Recently a reader requested my recipe for madeleines, the extroardinary teacake from France. Except for dinner parties, I seldom bake. (Hello… this is Los Angeles… who actually eats sweets?) But when I do, my go-to recipe is always the reliably fantastic madeleine. It is simplicity itself. But it’s power is immense. Marcel Proust was launched on a dreamy reverie by the mere taste of a madeleine, resulting the the masterpiece, Remembrance of Things Past. Feel free to experiment. Anyone who has been to Fauchon in Place de la Madeleine in Paris knows that they only make about a million variations. I sometimes add 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans. Enjoy!
(adapted from a January 2000 Bon Appetit recipe)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel (use organic unwaxed)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
Preheat oven to 375degrees (I use 350 degrees truconvec on my Viking). Lightly butter the madeleine molds (mine are nonstick from Williams-Sonoma-they just fly right out!). In a stand-up mixer (or hand-held), beat eggs and sugar until blended. Add vanilla lemon peel, salt and mix in. Beat in flour until just blended (any more and you’ll have dreaded ‘tunnels’ in your finished product). In a slow, steady stream, beat in melted butter on low and stop as soon as it is incorporated. I usually stir the last of it in by hand. Spoon batter into molds. I prefer large madeleines, so I fill the molds about 3/4 full. For me, this recipe makes about 15, but you can use less batter and get more. Bake for 9-10 minutes depending on your oven. As soon as you see crispy brown edges, take them out. Overbaked, they become dry and chalky. Let them cool in the pan for about 1-2 minutes, then tip them out onto a countertop to finish cooling. When completely cool, dust the brown side with powdered sugar. Perfection!
“And as soon as I had recognized the taste of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set…”
-Marcel Proust Remebrance of Things Past