I hemmed and hawed about whether to try Tara’s choice of madeleines for this week’s TWD recipe. I don’t have a madeleine pan, and I’m feeling stubborn about buying a pan that has such a specific use. I found out that a mini-muffin pan can be substituted, but I don’t have one of those either. Some people tried baking their madeleines in spoons, but my spoons aren’t very rounded and I wasn’t keen on putting them in the oven. It was suggested that those of us without the proper equipment blog about a previous TWD recipe that we missed instead, and I was all ready with a Snickery Squares entry.
But once the Snickery Squares were eaten, I decided to try out the madeleines anyway, in a regular muffin pan. The recipe says that it makes 12 madeleines, so I planned to divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups. (Actually, I halved the recipe and made six.) I lined the bottom of the muffin cups with cookie press stamps to add some decoration to my tea cakes. I figured that I had nothing to lose if things didn’t work out – the recipe is neither work nor calorie intensive.
I have to admit that this is my first madeleine experience; not just making them, but eating them as well. That means that I have no basis for comparison for how this recipe compares to others and how the muffin madeleines compare to the traditional shell shapes. However, I can make some judgments about what I want from a tea cake.
The muffin pans seemed to work well enough, although I didn’t get the characteristic and elusive hump that’s so desired. But I didn’t feel that my madeleines were tender enough. Honestly, I think there’s too much butter in them, and the batter just couldn’t support and incorporate all of it. I’m also a little surprised by how coarse my crumb was; I must not have beat the eggs and sugar long enough.
Overall though, I’m pleased by the idea of a cookie-sized cake. While I doubt that there’s a madeleine pan in my near future, I might try out some other shapes to see if I can come up with the light and tender tea cake that I want.
Traditional Madeleines (from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours)
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)
GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don’t worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven’s heat will take care of that. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.
If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.
Just before serving, dust the madeleines with confectioners’ sugar.