I tried making Madeleines ages and ages ago, to a recipe I can't remember, and not very successfully. I put it down to using a silicon baking mould for the madeleines, but it might just have been a bit of a rubbish recipe. I can't even remember what was wrong with them - I think they didn't really rise very well and refused to take any colour at all. It was a most frustrating experience and I gave up.
A good while later my interest in Madeleines was again prodded with this beautifully photographed and written post by Joanna @Zeb_Bakes about her Limeblossom Tea and Madeleines. And then as a final reminder, I saw Dan Lepard's recipe for them in Short and Sweet. I was obviously intending to make these because I bought a Madeleine mould ages ago - a metal one this time. I bought mine from Lakeland, but a brief warning - the mould is actually quite wide and just barely fits into my oven - it's more a case of balancing it on the runners at the edge of the oven than placing it on the shelf. I think this means it's likely to get very scratched at the edges, which is a shame. There is a version of Dan's recipe here, but the quantities in the book are really quite different, for all of the ingredients! So not really the same recipe at all, although I think the method is similar. A case of having to buy the book.
He has a very helpful tip about getting the characteristic 'nipple' that is seen on Madeleines. Adding a tiny little piece of cold butter before they go into the oven will allow the nipple to form. I cut up my butter and then put it into the freezer as I prepared the rest of the batter, removing it just before adding it to the mixture in the moulds. I did find that I had a little too much batter for my moulds, perhaps had I added less I would have got the characteristic thin, crispy edge to the cakes. I don't mind though!
Not all that easy to see in the photos - the front one is the second batch - the back ones are the overdone ones - much more obvious in real life.
I had to make these twice. The first time, they rose beautifully, peaking and so forth, but I think my oven has a tendency to run hot at the top end of its range, and even though I removed them at 9 1/2 minutes with my oven set at just over 200C/just over Gas 6 they were really quite overdone (the recipe specifies 10 minutes at Gas 7/220C). The second time I set the timer for 7 1/2 minutes, which was much, much more successful - no more overdone Madeleines for me! In fact, they might even have come out a little earlier.
I was really pleased with the way these looked - beautiful little peaks and nice soft, tender cakes. I think I perhaps needed to add a little salt to the recipe, and be rather more generous with my flavourings (I think I only added 1tsp of vanilla rather than the specified 2tsp the second time I made them). These are a great starting recipe to give the correct result aesthetically, so it should be fairly easy to ramp up the flavours in them. Lots of spring flavours come to mind - elderflower, lemons, honey (ok, honey isn't really spring) or perhaps even chocolate substituting some of the flour for cocoa powder. Endless opportunities for variations. After all, now I have the shaped tin I need to use it!
On a slightly odd, personal, side note... my paternal grandmother was called Madeleine. I never met her, but I wonder if she ever ate these delicate cakes and what she would have made of them. All the pictures I have seen of her show her as being very elegant, and I can imagine her sitting down to afternoon tea, playing Bridge (popular in my family!) and eating these in a bygone era.
As these begin with an M I'm submitting them to AlphaBakes, run by Ros at The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline of Caroline Makes. Caroline is hosting this month and the letter this month is (unsurprisingly) M.