The Musette: Lemon madeleines

My parents were in the food trade and, as a consequence, I was fortunate to eat at many nice restaurants when I was growing up. My litmus test for a good restaurant rested on a number of things, one of which was the quality of the petit fours. After the meal I would often say in my best beguiling voice, “Coffee for two and petits fours for five”. I don’t recall anyone not responding to my entreaties.

I often make mini madeleines for after dinner petit fours and slightly larger ones for afternoon tea. They’ve also been press-ganged into a quick dessert with the addition of a handful of fresh raspberries, raspberry sauce and a dollop of crème fraiche.

I understand they are best eaten on the day they’re baked. That’s right, because they are so moreish, I’ve never had any left over. What I like about the recipe is that the batter can be prepared the day before, left overnight in the fridge and then baked in a trice as and when needed.

It doesn't take much to make a sweet treat (image: Sheree)

It doesn’t take much to make a sweet treat (Image: Sheree)

Ingredients (makes 24)

  • 3 large organic eggs, approx. 45g (1⅔oz) each without the shell
  • 75g (½ cup) caster (super-fine) sugar
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 75g (⅔ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 75g (5 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Method

1. Brush the indentations of a madeleine mould with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer.

2. Whip the eggs, sugar and salt for five minutes in a free-standing mixer until frothy and thickened. The whisk should leave ribbons in the batter.

3. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour as you sift it over the batter.

4. Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter, then gradually pour the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate it. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.

5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight.

Batter after its overnight stop in the fridge (image: Sheree)

Batter after its overnight stop in the fridge (Image: Sheree)

6. To bake the madeleines, pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 (350°F/320°F fan).

7. Plop enough batter in the centre of each mould to fill three-quarters full (just eyeball it). Do not spread the batter.

Ready for baking (image: Sheree)

Ready for baking (Image: Sheree)

8. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cakes just feel set.

9. Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. When cool dust with icing sugar and serve.

Ready for a cuppa of your favourite brew (image: Sheree)

Ready for a cuppa of your favourite brew (Image: Sheree)

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the madeleines in the oven, put the timer on for 2-3 minutes less than they should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. You can of course add all manner of things to the madeleines, but I find the simplest recipes are best as they allow the cake to shine. They really are tasty little morsels.

4. Strictly speaking madeleines should have a hump but without the aid of baking powder. Freezing the prepared moulds before baking plus chilling the batter overnight seems to help.

5. If you don’t have madeleine pans, you can of course bake them in any small mould. But, a bit like my earlier recipe for financieres, the batter is sticky so it’s easier to extract them from non-stick ones.

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