Madeleines are famous French little cakes (some refer them as cookies) with a shell-like shape and characteristic dome on the back. These buttery cakes are crispy around the edges yet soft and spongy inside. I bought a new over-sized madeleine pan during my Hong Kong trip. Each cavity had a capacity of 60 ml so my madeleines were almost as big as cupcakes. With this new pan I also prepared batter with various resting periods in order to compare the results.
I’ve compared batter that had been rested for 2, 4 and 18 hours. Batter used within the same day (2 and 4 hour resting time) produced bigger cracks when baked. The bumps looked like small little slopes that rose gradually from the edge of the madeleine to the center. The flavor was more like pound cake. Batter that had been rested overnight (18 hours resting time) baked up calmly in the oven and produced the classic bumps on the back. The bump looked like Chinese gold ingot that was flat around the edges. Texture of cake was more refined. It seems that patience is the key when it comes to making perfect madeleines.
I found that madeleines tend to be dry if not served immediately. My solution was to add maple syrup for moisture. I also enriched the flavor with orange zests. To maximize the aroma, make sure to rub the zest with sugar to release the essential oils from the zest.
Maple Orange Madeleines
Makes 6 (60-ml capacity)
100 g cake and pastry flour, plus extra for preparing pan
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, large
80 g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for preparing pan
30 g granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
40 g maple syrup
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
Powdered sugar for dusting
Notes: The eggs I use are about 50 g each without shells.
Wash orange then pat dry. Zest while avoiding the white pith as it tastes bitter. In a small bowl, rub sugar and orange zest with fingertips until sugar is moist and fragrant (the rubbing helps to release all of the essential oils within the zest). Set aside.
In another bowl sift and whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Melt butter in the microwave. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat eggs, zested sugar and syrup in a mixing bowl until mixture is slightly thick and turns pale.
Fold flour mixture into the egg mixture with a whisk in two batches until incorporated.
Fold in melted butter in two additions until thoroughly combined. Batter will be smooth and shiny. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight.
About one hour before baking, lightly grease and flour the madeleine pan. Tap off excess flour. Keep in the freezer until ready to use.
Spoon about 3 tablespoons of chilled batter into pan (I used an ice-cream scoop). Bake in a 400℉/200℃ preheated oven for 5 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350℉/180℃ and continue baking until the madeleines are golden brown at the edges and spring back when lightly pressed in the centers, about 13 minutes more for my oven. Please adjust time and settings according to your own oven.
Let madeleines cool in pan for 5 minutes then invert the madeleines onto a wire rack to cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
The batter with a 2-hour resting period baked up like a muffin top.
The batter with a 18-hour resting period produced madeleines with the signature bumps.
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