Here is the authentic French madeleines recipe! Madeleines are one of France’s most beloved desserts. The French regularly eat madeleines, a soft mini sponge cake made with eggs, flour, sugar, and butter. They always have a distinctive shell shape with tapered edges, smooth on one side and bumpy on the other. They are often eaten with a coffee in the morning, or at 4 pm for the “goûter”, the French equivalent of the British afternoon tea.
What are madeleines?
The madeleine is a traditional small cake from Commercy and Liverdun, two communes of the Lorraine region in northeastern France. Madeleines are very small sponge cakes with a distinctive shell-like shape acquired from being baked in pans with shell-shaped depressions. To make madeleines, a génoise cake batter is used. The flavor is similar to but somewhat lighter than, sponge cake. Traditional recipes include very finely ground nuts, usually almonds. A variation uses lemon zest for a pronounced lemony taste.
A brief history of the French madeleine
The town of Commercy in Lorraine is very heavily associated with the madeleine and legend has it that it first appeared here in the 1700s. A young girl called Madeleine stood in as pastry chef to the Duke of Lorraine, Stanislas Leszczyński, and the only thing she knew how to make was her grandmother’s recipe. Everyone loved them, and the “madeleine” was born.
Louis XV made madeleines very famous at Versaille. The story is that King Louis XV first tasted madeleines on a visit to Lorraine and was very much smitten. He gave them to his wife, Marie, who in turn, introduced them to the French court.
In the 1920s, French writer Marcel Proust wrote about madeleines in his autobiographical novel, À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (also known as In Search of Lost Time). Proust wrote about how he ate a madeleine dipped in tea and memories of his childhood came flooding back. The taste and smell reminded him unconsciously of his youth. The implication was that everyone has their own madeleine memory; you smell or taste something in the present and memories of the past come to life again.
The madeleine pan
To make this recipe, you will need a madeleine pan. If you don’t already own one, here’re the four best madeleine molds that are used by French Chefs:
- Le Creuset Moule à 12 Madeleines Pâtiliss
- De Buyer Madeleines Silicone Mold
- Gobel Steel Madeleine Sheet Pan, Made in France
- Tefal Crispy Bake Madeleines Mold
It also really helps to have a pastry brush to coat the pans with the butter and flour mixture. But aside from that, no special tools are required to make madeleines.
The Authentic French Madeleines Recipe
- 125 g unsalted butter
- 125 g all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbsp whole milk
- 6 g baking powder
- 100 g brown sugar
- zest of 1 organic lemon
- In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat and set it aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar. Then add the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, milk, and melted butter, mix well. Cover and refrigerate the batter for at least 1 hour.
- Use a pastry brush, and coat each mold in the madeleine pan well with melted butter. Preheat your oven to 210°C (thermostat 7) or 410°F. Fill your madeleine molds with the preparation and bake for about 10 min. This recipe makes about 16 madeleines, bake in two separate batches if you only have one madeleine pan. The madeleines are done when the edges are slightly browned and the top humps spring back after lightly pressed with your finger.
- Invert the pan onto a kitchen towel, and transfer the madeleines to a wire rack to slightly cool. These are best served immediately when they are still warm, dust with powdered sugar. Bon appétit!
I hope you’ll enjoy this French madeleines recipe as much as I do! If you do this recipe let me know what you think in the comment section below. Bon appétit!
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Leonce is the founder and editor of Leonce Chenal, a lifestyle platform launched in 2018. Originally from France, Leonce offers a fresh perspective that comes from her experience at top tech companies in Paris and London. Having spent several years in Paris and now residing in Amsterdam, she combines her professional expertise with a personal passion for French and Parisian styles. Leonce is committed to guiding her readers through the intricacies of Parisian chic, empowering them to embrace the elegance and sophistication of French style.