Oscar informed me this morning that he was going to make Madeleines, the French scallop shaped teacake that Proust has made so famous. He said he had promised all of his teachers to give them some. Oscar has loved madeleines since we lived in Berkeley where they are commonly sold at Starbucks. A couple of weeks ago, he asked me to buy him some but I told him that I had never seen any here in Sweden. I then mentioned that we had a madeleine pan and that we could make them. He said no more about it and I assumed he forgot, but this morning I understood I was wrong! He asked me to buy the ingredients and so I googled madeleines and found a myriad of recipies. I read blogs about the cakes which discussed at length whether or not to refrigerate the dough over night and whether you must freeze the pans. The size of the bump seems to be important, though it is unclear what size the bump should actually be. It all looked daunting and I felt a bit tired before I even started.
Finally, I found two recipes that interested me. One was by Martha Stewart which used cardamom and orange instead of the traditional lemon as flavoring. The second was in Epicurious and this one I liked for its simplicity. No refrigerating the dough, no messing about with the pans, and no bump discussions.
Oscar and I made both kinds, traditionally flavored with lemon, and ones made with orange and cardamom. They turned out to be easily made; the batter only took a few minutes to put together. Both flavors were delicious, particularly when hot straight out of the oven, which is the way I believe they are intended to be eaten. Slightly crispy on the molded side and tender on the other side. Most recipes say to dust with powdered sugar but they did not need the extra sweetening.
The Martha Stewart recipe specified a simple orange juice and powdered sugar glaze to brush over the finished cakes. If I thought that the cakes would last more than an hour in my house or I was making them in advance, I would be tempted to do this because I suspect it would help keep them fresher. But it is gilding the lily.
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel or orange peel
½ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
1 cup all purpose flour
10 tablespoons (140 grams) butter
Powdered sugar, if you like
Preheat oven to 350°F (175 c). Generously butter and flour pan for madeleines). In a small pan, melt the butter with the lemon or orange peel and cardamom, if you are using it. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs and 2/3 cup sugar with a whisk just to blend. Beat in vanilla, and salt. Add flour; beat just until blended. Gradually add cooled melted butter in steady stream, beating just until blended.
Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each indentation in pan, so that is almost completely filled. A small icecream scooper makes this an easier job. Bake until puffed and brown at the edges, about 10 to 15 minutes. Gently remove from pan. Repeat process, buttering and flouring pan before each batch.
Dust cookies with powdered sugar, if you wish.
*A metal mold with scallop-shaped indentations, sold at cookware stores. If you are using a non-stick pan, then you do not need to flour the pan.