The Tuesday Tea Room,
Salon de Thé
Classic French Madeleines
Tuesday 16th August 2011
Mardi 16 Aout 2011 ~ St Armel
Tuesday already and I’m on the countdown for more B and B guests who arrive midweek……..however, pleasure before work makes Karen a very happy lassie, and as yesterday was a public holiday in France, I was treated to a wee trip to the local tea rooms, Salon de Thé as we say around these parts. I didn’t go totally mad given that I was surrounded by the most delectable pastries and cakes on offer; in fact I snubbed the Tarte au Chocolat, the Éclairs and the Paris Brest too……no, my eyes were firmly focused on a plate of light and delicate Madeleines ~ diminutive and elegant they sat on a vintage pressed glass plate and had my name all over them. I chose a tisane, Rose and Jasmine, which was a rather sophisticated for me as I am normally a Yorkshire Tea kinda gal. My Madeleines were brought over, I was served two dredged in icing sugar, they were light and fragrant with candied lemon peel ~ utterly divine darlinks!
I HAVE made Madeleines at home before, they are not that technically difficult and the result is as good if not better than ones you will find in Tea Rooms, and certainly light years ahead of those awful sugary commercial ones that come in “iffy” plastic boxes……I mean how can a “real” cake have a shelf life of one year?! So, to satisfy my Madeleine cravings during the week and to welcome the B and B guests, I made a batch up yesterday afternoon.
It isn’t just me who is a big fan of these little French morsels, Marcel Proust was also taken with them, so much so that he mentions them in his autobiographical book, Á la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past), and I quote…….“One day in winter, my mother offered me some tea … She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called petites madeleines, which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell … I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses”…….Oh yes, I am with you there Marcel!
Now I’m a bit of a magpie, especially when it comes to kitchenalia ~ I LOVE to buy old cake tins, jelly moulds, pie moulds, bread tins and all sorts of kitchen bric-a-brac……I haunt the local Brocantes and flea markets on the look out for unloved kitchen equipment with a view to giving them a better home, and so it was at one such Brocante that I found a STACK of old Madeleine moulds, as shown in the photos……eight in total and as cheap as chips ~ well about €6 for the whole lot! I love them, they’re old ( about 1950’s) but not rusty, although they have been used extensively and wear a patina of loving wear and constant use about them, which only adds to their charm.
Anyway, time to share my Madeleine recipe with you, which was given to me by an elderly French neighbour ~ there are many variations, this is my favourite.
Classic French Madeleines
These are one of my favourite French cakes; delicate little light sponge cakes, baked in special fluted trays and sprinkled lightly with icing sugar, so elegant, light and airy. Some are flavoured with vanilla extract only, whilst other recipes suggest using ground almonds, lemon or orange; my recipe uses a combination of vanilla extract and lemon zest. These are ideal served with afternoon coffee or with a glass of dessert wine after a meal, just as the French serve them. You can also dip the tips or one side into melted chocolate, but I prefer mine to be a little more subtle – but it is up to you.
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
125 g icing sugar (5ozs powdered sugar)
100 g plain flour (4ozs)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
125 g butter, melted and cooled (5ozs)
icing sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 190°C /375°F/ Gas mark 5. Grease and flour 24 Madeleine moulds. (Make sure that you grease and flour the moulds generously, to stop the cakes sticking.)
In a medium bowl beat eggs, vanilla and lemon zest with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the icing sugar. Beat for 5 to 7 minutes or until thick and shiny. It can take up to 10 to 15 minutes to achieve the right consistency – this is the key to successful Madeleines, so don’t take short cuts with this stage.
Sift together the flour and baking powder. Sift quarter of the flour mixture over the egg mixture, gently fold together with a metal spoon. Fold in the remaining flour bit by bit. Then fold in the melted and cooled butter. Spoon batter into the prepared moulds, filling three quarters full.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are golden and the tops spring back. Cool in moulds on a rack for 1 minute. Loosen with a knife. Invert onto a rack and cool. Sift icing sugar over the tops or melt plain chocolate and dip the tips in the chocolate. Store in an airtight container.
See you later, have a great start to the week.