A couple of months ago I found a madeleine pan at DI (huge thrift store) for $2. Ever since then, I've been wanting to make the yummy-looking scalloped French cakes. Are they cakes? I think they are.
Anyway, this morning I finally got around to it. I gave them to a friend of mine who needed them, but not before my roommate and I tried one (that's the good thing about making not cakes for people-- you can have some and they will never know). They were very lemony, soft, airy, moist, and otherwise delicious. There are a couple of kinds of food I usually have trouble with, and one of them is French pastry. So if this counts as pastry...I'm finally getting the hang of it!
The key flavors in madeleines are butter and lemon, but the key ingredient is egg. The eggs have to be whipped into lighter-than-air goop, otherwise you won't get the airiness. The recipe calls for 4 minutes of high-powered whisking, but since I'm still using my muscles to mix things, it was a little harder to do, and I was worried that they wouldn't be fluffy enough. But I think all this manual labor is paying off, because I got the egg pretty frothy (and my upper arms have been a little sore lately from it all...yay?).
Adding butter to the froth
As for the butter, I'd completely forgotten to restock when I was last at the store, so I used tub butter (or margarine, whatever), and microwaved it (there's a recommended process for the butter in this recipe to melt it on the stove for a while, allowing it to become golden and "nutty," then straining it) and it still turned out okay! I also didn't think there was enough lemon in the zest, so I also squeezed in a bit of the juice (plus I'm focusing on not wasting, so win/win) into the batter, which made it better. Yep.
Also, the batter only made enough for barely 11 madeleines instead of 12, but I found out after they cooked that it's because I probably put way too much in each form/mold/whatever.
Filling the pan molds
Anyway, now for the recipe. I don't remember where I got it, and usually I'm really good about writing it down, but a good guess would be Smitten Kitchen, or maybe Tartelette. Check 'em both out.
Classic Madeleines [Madeleines Classiques]
adapted from Patisserie Lerch, via Paris Sweets
3/4 cup (105 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking soda
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon to zest a lemon, you basically use the skinny bumpy part of your cheese grater to scrape off the rind. The grated rind is the part you use. Check out the picture if you don't know what I'm talking about.
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces; 70 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1. Sift together the flour and baking powder and keep close at hand. Working in a mixer fit with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until they thicken and lighten in color, 2 to 4 minutes. Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla. Switch to a large rubber spatula and gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Cover the batter with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal, and chill for at least 3 hours, perhaps longer–chilling helps the batter develop its characteristic crown, known as the hump or the bump. (The batter can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). If your Madeleine pan is not nonstick, generously butter it, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. If the pan is nonstick, you still might want to give it an insurance coating of butter and flour. If it is silicone, do nothing. No matter what kind of pan you have, place it on a baking sheet for easy transportability.
3. Divide the batter among the molds, filling them almost to the top. Don’t worry about smoothing the batter, it will even out as it bakes.
4. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, small ones for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and golden and spring back when touched. Pull the pan from the oven and remove the cookies by either rapping the pan against the counter (the madeleines should drop out) or gently running a butte knife around the edges of the cookies. Allow the madeleines to cool on a cooling rack. They can be served ever so slightly warm or at room temperature.