History is uncertain as to the exact origins of madeleines, but it is certain that these small, delicate cakes were first made in France. Was it Louis XV’s father-in-law who introduced them to the court of Versailles way back in 1730? Was it an accident discovered by a pastry chef and then kept secret for many years? Who knows? And really, do we care? What matters is that these simple little cakes, these simply divine creations made of flour, butter, eggs and sugar are simply wonderful.
Madeleines conform to the configuration of the pan they are baked in. They are small, ridged, and elongated–somewhat like a shell shape. A madeleine made in any other form is not a madeleine.
Traditionally these cakes are not particularly sweet, and therefore appeal more to grownups sipping their tea or coffee than to children who like their treats a little sweeter. If you have a basic recipe for madeleines it can be adapted to include add-ins like finely chopped nuts or mini chocolate chips, or other flavors like orange or lemon. Dusting them with a coating of powdered sugar is all that’s needed before serving, but you can make them fancy schmancy by dipping one end in melted chocolate if you like, or drizzling them with a thin icing. These look pretty elegant on a buffet table, say for a bridal shower, for instance.
Back some time ago I was rummaging through an “odd lots” store near me and came across a pair of madeleine pans that had a ridiculously low price tag on them. Not one to pass up a good bargain, I bought them and then never used them. Well, newsletters with recipes included come to my e-mail in-box every day it seems, and the latest one included a recipe for—-you guessed it—madeleines. Ok, so that was the stimulus that brought about the response to break out the never- used-pans and make madeleines. They came out so well that I had to share my baking efforts with you.
Making madeleines is easy, but you must allow at least 30 minutes for the dough to chill. Otherwise, during baking, the batter will not rise into the traditional peak so necessary for a perfect madeleine. Some of the newer madeleine pans are of the nonstick variety, which makes baking these treasures easier than ever.
ORANGE CARDAMOM MADELEINES
Yield: Makes 16 3-inch cakes
- 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pans
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest, plus 2 Tbsp. orange juice
1. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. ( I melted an extra 1 Tbsp. and used it to lightly brush the molds with a pastry brush.) Stir in honey and vanilla. Let cool for 10 minutes.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt in a medium bowl.
3. In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Gently add to flour mixture and stir until well combined. Add butter mixture and fold to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 325*F. Brush molds with butter. (note, I did this earlier when I melted the butter.) Spoon batter into prepared pans, filling each mold half-way. Tap on surface to eliminate air bubbles.
Bake until puffed and edges are golden, 7-8 minutes.
Let cool slightly, then unmold onto a cooling rack.
5. Make orange glaze: Stir together sugar, zest and orange juice in a small bowl till glaze is smooth, thick, and opaque. Using a pastry brush, coat ridged side of each cake with the glaze.. Let set about 15 minutes. Store in a single layer in an airtight container up to 3 days.
SOURCE: Martha Stewart.com