Sunday 6 November 2011

Lemon madeleines for Baking for Hospice and writer's block

The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it....And as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me .... immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents... and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I used to be sent before lunch, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was in that moment all the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann's park, and the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea. ~ Marcel Proust from 'Remebrance of Things Past'

I made these Lemon Madeleines for our last Baking for Hospice spring themed round a whole week ago and for the whole week I've been writing, re-writing and re-re-writing this post but I just haven't been happy with anything I put down.  It's like Proust did such a good job writing about madeleines that my brain is refusing to encroach on his territorry.  There aren't even any good puns about madelines.  No puns = no fun.

Or maybe it's something to do with all the electioneering going on on tv in the last little bit.  All that politician prattle is frying my brain.

So I'm sorry if this post is a bit of a lemon.
Urgh writer's block, get thee gone!

{my gorgeous madeleine pan from my lovely law ladies}

Since I have no good stories or witty insights to share on this post, I will concentrate on les madeleines.  Ahhh madeleines.  So french, so petite, so chic.  These scalloped shaped morsels are so delicate and pretty, you can't help but feel like a lady nibbling on them.

The beauty of the madeleine is really in its form.  Such a pretty cookie.  I can't say though that I'm blown away by their flavour - they are usually vanilla or lightly lemony scented spongey wee things that lean towards the dry side to make them perfect for dunking most elegantly into a cup of tea. 

I also can't say that I'm particularly fond of dunking either.  Quelle horreur, I know!  I'm just not convinced it improves the cookie nor the tea.  It always makes the cookie soggy and leaves floaties in the tea and I'm not a big fan of soggy anything.  Or floaties.

Oh dear, I'm not really selling these am I?  (See, what did I tell ya: writer's block!)  C did love these lemon madeleines: they are lovable sweet little cookie-like cakes or cakey-cookies with an ever-so-slight lemon fragrance.  In fact their almost-blandness makes it easier to down three or four in one go.  And they are pretty.  However, being a fan of big bolshy lemon rather than wimpy lemon, I think next time I'll give them a lemon glaze a la David Lebovitz to give them more of a lemony burst.

And did I mention they're so purty?

{my lovely madeleine humps, in the back and in the front, check it out}

According to those much more learned than I in the intricacies of french patisserie, the mark of a good madeleine is supposedly in its hump.  Yes, desirable humps.  Not such an elegant feature to this otherwise refined french pastry.  Apparently these lovely humps are hard to achieve but the use of baking powder seems to be the key.  Purists will turn their noses up at the addition of baking powder but if baking legends like Martha, Dorie and David Lebovitz use it, then who am I to argue non?

You may have noticed that madeleines kinda look like limpets, well they kinda stick like them too.  You will see in the recipe I say to grease the madeleine pan liberally. I greased the living daylights out of the thing but still had to wash between each batch.  I have a traditional madeleine pan (not a non-stick one) so greasing is really just to stop them from being totally stuck, rather than stopping them sticking at all.  You have been warned.

{all packed up for Baking for Hospice}

Lemon Madeleines

Tweaked from recipe by Martha Stewart

makes 48 madeleines

1 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted (british standard = 354g)
3 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp lemon zest (around 3 large lemons)
4 Tbsp lemon juice (around 1 large lemon)

1. In a bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.  In a separate very large bowl beat eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, lemon rind and lemon zest until pale and fluffy.

2. While the beaters are still going, mix in the melted butter.  Then fold in the sifted flour mixture gently.  Let the mixture chill for 1 - 3 hours (apparently this is essential for getting the desired "hump").

3. Preheat the oven to 200oC.  Grease your madeleine pan well with butter.  Spoon around a desserspoonful of mixture into each mold to about 3/4 full.  Bake for around 14 minutes until they are looking golden brown on the edges.  Tip madeleines onto a cooling rack to cool completely. You will probably need to use a knife to loosen the edges from the pan.  Madeleines are best eaten on the day but can last up to 3 days in an airtight container.  Dorie says if you wrap them up well they can freeze them for up to 2 months.  Enjoy with a hot cuppa tea - dunking optional.


  1. They look just beautiful! A madeleine pan is on my 'to ask santa for' list. Cute post :)

  2. oo, they look yummy! last time i made madeleines I dipped the ends in chocolate ;)

    Katie x

  3. Beautiful <3


  4. That warning is exactly what keeps me from making Madeleines! I also avoid bundt cakes. Same problem.

    But yours look so delushous that I wish i could have some right now. If I had knocked on Halloween would you have given me one of those??? If so... Maybe I should buy a ticket.

  5. For all their stickiness, they are gorgeous! Hope writer's block leaves you soon (I know the feeling... terrible!)

  6. timeforalittlesomething: Thanks Jem! Hope Santa hears your wishes! :) xox

    Katie: ooooooo chocolate dipping makes all things good....what a great idea! Will def try it next time. Thanks Katie!

    Eugenia: Thanks heaps Eugenia!! :)

    Mariko: It's a sticky situation isn't it?? :) I too avoud bundt cakes...they kinda scare me but at the same time I've seen such pretty ones on tastespotting from time to time that I can't help wanting to try them too....I would most definitely give you some of these if you came a knocking at Halloween Mariko!!! :) xox

    treehousekitchen: Cheers Mel!!! A little icing sugar covers a multitude of sins huh?!? Writer's block has been like that awkward relative that's just stayed for a little too long. Time to send it packing I think!! :)



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