The French madeleine is a small cake-like treat with a consistency lighter than the traditional sponge cake and is baked in a special pan with shell-shaped depressions. This, together with the prominent ‘hump’, is what give the madeleine its distinctive look. We must however not forget that the aesthetics should always be paired with perfect taste and texture. To be called perfect, a freshly baked madeleine should brown and slightly crisp on the outside and spongy and soft on the inside. Those who have experience with handling sponge cake batter should have no difficulty with this but novice bakers may find it somewhat tricky to achieve the correct consistency. The last moment addition of melted butter should be done with love and patience to prevent dry or rubbery outcomes.

It was my very first time baking in a silicone pan so I was naturally apprehensive about the end result. Indeed, I was rather doubtful whether this strangely flexible mold would resist the oven heat and I froze the batter for a good 2 hours, as instructed by the David Lebovitz recipe, before subjecting the pan and my precious batter to high temperatures. When I checked on my madeleines after the prescribed 8 minutes baking time, I found the underside relatively pale compared to cakes baked in metal pans. I therefore flipped them over and left them to brown for an extra minute on the topmost oven shelf which quickly make up for the lacking golden hue.

LEMON GLAZED MADELEINES

Ingredients:

For the Madeleines

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup (130g) granulated sugar

rounded 1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup (175g) flour

1 teaspoon baking powder, optional

zest of one small lemon

100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Additional melted butter for preparing the molds

For the Lemon Glaze

3/4 cup (150g) powdered sugar

1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons water

Method:

  • Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess.
  • Place in the fridge or freezer. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip eggs, granulated sugar and salt.
  • Mix for 5 minutes until frothy and thickened. Sift flour and baking powder over egg & sugar mixture.

  • Use a spatula to fold in the flour as you sift it over the batter. Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter.
  • Then dribble the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while folding to incorporate the butter.
  • Fold just until all the butter is incorporated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate batter for at least 1 hour.

  • Batter can be chilled for up to 12 hours. To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Plop enough batter in the center of each indentation which will fill it by three quarter its capacity.
  • Do not spread the batter. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until the madeleines just feel set. Do not over bake.

  • Make the glaze in a small bowl by stirring together powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth.
  • Tilt madeleines out onto a cooling rack. The moment they are cool enough to handle, dip each in the glaze.
  • Turn them over to make sure both sides are coated with glaze and scrape off any excess with a dull knife.

  • Rest each one back on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up.
  • Glazed madeleines are best left uncovered, or not tightly-wrapped; they are best eaten the day they are made.
  • They can be kept in a closed container for up to three days after baking. Makes 15 lemon-glazed madeleines.

Lemon-flavored Madeleines

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