The French do most things better. Romance, films. Pastries. Scalloped little cakes lighter than air also known as Madeleines.
I go to France quite a bit, but when I don’t, I like to make these and pretend I’m in Montmartre under the strings of orange lights with the ghost of Jim Morrison sauntering alongside.
As I was saying.
There’s little else more Français than a dainty, golden Madeleine. I’ve tried a few recipes, and the one that summons my Francophilia more readily than the rest is from Ashley, aka Baker By Nature. Ashley uses lemon, but for my riff on her recipe, I dose the Madeleine batter with a shot of espresso powder. Which is, frankly, freakin’ magic with the browned butter from the original. I also dunk ‘em in ridiculously dark mocha (espresso + cocoa) glaze because, when I do coffee, I do it all the way, baby.
Things You Need to Know About Making Madeleines
There’s a funny paradox when it comes to mastering Madeleines. You have to chill the batter for at least four hours. (If you want a light, fluffy crumb with that characteristic Madeleine bump in the centre, that is.) But—once you’ve ferried your lil’ darlings out the oven, you need to eat them within the hour. (Unless you like a dry, stale cake, that is.) Madeleines are fussy when it comes to these two cardinal things, but the rest? Easy.
Plus, you can make a bucketload of batter, bake off fresh, coffee-scented batches for the next three mornings, and channel Julia Child like it ain’t no thang.
Brown butter and coffee flavours make this French classic the perfect winter treat. Dip in a satiny mocha glaze, dunk in your cuppa, and Ooh. La. La.
- 8 tbsp salted butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp instant espresso powder
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
For the mocha glaze—
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup icing (confectioners’) sugar
- 4 tsp whole milk, plus more if needed
- Sprinkles (optional)
- Heat butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook until the butter begins to foam and become fragrant—then watch for the solids sinking to the bottom of the pan and the colour changing to golden brown. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and espresso powder. Set aside.
- Using either a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a food processor, beat the eggs at medium speed, slowly adding the sugar. Then turn up the speed and beat until mixture has risen and is pale (this should take around 3-4 minutes).
- Gently fold flour mixture into egg mixture (pouring in flour mixture in three increments), mixing until just combined.
- Fold in butter mixture until completely combined (but don’t overmix!).
- Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, and up to 2 days.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 F/ 180 C/ Gas Mark 4. Grease madeleine pan well with butter, then lightly dust with flour.*
- Check that the butter hasn’t separated into streaks in your batter. If it has, do some gentle folding to properly combine. Then, using a tablespoon, spoon one level spoonful of batter into the centre of each mould. Do not smooth the batter.
- Place an extra baking sheet/tray under the Madeleine pan to stop the bottoms from browning. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the ‘bumps’ have risen and the Madeleines are slightly springy to the touch. Remove from oven and flip over tray, gently tapping to release Madeleines.
- For the glaze, sift the icing/confectioner’s sugar into a medium bowl, then add remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. If mixture is too thick, only add a tablespoon of milk at a time. Dip in Madeleines, decorate with sprinkles, or just dunk as you eat, delivering the whole party express-train (or espresso-train?) to your cake hole.
* Even if your pan is non-stick, don’t skip this step! Madeleines are notorious for sticking in the moulds!