Madeleines

Good morning! How about a treat with your morning coffee? How about a dozen of them? This week’s recipe is for Madeleines. If you want to bake along, you can find the entire text of the recipe at the Campers Guide. Thank you’s go out for hosting.

This was an easy recipe. It took me a little over an hour—and that included stopping to take pictures. One big time saver for me—I used Pam Baking spray (the one with flour). It’s way faster than buttering and flouring the pans. As an added bonus, the contours of the shell shape are a little cleaner. I have a set of old vintage tinned-steel pans that were a gift from my mother-in-law. She bought them back in the 60’s when she was taking a French cooking class. They are beautiful!

The recipe seemed a little plain to me, so I added some Lemon Juice Powder. (I swear I don’t work for King Arthur Flour.) One teaspoon of the powder added a little zing (so did the glaze I added…more on that later.)

First, we put the eggs, yolks and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk it lightly with the wire attachment. This was a little awkward, but simple enough.

Next, we whip the egg mixture until it is “airy, pale, and tripled in volume, like softly whipped cream.” Don’t forget to add the vanilla! The recipe said it would take 4 to 5 minutes. It took me more like 9 or 10.

That’s okay, though. It gave me plenty of time to sift my lemon juice powder, cake flour, salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar (yes, I remembered to save it out). Don’t skip this step. It’s important to aerate the flour. This will allow you to mix it into the eggs without deflating them too much.

Then, you gently fold the flour mixture into your beautiful poufy eggs in three additions. Do you have to do it in three additions? Yes! If you dump it all in at once, you’ll never get it incorporated without popping all those tiny bubbles you whipped into the batter.

The next step is to scoop a dollop of batter into the melted butter and mix it together. Here is one place where I think the recipe needs to be amended. This is a génoise batter. Every other génoise that I’ve made instructs you to keep the butter warm. They’re VERY specific about this (pastry chefs can be intimidating.) The other génoise we made from this book didn’t have you keep the butter warm, and mine didn’t turn out. (There was a layer of gummy yuckiness stuck to the bottom of the pan.) Maybe it was something else, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I melted the butter at the last minute and mixed it while it was still hot. Just a few turns of the spatula worked it in.

I poured this back in the main bowl and folded it all together. I sprayed my madeleine pans with Baking Pam (the one with flour). I used a cookie scoop to fills my molds. It was too much batter for my pastry bag, plus, I hate cleaning those things. It’s important not to overfill these pans. Otherwise, they’ll grow together into one, big, ugly mass on the top of your pan, instead of cute, dainty, girly, shell-shaped cakes. The pan below is actually a little bit overfilled.

Despite it all, they turned out okay. And didn’t stick a bit. Yay, modern technology! (Okay, aerosol cans of oil and starch aren’t that new, but it sure beats butter and a pastry brush.)

Now, for the awful truth. They were a tad dry, even fresh out of the oven. The lemon flavor was nice, but subtle.

I was reminded that génoise is usually soaked with a flavored simple syrup and then iced or filled with something yummy. I didn’t want to soak them with syrup. These are finger food and that would be too messy. But they needed something, so I made a lemon glaze. I used the glaze from the lemon-lime cupcakes recipe on KA Flour’s website. (I know I seem like a KA fanatic.) It’s super easy. Melt butter, sift powdered sugar, lemon juice powder on top, whisk in some water and you’re done. Can you skip sifting? Sure, if you like lumps in your glaze.

I had to add extra water. The recipe said to aim for the consistency of molasses. I got pretty close. I dipped each cookie in the glaze and sprinkled them with a little yellow sanding sugar. You could use lemon zest, too. That would be prettier (and classier), but I wasn’t afraid that my son would turn up his nose at zest. Don’t dip all of them and then try to sprinkle the decoration on top. The glaze dries REALLY quickly. I actually had to whisk in a little water halfway through to keep it from getting too stiff.

So we had glazed lemon madeleines. And they were pretty good. For about 12 hours or so. Did I mention there were 24 of them? There was no way we could finish them in one day. The next morning they were decidedly stale and by that evening they were pretty much inedible.

I don’t think I’d make these again, at least not as madeleines. But I’m excited by the possibilities for ladyfingers. Think tiramisu, and trifles, and charlottes! I hope we try this recipe again as a component in a more complex recipe.

What did you guys think of this? Will this become part of your repertoire?