Tag Archives: Madeleines

{10} Gingerbread Madeleines

After making lots of complicated bakes in the last few weeks, I wanted to have a go at something seasonal yet simple. So I’ve taken my standard recipe for making madeleines, and adapted it to give them a gingerbread-like flavour. I’ve swapped out the orange zest for clementine zest, and added a whole lot of spices.

I’ve also broken one of my own cardinal rules – I never normally bother with any decoration on madeleines, mainly because their shape is already so pretty. However, I love a good coating of icing on gingerbread, so I’ve given them a light glaze to add some sweetness and highlight the ridges on the shell pattern. Beyond this…they’re just plain and simple madeleines, easy to whip up at short notice and really rather delicious.

gingerbreadmadelaines

To make gingerbread madeleines (makes 18):

• 85 grams butter
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 2 large eggs
• 40g white caster sugar
• 40g dark muscovado sugar
• Zest of 1 orange or clementine
• 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 80g plain flour
• 30g ground almonds
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• Large pinch salt

1. Melt the butter and honey in a saucepan. Put to one side and allow to cool.

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

3. Mix the flour, ground almonds, spices, salt and baking powder and sift. Add the flour mixture to the eggs and stir lightly with a spatula until combined.

4. Add the cooled liquid butter and incorporate using a spatula. Let the batter rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

5. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place spoonfuls of the batter into madeleine moulds and bake for around 12 minutes (until the tops are golden and the characteristic bumps have appeared).

6. Once cooked, remove from the oven. When the silicone tray is cool enough to work with, press each madeleine out the the tray. Move to a cooling rack, and dust the shell side of each with icing sugar.

7. If you want to glaze the madeleines: put 50g icing sugar in a bow and add warm water, a teaspoon at a time, until you have a thick but flowing consistency. Brush onto the madeleines and leave on a wire tray to dry.

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Cardamom, Lemon and Olive Oil Madeleines

It’s the latter part of February, but we still sit under those leaden skies and cold light. All quite conducive to staying in and potting around a nice warm house!

This is a recipe that I came up with on a quiet afternoon. It’s based on a few signature ingredients that I thought would complement each other. Simple as that. The cakes themselves are a combination of traditional madeleines and olive oil magdelenas.

I also added the cardamom as I thought its citrus resin flavour  would work well with the fresh lemon and the spiciness of the olive oil. The result? Well, very happy to report  – they taste just great! Now, I fully accept that these are a bit far away from “proper”madeleines, but a little creativity in the kitchen from time to time surely  cannot be a bad thing?

To make 18 madeleines:

• 2 eggs
• 80g grams white caster sugar
• zest of one lemon
• 2 large pinches of cardamom, finely ground
• pinch salt
• 110g grams plain flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 85 grams olive oil

Put the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, cardamom and salt in a bowl. Whip for 5 minutes until the mixture becomes light and thick (an electric beater is easiest!).

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder and sift. Add the flour mixture to the eggs and stir lightly with a spatula until combined.

Add the olive oil and incorporate using a spatula. Let the batter rest in the fridge for 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Place spoonfuls of the batter into madeleine moulds and bake for 15 minutes, until the “bumps” have appeared and the cakes are golden.

Once cooked, remove from the oven. When the silicone tray is cool enough to work with, press each madeleine out of the tray and move to a cooking rack. Just before serving, dust the shell side with icing sugar.

Worth making? I was very pleased with how these turned out. The freshness of the lemon and the cardamom work well together, and the olive oil keeps them very moist. What I did notice is that these cakes were actually at their best the day after baking – so once they are cool, leave overnight in a sealed container (with a slice of bread if you find them a little dry on the outside). The next day, they will be soft and fragrant when you come to eat them.

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Chocolate Cardamom Madeleines

A swanky new bright red silicone madeleine tray in my kitchen, and somewhat shockingly, I have only used it one. Bad, bad me. Time to change that.

I love “normal” madeleines, with their light citrus perfume, but I was in the mood to be experimental. In order to help along the thinking process, I turned to a rather marvellous gift that I received for my birthday – The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. This book looks at hundreds of flavour combinations, with just the right combination of art, science and culinary flair to make this quite an engrossing read and a very useful kitchen resource. All that, and it looks so darn cool on the coffee table.

Rather than using just orange zest, I decided to make some using cocoa powder, but I felt that I needed a partner ingredient. The book suggested cardamom, which was inspired for my purposes. Cardamom is known as an excellent foil for chocolate, but on its own is has a fragrant citrus quality which would make it a surprising but entirely appropriate replacement for the orange zest.

These cakes look picture-perfect, which is down to the super-duper silicone tray. You don’t even need to butter it, and still you get madeleines with immaculate, smooth shell-like indentations. And the flavour is superb. The chocolate flavour from the cocoa comes out, rich but not overwhelming, thus allowing the cardamom’s fresh aroma and flavour to shine along side it. They also look quite dramatic, the dark chocolate contrasting with the snowy whiteness of the icing sugar. Be sure not to dredge them too much, so that you can see the icing sugar clinging to the contours. All in all, a nice twist on a classic cake. I wonder what Proust would say?

To make 18 madeleines:

• 85 grams butter
• 2 eggs
• 80g grams brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, finely ground
• 80g grams plain flour
• 30g cocoa powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• Large pinch salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Put to one side and allow to cool.

Put the eggs, sugar and cardamom in a bowl. Whip for 5 minutes until the mixture becomes light and thick.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder and sift. Add the flour mixture to the eggs and stir lightly with a spatula until combined.

Add the cooled liquid butter and incorporate using a spatula. Let the batter rest in the fridge for 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Place spoonfuls of the batter into madeleine moulds and bake for 15 minutes.

Once cooked, remove from the oven. When the silicone tray is cool enough to work with, press each madeleine out the the tray. Move to a cooling rack, and dust the shell side of each with icing sugar.

Worth making? As long as you’ve got the proper tray, the recipe will give a good result. It’s quick too – just whipping the eggs, then fold in other ingredients, and allow to chill while you get on with your day. The cardamom addition also makes for an interesting change. If you like this spice, this recipe is definitely worth trying.

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Madeleines

With all things Continental still in my mind and a new baking tray, my thoughts turned to making madeleines. These are small French teacakes, with a shell pattern on one side and a “bump” on the other. The apparently originate from the Lorraine area in north-east of France, which makes the use of the shell shape all the more curious (it’s, eh, rather far from the sea).

Madeleines are perhaps most famous for their appearance in a short story by Proust in The Remembrance of Things Past. It is entitled “The Cookie”, although it actually relates to madeleines, in which the author describes the effect that tasting a piece of the cake has on his memories. It is not the look or smell of the cake (rather annoying for the person who went to all the effort to shape them), but the taste of the cake when dipped in a little warm tea and then eaten. Read it here.

Madeleines are small and delicate, usually flavoured with orange. The method might seem a little daunting at first – whip eggs and sugar, then add flour, then add cooled melted butter, allow to chill, then put into special moulds and watch like a hawk as they cook – but once you have tried them, they are quite simple. If you are keen to start making little French teatime treats, then the madeleine will also prove to be easier to master and generally a lot less fickle than the macaron. They also provide some scope to play with the recipe – lemon in place of orange, or use ground nuts in place of one-third of the flour (look closely – you can see the ground pistachio in the ones I made).

For me, the tricky thing has always been using a madeleine pan and getting successful results. I have – until this week – used a teflon-coated tray, and usually find that about half of the madeleines split in two, with half of each cake clinging to the not-so-non-stick surface, and all this in spite of generous use of butter, non-stick spray, each tried with and without dustings of flour. Well, this time, I used my new silicone tray, and each madeline came out with no effort. Each had a perfect, smooth finish. If you want to make madelines, buy a silicone mould – I can’t be enthusiastic enough about it!

Now, time to sit down with a madeleine, a cup of tea, and dip a piece of the former into the latter. Believe me, it tastes good!

To make 18 madeleines:

• 85 grams butter
• 2 eggs
• 80g grams caster sugar
• Zest of 1 orange
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 110g grams plain flour (you can substitute 1/3 of the flour with ground nuts)
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• Large pinch salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Put to one side and allow to cool.

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

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder and sift. Add the flour mixture to the eggs and stir lightly with a spatula until combined.

Add the cooled liquid butter and incorporate using a spatula. Let the batter rest in the fridge for 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place spoonfuls of the batter into madeleine moulds and bake for around 8-10 minutes (or as long as it takes for “bumps” to appear in the middle of the cakes). Reduce the heat to 190°C and bake until the cakes are lightly browned (another 5 minutes).

Once cooked, remove from the oven. When the silicone tray is cool enough to work with, press each madeleine out the the tray. Move to a cooling rack, and dust the shell side of each with icing sugar.

If you are feeling more ambitious, I have seen some recipes that use brown butter. This is normal butter that has been melted then cooked briefly so that the fat and solids separate and any water evaporates (with a rather spectacular fit of hissing and spitting), and the butter solids turn brown and there is am aroma of toasted nuts. You then strain the butter, and are left with butter that has a rich, nutty flavour. Just another way to add an extra flavour dimension to your baking.

Worth making? The only fussy bit here is actually getting hold of the proper tray. The rest is quite easy and uses items from the store cupboard. The result, however, is really excellent. The cakes are quite firm, and as Proust did, can be easily dunked into warm tea. Try it, experience the wonderful flavour, and you will be happy you tried making these yourself. I think I will be making these regularly as a companion to post-dinner coffee.

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