Sunday, February 6

Be my Madeleine...

I don't usually advocate recipes that require very specialized equipment. Most of us don't have enough storage as it is, never mind filling it up with a plethora of seldom used gizmo's. But of course rules are made to be broken, and when my sister (vintage magpie!) gave me a lovely old french madeleine tin for Christmas I was rather pleased.

These lovely little cakes were made most famous by the French writer Proust. In his novel "In Search of Lost Time" the narrator refers to them in a passage about involuntary memory. On tasting a madeleine he is instantly transported back to his Aunt's bedside, where as a child he tasted the little cake dipped in her tea.
I cant honestly say they hold any such associations for me, mine was a childhood of lamingtons, pavlova and mellowpuffs, but I think the idea is entirely valid. Whenever I make the spiced fruit biscuits Mum used to make for our school lunches I am right back sitting on a bench at playlunch, throw a mince pie into the mix and it really is school days all over again......
Essentially these are a very delicate tender sponge cooked in tins shaped like a shell. I made this recipe up as I had great limes to use and wanted a slightly tropical flavour. I would like to try a version using coconut also, maybe in place of the ground almond. The nuts add a moistness, but can be left out if you cant/wont eat nuts.
Madeleine's don't keep well, so I would not suggest these as a tin filler, but for a special treat, maybe afternoon tea, or with coffee after a meal they are just right. And very easy to make, using no special equipment other than your lovely tins.

Lime Vanilla Madeleine

This recipe makes 24 little cakes

2 eggs
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste (or use vanilla sugar and omit the paste)
1/2 cup plain flour
1 tbsp ground almonds (optional, use an extra tbsp flour if you don't have almonds)
1 tsp baking powder
Grated zest of a lime
95 grams melted butter

Preheat the oven to 180C
Beat the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale. Add the vanilla paste if using and beat again.
Sift in the flour and baking powder, the add the almonds and lime zest (they wont go through the sieve) and fold the mixture together gently. I have come across a few recipes that say beat in the flour but I think this gives you tough cakes and funny peaks when they are cooked.
Add the melted butter and fold in. Spoon about a dessertspoon  of the mixture into your tins, which you have first buttered and floured. I just use a pastry brush dipped in the melted butter and brushed all over the tins. Then using a tea strainer or a teaspoon sprinkle over some flour and shake the excess out over the sink. This stops the cakes sticking.

Cook for 7-10 minutes until the cakes are coloured but not too dark. They will start to pull away ever so slightly from the tins. Leave to cool for a few minutes before using a little knife to gently loosen the edges, before you lift the madeleine's out. You will think they have stuck, but don't stress, they will peel off the tin.

The sponge is beautifully tender, and the delicate shell pattern is really pretty. Not flashy like a cupcake, but understated and not overly sweet. The lime flavour comes through against the vanilla, and the ground almond gives a moistness also. I ate four with a cup of tea, bliss.......

You can buy madeleine tins at kitchenware shops, but do keep a lookout in vintage shops , online auctions and Hospice and Salvation Army shops. Both of these organisations do amazing work in New Zealand, and by shopping at their shops you are supporting that work. I have had recent personal experience of the help Hospice can be at a difficult time, and they deserve every cent that comes their way. 
So take along unwanted items, old clothing, books, housewares etc. You get some extra space, and someone else ultimately benefits. I recently sent along about a hundred food magazines from the last few years. Mind you Mr PK's language was not very charitable when he tried to lift the box into the car.........
Check out this guide to vintage shops in Auckland


  1. Oh gosh - these look gorgeous. I have never tried making Madeleines - I think I always thought they were a "bit tricky", but I've also never owned a Madeleine tin. Looking out for a vintage one is a good idea.

    Belgian biscuits always transport me back to my childhood.

    Sue :-)

  2. Well these sound quite delightful! We may well have to organise another tea party so that we can all taste each other's treats.

  3. These look absolutely, mouthwateringly delicious! It's not at all fair I can only get to view them...I want to taste them, too!

    I used to love baking when I was young(er) - it was never any trouble at all to spend a few hours in the kitchen knocking up all manner of yummy treats. Now I find it a bind to mix up a cheat's packet of shop bought muffin mix!

  4. oh how pretty. My childhood comfort food to my mortal shame is kraft mac and cheese, the proper type with the almost orange colour from america.

  5. Yum! Madeleine, not only the name is stunning, the pastry itself is heavenly.
    Truly worth the price for the extra gizmo :)

  6. What a wonderful gift - beautiful tin and an opportunity to make these delightful treats.

  7. Thanks for the comments everyone, glad you liked the my madeleines:)
    I have never had belgian biscuits Sue, must try them
    Mairi love the idea of another afternoon tea, yummy
    Desiree try these, easy peasy....!
    Ditto Stef, I too was a box Mac n Cheese girl, a treat!
    PFx thanks for visiting, yes, the tins are worth the gizmo space:)
    Bronwnie girl you should see the other goodies she has given me, lovely:)

  8. They have come out splendid! I certainly think gizmos make all the difference even if it just makes us feel better about cooking stuff! Blogging has given me the excuse to buy more stuff to make the photos pretty so thankfully I now have extra space to spread out in!

  9. Thinking of you today :) Head over to Toast where there is a little award waiting for you :)

  10. It was lovely to see you'd popped by and left a comment on my blog. I'm just pooping on over to check up on you and your Mom? I hope you're both coping OK?

  11. That should read...POPPING on over!

  12. Owning madeleine tins has always been a (kitchen)dream of mine :-) Maybe one day... Your's look lovely.


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