Traditional French teacakes baked in shell-shaped moulds
Madeleines are delicate teacakes with a velvety texture and an unmistakable shape. They originate from the town of Commercy, France, and they have been immortalized in Proust‘s “Remembrance of Things Past”.
Later versions call for baking powder in the ingredients, while the old recipe I used here does not, relying only on the air incorporated in the batter and a high baking temperature to ensure the characteristic hump on the cakes top—true sign of a well-made madeleine.
They are traditionally flavored with lemon zest and vanilla which pair well with the buttery texture, but almond extract is another well suited flavoring—and my personal favorite.
From the original recipe by Sara Van Buren Brugière
In: “Good-living. A Practical Cookery-Book for Town and Country”, 1890—USA
1/2 lb (scant 2 cups—227 g) powdered sugar
grated rind of 1 (organic) lemon
1/2 lb (2 sticks—227 g) slightly softened + extra to grease the pans
1/2 lb (2 scant cups—227 g) AP flour
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Generously grease the Madeleine pans with melted butter and set aside. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
Cream the butter and add gradually the sugar through a strainer, still beating at high speed and taking care to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula once in awhile.
Add the eggs but keep 1 egg white aside. Beat at high speed until the mixture is light and frothy, adding the zest and vanilla as well. Add the flour through a strainer and mix it in by hand with a wooden spoon just until incorporated.
Beat the remaining egg white until stiff peaks form, then add it delicately to the flour batter, folding it in and making sure not to deflate it.
Fill the moulds 1/2 full with the batter and bake for 10 minutes. Do not open the oven before 10 minutes are past, to check if the cakes are done a tooth pick should come out clean and dry.
They can be kept in an airtight container but they are best eaten fresh. The recipe can be halved.