When Susan and I were recently in Paris, we tried different pastries with the view of trying to replicate them on our return. This included lemon Madeleines from Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann.
The French lemon Madeleines were not only pitiful to look at, but also dry and tasteless. I was pretty sure that I could do better!
In addition to the visits to different pâtissiers, we visited my very favorite cookware shop – E.Dehillerine on Rue Coquillière in the Les Halles area. If you saw the movie Julie & Julia, you may remember a scene where Julia and friend were shopping in a cookware shop. That was E.Dehillerine.
One of my purchases from E.Dehillerine was a mini Madeleine pan which I thought would be perfect for the lemon Madeleines. As it turned out, the mini Madeleines, although delicious (the Master Taste Tester finished them off in one sitting!), were not as impressive as the regular sized ones. Therefore, after making one pan of the mini’s, I used the rest of the batter with a regular sized Madeleine pan.
The recipe that I used was from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi. Everything that I’ve made from this wonderful cookbook has been outstanding. The lemon Madeleines were no exception!
The ingredients included all purpose flour, baking powder, fine sea salt, granulated sugar, lemon zest, eggs, honey, vanilla extract, unsalted butter, and whole milk.
I started by whisking together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Then, I added the sugar and lemon zest to a large bowl, and rubbed them together with my fingertips until the sugar was moist and fragrant.
Before baking the lemon Madeleines, I pressed a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter, and refrigerated it for about an hour. After an hour, I sprayed the Madeleine pan with non-stick baking spray and filled the molds about ¾ full with the batter. I refrigerated the filled pan for another hour. When time came to bake the Madeleines, I put a heavy baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and preheated it to 400° F. When the oven reached temperature, I removed the filled Madeleine pan from the refrigerator and placed it on the hot baking sheet for about 11 minutes, until the lemon Madeleines were golden brown. According to Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, the reason for following this procedure was to mimic the heat of a baker’s hearth oven, the way that a pizza stone does. Interestingly, this procedure kept the Madeleines from over-browning.
When they were done, I removed the lemon Madeleines from the oven, and turned them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
The recipe that I used indicated that optionally, the lemon Madeleines could be glazed with a simple lemon juice/confectioners’ sugar glaze. They were so good plain that I almost didn’t bother with the glaze. That would have been a huge mistake!
After whisking together the lemon juice and the confectioners’ sugar, I dipped the top of the Madeleines in the glaze, and placed them on a wire rack that was placed over a baking sheet.
The glazed Madeleines went into a preheated 500° F oven for several minutes during which time the glaze melted and coated the top of the Madeleines. I was amazed at the transformation of the glaze – it was shiney and non-sticky.
I ended up with 13 regular sized lemon Madeleines that were the best I’ve made so far. At some point, I might try the mini Madeleine pan again, but will definitely use this recipe, and will definitely go the extra step with the glaze. Rather than only glazing half of the Madeleines like I did this time, I’ll glaze all of them. Yum!
For the Madeleines
⅔ cup (3.17 ounces, 90 grams) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fleur de sel or a pinch of fine sea salt
⅓ cup (2.36 ounces, 67 grams) granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick (8 Tablespoons, 4 ounces, 113 grams) unsalted butter, melted & still warm
2 Tablespoons whole milk
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)
For the Glaze (Optional)
½ cup (2.11 ounces, 60 grams) confectioners’ sugar
About 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
To Make the Madeleines: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
Working in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs, and beat on high with an electric mixer until the egg/sugar mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. When the mixture leaves tracks, beat in the honey and vanilla extract. Using a flexible spatula, fold in the dry ingredients, folding only until they disappear into the batter. Finally, fold in the warm melted butter, and when it’s incorporated, the milk. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and chill for at least 1 hour. (The batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
An hour or so before baking, spray the molds of a 12-shell madeleine pan with baker’s non-stick spray. Spoon the batter into the molds – don’t worry about spreading it evenly; the oven’s heat will take care of that – and refrigerate for 1 hour more.
When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven, put a large heavy baking sheet on the rack and preheat the oven to 400° F. Place the madeleine pan on the hot baking sheet and bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and the big bumps on their tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow the madeleines to cool to room temperature. If not glazing, dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired.
To Glaze the Madeleines: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 500° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil and put a cooling rack on it.
Put the confectioners’ sugar in a bowl that’s large enough to allow you to dip the madeleines into the glaze. Whisk in the lemon juice a little at a time until the glaze is about as thick as heavy cream.
One by one, dip (don’t soak) the bump side of each madeleine in the glaze and put them bump side up on the cooling rack. Slide them into the oven, close the door and stay put: It takes 1 to 3 minutes for the glaze to melt and coat the madeleines, and you want to be there to pull them out of the oven at the first sign of a bubble in the glaze. Remove from the oven and transfer the madeleines to another cooling rack. Cool completely. Yield: 12 Lemon Madeleines.