The elusive madeleine.  It seems as if every food blogger as attempted them and yet only a handful seem to succeed.  See, they’re a tricky bunch.  And apparently there’s two schools of thought regarding the use of baking powder – do you want the hump or not?  The hump and the pretty little scalloped indentations seem to be what get people the most.  So if you want the hump, yes, use the baking powder.  If you want the indentations (isn’t that what makes the presentation?), take the advice of David Lebovitz and freeze your floured molds for at least three hours prior to baking and for the love of all things French, don’t spread the batter in the mold.

“But isn’t Lebovitz the ice cream guy?” you say.  Of course, of course…but he’s also an ex-pat in Paris who only wrote one of the most endearing book about Paris ever (tongue-cheek).  The man knows his French treats.  These lemon-glazed madeleines are a tribute to his passion about said treats.  They are delightful and lemony…and how could you not love them when they turn out like these did?  Someone may have done a little dance of happiness in the kitchen that day but I won’t say who it was.  Just see what happens to you when you make them.

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French Lemon-Glazed Madeleine Cookies
source and recipe forward: adapted from David Lebovitz, The Sweet Life in Paris, Yields 24 cookies

If you use baking powder, they may take another minute or so to bake since the batter will rise higher. They’re done when the cakes feel just set if you poke them with your finger. Avoid overbaking them. There’s nothing better than a fresh, buttery madeleine.

I also prefer to bake these in the upper-third of my oven, so the tops get slightly-browned. I love the lemon glaze, but you can omit it if you want your madeleines nekkid.

For the Madeleines:
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup (130g) granulated sugar
rounded 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup (175g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
zest of one small lemon
9 tablespoons (120g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds

For the Glaze (optional):
3/4 cup (150g) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1. Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the freeze for at least 3 hours prior to baking.

2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 5 minutes until frothy and thickened.

3. Spoon the flour and baking powder, if using, into a sifter or mesh strainer and use a spatula to fold in the flour as you sift it over the batter. (Rest the bowl on a damp towel to help steady it for you.)

4. Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter, then dribble the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.

5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Batter can be chilled for up to 12 hours.)

6. To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

7. Plop enough batter in the center of each indentation with enough batter which you think will fill it by 3/4’s (you’ll have to eyeball it, but it’s not brain-surgery so don’t worry if you’re not exact.) Do not spread it.

8. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until the cakes just feel set. While the cakes are baking, make a glaze in a small mixing bowl by stirring together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth.

9. Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. The moment they’re cool enough to handle, dip each cake in the glaze, turning them over to make sure both sides are coated and scrape off any excess with a dull knife. After dipping, rest each one back on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up.
Storage: Glazed madeleines are best left uncovered, or not tightly-wrapped; they’re best eaten the day they’re made. They can be kept in a container for up to three days after baking, if necessary. I don’t recommend freezing them since the glaze will melt.

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  • July 14, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    Lovely madeleines

  • July 18, 2010 at 12:19 AM

    I just recently learned how to make madeleines and I love love love them! I also love the esteemed Mr. Lebovitz and I believe you have done justice to his recipe. Your madeleines look fantastic. I do prefer mine au naturel, which might be why my friends made me buy this shirt (and I’m recommending you get one too): http://shirt.woot.com/friends.aspx?k=14639. Isn’t it cute?

  • July 20, 2010 at 3:27 AM

    beautiful madeleines!! looks yummy!

  • July 20, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    I have the book, and make these madeleines frequently. This is a great recipe!!!! enjoy

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