Soft and moist with a sublime buttery flavour and light, fluffy texture, these little French cakes are universally loved. With a rich history dating back to the Duke of Lorraine and made famous by Proust in his novel 'A La Recherche du Temps Perdu', this classic recipe for Madeleines couldn't be more delicious, or easier to make. Suggestions by chefs Dorie Greenspan and Daniel Boulud provide added insight, for not only do they rest and chill the batter before piping it into the molds, but they chill it in the tin too, before sliding it onto a hot baking sheet. Served straight from the oven, these buttery little sponge cakes have wonderfully crisp edges and are so moist and tender, that they are best enjoyed right away with a light dusting of powdered sugar. After all, who can resist the exquisite pleasures of these “squat plump little cakes which look as though they had been molded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell.” Certainly not Proust.
Makes about 20
1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus 1 tbsp for buttering the mold
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
icing sugar for dusting
Melt the butter and allow to cool. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until creamy. Then add the vanilla, lemon zest and pinch of salt. Mix the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl, and gradually add it to the batter, beating just until blended. Gradually add the cooled melted butter in a steady stream, blending well, then cover and refrigerate until required.
Liberally brush the ridges of a small Madeleine pan with melted butter. Dust with flour tapping of any excess. Fill the molds not quite to the top, only about to 2/3, then refrigerate again or cook straight away for 10-15 minutes, or until they are puffed up and golden. Remove from the oven, tap out from the pan, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately while still deliciously warm.