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Why I Love This Recipe

What is it about the Madeleine? Many have fallen victim to their love affair with this elusive tea cake hailing from the Lorraine region of France. Yes, elusive. For no one seems to be able to truly agree upon what a Madeleine is, other than a small scallop shaped tea cake/cookie/biscuit. I have noticed people turn to Proust's description in Remembrance of Things for a possible clue.

"She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called "petites madeleines," which look as though they had been molded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, 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 mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savors, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?

I drink a second mouthful, in which I find nothing more than in the first, then a third, which gives me rather less than the second. It is time to stop....

And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom , my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane."

Concerns over "the crumb", whether it should be hard or soft, dry or moist, the structural integrity upon dunking in one's tea, or should it even be dunked in ones tea. Should it be dissolved to crumbs instead? The arguments abound as everyone cerebralizes the whole thing to the point that this little bit of Genoise based tea cake has been turned into a quest for Shangra La. OYE!

Poppy Cock, I say. Stop over thinking it and just enjoy them... with Lime-Blossom Tisane, of course. ;)

The key to a well made Madeleine is European butter and getting as much air incorporated into the eggs as possible. Oh, and your gonna need a Madeleine pan. For the only things that anyone ever agrees on is that they are shell shaped and flavored with Lemon Zest. ;)

Personally though, I prefer the intoxicating perfume of Meyer Lemon over Eureka Lemon.

Ingredients You'll Need

10 1/2 TB (150 g) European Butter, Unsalted
3 Large Eggs, minus 2 tsp (150 g), Room Temp (or 2 Large eggs and 1 Medium egg)
2/3 Cup (150g) Granulated Sugar
Pinch of Fleur de Sel or Kosher Salt
3/4 tsp Meyer Lemon Zest
1 Cup plus 3 TB (150 g) AP Flour


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the butter.

Brush the Madeleine tin with some of the melted butter, (set the remaining butter aside to cool) then dust the pan with flour and set aside.

Use a fork or whisk to lightly beat the eggs then, if you are a little anal retentive like me, remove about 2 tsp of the beaten egg; this makes about 150g (3 large eggs is about 167g)

Place the beaten eggs in your mixing bowl along with the Sugar, Salt and Meyer Lemon Zest.

Whisk the egg mixture until light, foamy and thickened. It's gonna take awhile...... Probably about 8-10 minutes, before you reach maximum volume. (this is known as ribbon stage, and it's the only leavening for the cakes)

Sift a little flour onto the egg mixture and begin folding.

Sift in a little more flour and fold again. (this should take about 10 additions to keep from deflating the batter)

Once the flour has been added, begin slowly folding in the melted butter, 2 TBs at a time.

Again, be patient and careful to not deflate the batter

Spoon a 1 TB of batter into each depression in the Madeleine mold; don't smooth it out, the batter will spread when baking. (Personally, I think letting the batter spread itself assists in creating the characteristic "hump" on the back)

Bake for 10 -12 minutes, just until the edges begin to turn golden brown.

Remove tray from oven and knock against the cooling rack, they should all fall out.

Turn them, bump side down and allow to cool completely before dusting with confectioners' sugar.

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