Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Les Petits Gateaux Madeleines

Little cakey madeleines
I blame Starbucks for this.  From time to time, they carry these little seashell shaped little cakes in a pack of 3 for $1.50.  I usually don't go for any of the stuff they have in their display case because it's either too sweet or too much, but these are just right.  The only problem is, they don't seem to stock them as a regular item.  And what does Meow do?

I have never cared for madeleines even when in France where it was said to have been originated.  Maybe because it was too dry or too moist depending where you get them.  I got hooked on the Starschmucks ones because they were slightly dried out.  There's a difference between a cake being "dry" and being "dried out".

At first, I didn't have a proper seashell pan and just used my mini muffin pan.  I JUST WANTED THE FLAVOUR AND TEXTURE!! Then I went out and bought a proper pan after I've had my fix.

This recipe called for browned butter.  Brown butter contains no water and will help stiffen whatever mixture it is added to once the mixture gets cold.  I've never tried making it without the browned butter because all the madeleines I've tasted, even the ones in France, had this buttery nutty flavour that is unique to a browned butter.  And besides, what's better than just butter?  Browned butter, of course!

from Baking by James Peterson

Yields 18

3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
1/2 cup butter, made into brown butter
1 tbsp of lemon or orange zest, alternately lemon or orange oil
Confectioner's sugar (icing sugar) for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F

Making Browned Butter

1. Put the butter in a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat

As it melts, you'll notice a lot of foam.  Just keep stirring.
After about 3 minutes, the foam will subside and you'll start to see solid
milk particles to form.
Another 2 minutes later, the particles of milk solids will brown.
It tends to cling to the sides and bottom of the sauce pan.

2. Once butter has browned, dunk the pan in a shallow sink of cold water.  You can strain out the solids with a coffee filter if you don't want little brown specks in your madeleines later.
Remember, pans are still hot and can continue to cook even after having
been removed from the stove.

3. Steal some melted butter to generously grease your pan.

4. Whisk eggs and granulated sugar on high speed until it doubles or triples in volume.
About 6 to 15 minutes
The mixture should blend back into itself after 5 seconds when the beaters
are lifted at the end of whisking time.

5. Gently fold in some zest.

6. Sift and gently in fold in cake flour.
Sift and fold in the flour in a few goes

7. Take about 1/4 of the cake batter and put it into the brown butter and whisk.

The fluffy cake batter will go flat in here

8. Gently fold the butter mixture into the cake batter, being careful not to deflate the batter.

9. Spoon the batter into the moulds or into a piping bag (fitted with 2/3" tip) and pipe into the mould.  You can let the batter cool in the fridge and firm up a bit if it is runny.

10. Bake at 350F for about 8-10 minutes.  When the edges are brown, pull them out.  Let cool on a rack.

The original recipe says to bake at 400F for 20 minutes.
However, at 8 minutes, they were already very brown (front right).
So I tried to bake for 6 minutes, it was still very brown (back center)
5 minutes, they looked tanned but a bit moist (front left)
4 minutes were the right colour but not cooked through (back left/right)
Conclusion: 400F is not the right temperature
The little brown specks are the result of not straining my brown butter

Store in an airtight container, these like to dry out.

After tinkering around with the temperature and timing and comparing recipes, 350F for about 8 minutes works best.  I get a slightly tanned cake and dry throughout.

I am not kidding when I say butter your pan generously.  These cakes are very delicate and like all cakes, they stick.  So, if you want to be able to pry them out without it falling apart, grease the pan!  They are very springy and soft when they are warm, so that makes getting them off the pan a lot more difficult.

Mr. Meow likes to have them with Nutella.  He calls them evil. ;)



  1. My favorite recipe is the following. I just love it. Pretty much yours. I like to make lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit madeleines. Yum!


  2. Thank you for stopping by, Diane. I have made lemon and orange madeleines before, but grapefruit ones sounds very interesting! Next project!!