi – gosh, I love Andalucia! Glad to hear that these worked out well. People are a bit surprised that they are made with olive oil, but they’re so delicious. Thanks for the tip about using the lemon juice in place of the lemon zest (I tend to end up with lots of lemons in the fridge that have have their zest taken off for other reasons). Happy baking!

  4. Hi, they look really nice but is it an original Spanish recipe? I would love to know its source. Also if you could kindly point out to me the source placing Aragon as the birth place of magdalenas. Thank you!!

    • Hi – I did this one quite a while ago, so I can’t remember where I read about basing the recipe on equal weights of sugar, eggs, flour and olive oil. There do seem to be a few different ways to make these cakes though. I also can’t remember where I read about Aragon as being the (possible) home of magdalenas, but if you check Google, there seem to be a lot of hits for “magdalenas aragoneses“.

  5. This is the spanish version of cupcakes!!
    You can make it with sunflower oil too, the flavour would be more soft than with olive oil. I usually make magdalenas with this oil.

  6. lisa

    Does it have to be caster sugar, or can it be just plain white?

    • Hi Lisa – you can use whatever sugar you like. I think white is normal (either caster or granulated). If you use something like light brown sugar, this will also change the flavour.

      (Sorry I didn’t reply sooner – I’ve been on holiday!)

  7. Sylvia Montgomery

    Hi – I tried these today and they went down well – I made them in mini size muffin tins which was not a good decision, too small. I also used extra virgin Rapeseed oil (as its supposed to be healthier than o/oil. ) which was quite dominant. Next time will use sunflower oil. Was curious as to why they go in the fridge for 2 hours – I did do it but what if I had not? Otherwise will definitely be doing them again. Thank you.

    • Sylvia

      Hi – I tried these today and they went down well – I made them in mini size muffin tins which was not a good decision, too small. I also used extra virgin Rapeseed oil (as its supposed to be healthier than o/oil. ) which was quite dominant. Next time will use sunflower oil. Was curious as to why they go in the fridge for 2 hours – I did do it but what if I had not? Otherwise will definitely be doing them again. Thank you

      • Hi Sylvia – that’s a great question. The fridge is part ritual, part science. I think if you leave the batter to sit, the lemon zest can flavour the batter, and it allows everything to firm up (if you’ve used olive oil). I think chilling the batter makes it easier to work with and the egg in the batter gets a chance to start to “set” in the oven without all the oil sinking to the bottom.

        However…that said…I reckon if you just mix the batter very well you can pop the cakes straight in the oven. I guess it depends how urgently you need cake!

  8. I grew up on magdalenas (among other baked goods) as my gran from Cuenca (Spain) was a baker. Unfortunately she took her recipe to the grave; my mother didn’t think to ask and by the time I was old enough to be interested to learn, her memory wasn’t great. I do know however, that she used butter and not oil but as the Spanish say “Cada maestrillo tiene su librillo” (Each little master has his own little book) similar to the English saying “there is more than one way to skin a cat”.

    • That is such a shame that you didn’t get the recipe from your grandmother! What has struck me recently about traditional baking is just how different it is – very often there is not just one way to make something, and in the UK at least it was apparently the fault of the Victorians, who became obsessed about having standard recipes for everything, and in the process the obliterated a lot of local variations in British baking! But I did also think when I read about the butter that it would be more like French madeleines, so it would actually make more sense than olive oil. I would also imagine that they are a little bit richer and nicer made with butter! Perhaps mine are just fakes… :O

  9. There is never really one unifying recipe that is true to every single family from any culture, especially not in Spain where each region, heck each village, has their own spin on things. A simple example is Spanish paella which even though it is originally from Valencia, each region in Spain has it’s own take on it. Many paella recipes around include green peas or mix meat and seafood, but tell this to a Valencian and they will bite your head off! For me the joy of cooking is doing it your own way to your personal taste and if someone is annoyed about it, who the heck cares? Just make sure you don’t try to pass it off as an authentic traditional recipe that goes back centuries…lol. Yours may be fakes (according to my gran), but were they delicious? I am sure they were, so make them again and send some over!

  10. Zoë

    The absolute best recipe for magdalenas – they’re to die for!

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