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How To Make Authentic French Madeleines

How To Make Authentic French Madeleines

french madeleines recipe

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.

La Madeleine de Proust

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:

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.

french madeleines recipe

The Authentic French Madeleines Recipe

Here is the authentic madeleines recipe, also known as madeleines de Commercy. A delicious and easy French recipe for breakfast or brunch.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 6 people


  • 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!


Depending on your taste, you can replace the lemon zest with 1 tablespoon of rum or orange blossom water for example. One more thing! Madeleines are delicious when eaten just from the oven and cooled until barely warm. They will keep for a day or two in an airtight container but will start to lose that nice crisp texture after a while. Madeleines are simply at their best when super fresh.
Keyword cakes

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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View Comment (1)
  • was a young pre teen boy in Clermont Ferrand France when my mum showed me how to prepare and make them. she asked me if she could have some and they just vanished. it was a good day and i am now in my 70s plus and living on Australia Brisbane.

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