Madeleines are delightful buttery little cakes with endless flavour possibilities. Learn how to make these classic French treats to go with your cup of coffee or to share with a friend.
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THE RECIPE VIDEO
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MADELEINES IN THE TRANSPORTER
Madeleines may have never come across my radar until later in life had I not watched The Transporter back in 2010. This Jason Statham action flick includes a scene involving these buttery little cakes that are baked in special sea shell moulds. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed, much to my husband’s (Big Papa’s) confusion. He doesn’t understand how I can be over the moon with something so simple. That’s what I love about them though. There’s beauty in simplicity, and often, I find, the simplest recipes are the most delicious. By the way, here’s that Transporter scene I’m talking about:
WHAT ARE MADELEINES?
Madeleines, while they may be treated as cookies, are little sponge cakes. They are made of the simplest ingredients, which can get complicated as you move into different flavours. All you need to make madeleines is flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, eggs, and a bit of milk. If you’d like, you can add flavours.
HOW CAN MADELEINES BE FLAVOURED?
If you want to keep your madeleines as classic as possible, lemon zest is your best bet. Orange blossom water is another option, which is what I used for this recipe since I was fresh out of lemon zest. This usually doesn’t happen very often, because I zest my lemons before using them and preserve it in the freezer.
Moving away from the traditional flavourings opens up a world of countless possibilities. You can make matcha madeleines, almond or hazelnut, chocolate, lavender, maple bacon, and pumpkin spice. I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to madeleines, so I haven’t experimented with these funky flavours. There are all kinds of recipes online, but there’s also this cute recipe book called We Love Madeleines. I bought it years ago and keep on my bookshelf just in case I strike up the nerve to move out of my comfort zone.
CAN I DECORATE MADELEINES?
You most certainly can! My favourite way to decorate madeleines is to dust them with powdered sugar or dip them in bittersweet chocolate. From there you can roll them in chopped nuts, toasted coconut, candied bacon, or whatever goes best with your flavour of choice. You can also drizzle white chocolate over the dark chocolate for contrast. You can also use a glaze to keep these cakes fresher, and speaking of which…
HOW LONG DO MADELEINES KEEP FRESH FOR?
Because of their spongey nature, madeleines are best consumed the day of. Even if they’re stored in an airtight container, they will start losing their moisture. Mind you, I’ve eaten them five days old by dipping them in chocolate milk or in a cup of tea to reconstitute them a bit. In all likelihood though, your madeleines won’t last long enough for you to worry past day two.
CAN I MAKE THE BATTER IN ADVANCE?
If you’re hosting company for tea or coffee, it’s simple to make this batter the day before and fill the moulds the following day. Just keep the dough covered and use it within 24 hours. Plus, there’s the added benefit of your guests being greeted by the aroma of freshly baked goods. Yum!
BRING THESE AS A HOST GIFT
If you’re going to a party, a jar full of madeleines make a thoughtful, elegant gift that everyone will love. These are also a hit at potlucks as they’re not encountered very often, making them special.
When it comes to madeleines, there are several kinds of moulds you can choose from. I personally own a tinned steel and a couple of silicone moulds, but there are non-stick versions available as well. Each has their pros and cons.
Because of their coating, you won’t have to butter them before filling the moulds. If you want lightly coloured madeleines, this is a good thing, because the butter helps them brown. For the most part, I tend to stay away from non-stick cookware because of the PFAS, which you can read about in my post on cooking with cast iron.
If you’ve never worked with silicone moulds before, you’ll quickly learn that these need to be set on a cookie sheet prior to baking as they’re quite flimsy. They’re a good alternative to non-stick pans and don’t need to be buttered. It’s also a cinch to remove them from the moulds, because they can pop right out.
These pans are the trickiest to work with because if you do a poor job of buttering and flouring the moulds, the cakes will stick. I like them because they don’t have a non-stick chemical coating and are sturdy. By the way, you can use granulated sugar instead of flour to dust the moulds after buttering!
Now that we’ve gone over the madeleine FAQs, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to it. Madeleines don’t make themselves, you know! While there’s a bit of a method to mixing the dough, it’s a fairly standard technique. Mix it by hand or pull out your stand mixer and a paddle attachment. I don’t recommend using a hand mixer as it’s a thick dough.
You’ll find the full recipe below, but I’m curious, what flavouring are you going to use? I hope you let me know how it goes for you in the comments below!
SHOP THIS POST
Silicone moulds (I have these ones)
Tinned steel mould (It’s made in France and I love it)
130g raw sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
170g all-purpose, unbleached flour
8g baking powder
85g melted butter
1 tsp of preferred flavouring ie. lemon zest, orange blossom water, vanilla, etc. (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400ºF/205ºC.
If using tinned steel moulds, grease them with butter and coat them in flour or sugar.
Sift the flour with the baking powder and set aside.
In a medium bowl (or a stand mixer bowl) cream the sugar with the butter.
Beat in one egg. Once incorporated, add half of the flour mixture.
Mix in the second egg, followed by the rest of the flour.
Add the milk in stages, mixing as you go along.
If using a flavouring, mix this in.
Transfer the batter to a piping bag without a tip.
Fill the moulds 3/4 of the way and place the mould on a baking sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until the madeleines spring back when touched, rotating the pan halfway through.
Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing them from the moulds.
THE PRINTABLE RECIPE CARD
Classic French Madeleines
- Madeleine mould
- Baking sheet (optional)
- Cooling rack
- Mixing bowl
- Dough scraper
- 130 g raw sugar
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 35 ml milk
- 170 g all-purpose unbleached flour
- 8 g baking powder
- 85 g melted butter
- 1 tsp of preferred flavouring ie. lemon zest orange blossom water, vanilla, etc. (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF/205ºC.
- If using tinned steel moulds, grease them with butter and coat them in flour or sugar.
- Sift the flour with the baking powder and set aside.
- In a medium bowl (or a stand mixer bowl) cream the sugar with the butter.
- Beat in one egg. Once incorporated, add half of the flour mixture.
- Mix in the second egg, followed by the rest of the flour.
- Add the milk in stages, mixing as you go along.
- If using a flavouring, mix this in.
- Transfer the batter to a piping bag without a tip.
- Fill the moulds 3/4 of the way and place the mould on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 12 minutes, or until the madeleines spring back when touched, rotating the pan halfway through.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing them from the moulds.
- The batter can be made a day in advance and kept covered in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- Non-stick and silicone moulds need not be buttered.
- Madeleines are at their prime the day they’re baked and will lose moisture as more time passes, making them drier.
PIN IT FOR LATER
Love and gratitude,