Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Lemon and Brown Butter Madeleines


With one week until school begins I find myself lamenting how quickly my five weeks of vacation flew by and how little free time I actually had. I blame it on the constant cycle of work that made the days go by faster and faster as they became indistinguishable. Work, eat, sleep, repeat. Now I'm saddened that I, once again, did not get to doing all the fun things that I had planned and day dreamed about instead of being attentive during last semester's classes. But I can't deny that I am excited for school and clinicals to start, so one could say that the fun has just begun for me.

Now these madeleines were something I whipped up in the few hours in between waking up and heading to work at noon this morning. Just had to satisfy my baking fix. Now, I've made madeleines once before with great success. They're my father's favorite, he loves the ones baked up by the Sugar Bowl Bakery in San Francisco that are sold in Costco, so I wanted to see what he thought of these. I was delighted to hear from my sister the next day that they were devoured by the familyin one sitting. My one qualm about that batch of madeleines was that I slightly overfilled the pan, which ruined the ideal shell shape. So I noted that I would have to make them again properly in order to document them here.

However, this time around I used a different recipe from
101 Cookbooks. That looked promising and was deemed "fail-safe", but I couldn't help but notice the lack of baking powder and refrigeration in the recipe. Now, baking powder I know is not a MUST in all madeleine recipes, but in my previous research I came up on a lot of emphasis regarding refrigeration, sometimes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. But I pressed on and followed the recipe regardless. Now maybe it was my use of a handmixer as opposed to a stand mixer, but when I pulled the first tray of madeleines from the oven I was discouraged to find that they had not developed that signature hump nor had they risen at all. The backs were sunk in and they stuck to the pan. So, crossing my fingers, I sprinkled a small amount of baking powder into the remaining batter, gave it a good fold and hoped for the best. I even stuck the filled madeleine pan into the freezer for a good ten minutes. To my relief they came out much better, not humpy, but nicely puffed up. Now, I want to say that it must have been something that I did wrong that caused the problem, because I'm sure that the recipe, which has given others so much success, can't be flawed. But I'll be sticking with my original madeleine recipe, which is what I'll be typing up here. For the other recipe, see here.


adapted from Baking From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan)

2/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
Grated zest of 1 Lemon
2 Large Eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
3/4 Stick (6 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400˚F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.

Spoon the batter in the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven's heat will take care of that. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.

Just before serving, dust the madeleines with confectioners' sugar.



Anonymous said...

I do enjoy the Madeleines from the Sugar Bowl Bakery but I think homemade is way better! Personally, I think the Madeleines from the store lacks that good, inviting buttery smell that I think is important to Madeleines.

I also agree with you about the baking powder and the refrigeration time. I've read a lot about Madeleines and it's a must to refrigerate the batter so the signature hump can develope. There are so many Madeleines out there that I'd like to try! I love these cakes/ cookies....something about them that remind me of simple time, simple beauty, and simple joy!

Happy Baking! Thanks for the post!

TasteStopping said...

I love, love, love that you gave an honest critique of what happened when you tried a new recipe. And how smart of you to go with your gut and put baking powder in the mix when the first batch didn't meet your expectation. Now I need to bite the bullet and buy myself a Madeleine pan to make your tried and true recipe. Kudos!

Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.


Jessie T. said...

Nice job.

I love madelines. Little bites of delicious cake are always a treat.

You inspired me with the photo of the cakes. The patterned paper in the background works really well—nice height.