Monday, May 19, 2014

Making Madeleines

On our first Christmas together, B. got me two trays of madeleine molds.  I didn't use them right away because I had never made madeleines before, but after about 6 months of disuse, he told me he would make me a batch.  I'm normally the baker in the house, so it was nice to be spoiled by him.  We used the recipe that had come with the trays, but it wasn't quite what we were looking for.
This week, my husband decided it was time to make madeleines again, so I looked up a recipe online.  One of the first recipes I stumbled upon was Dorie Greenspan.  Her recipes are quite popular among food bloggers and her pictures showed a very big "hump" -- which is very desirable in madeleines.  We had not had humps in our last homemade batch, so I was interested in trying her recipe and her method.

We were quite pleased with our results, and when B. brought some to his office to share with co-workers, he said they enjoyed them as well.  This recipe is not at all intimidating, and I'm glad we decided to try it.  I have no idea why it took me so long to get around to making them, but homemade madeleines are a lovely treat.

I did, of course, alter a few things.  First, the original recipe calls for lemon zest.  I never buy lemons because they're more expensive than limes.  These past few months, however, we've been eating a lot of oranges, and whenever I buy particularly beautiful citrus from a good source, I will wash them, zest them, and freeze the zest for uses in baking, cocktails (mocktails for me; cocktails for B.), cooking, and so on.  So I had orange zest on hand.  I eyeballed out what I thought was the appropriate amount for one orange (though really, this depends on how well you zest your fruit... on cooking shows when I watch them zest, I am appalled by how much they waste).  I thought the orange flavor was beautiful and I will be repeating the recipe this way from now on.

Second, I used a hand blender (also called an immersion or stick blender) to really chop up the zest and mix it with the sugar and egg.  I thought this helped infuse the flavor, but it's probably not a necessary step.

Third, I highly recommend browning the butter.  This will add a complexity to the flavor, and since you have to melt the butter anyhow, you might as well do it on the stove and make the house smell like magic.

Fourth, I would also highly recommend sifting your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients to prevent lumps.  I did not do this the first time and I think the texture is far better when you sift.  This will also help you in that you won't have to stir as much.

Fifth, this is a nit picky thing, but I always mix salt with sugar in my wet ingredients, as I think this makes the distribution of flavor better than having salt be with the dry ingredients.  I never know why recipe writers always insist on coupling salt with baking soda/baking powder and flour.  Also, I always used salted butter.  Yes it adds more salt, but I think it also adds more flavor.  I almost never use unsalted butter and if I do, it's normally because I ran out of the salted kind.

Orange Scented Madeleines
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe

Yields 12-18 large/medium sized madeleines

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
Pinch of salt   (I used kosher sea salt)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons; 3 ounces) salted butter, melted, browned, and cooled

Making the batter:  Sift together the flour and baking powder set aside.

Working in a mixer bowl, rub the sugar, salt, and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl and beat together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, about 2 to 3 minutes.
**Alternatively, use a stick/immersion blender to combine the sugar, zest, and eggs. Once not large pieces of zest are visible, switch to a mixer.

Beat in the vanilla and the browned butter.

Gently fold the dry ingredients from the first step into your wet ingredients. Use a large spatula to fold until combined.

Resting phase:  Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter (this prevents a "skin" from forming) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  You can even do this overnight!

Butter 12 full-size shell-shaped madeleine molds (or up to 36 mini madeleine molds), dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. If you have silicone madeleine molds, you can prep with a light coating of butter and flour is desired, or simply use as is.

Spoon the batter into the prepared madeleine molds.  If you previously only refrigerated for 1-2 hours, this is where I would recommend refrigerating again for about 1 hour if you have time.  If you also let the batter rest in the fridge for more than 3 hours, then you can go right to baking!

When you are ready to bake: Preheat your oven to 400F with a large baking sheet on the middle rack.  Let the baking sheet get hot with the oven.  This is important.

Once the oven is hot, take your filled madeleine mold(s) out of the fridge.  Open the oven, carefully take out the hot baking sheet, place the madeleine mold(s) on the sheet and pop it straight into the oven, middle rack.

Depending on the size of your madeleine molds and whether your molds are metal or silicone, your baking time will range from 11-20 minutes.  Silicone molds will take a bit longer to bake.

Your madeleines are ready when they are golden and spring back when your press down lightly.
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don’t worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven’s heat will do that.

Eating:  Madeleines are best eaten on the day that they are made.  Some people like to serve them with confectioner's sugar dusted on top, but I don't think it's necessary.

Storage:  You can keep them in a sealed container (or even in an unsealed container if you forgot to close it... whoops!), but they taste best within two days of baking.
If you have any extras, they will keep in the freezer (in a container) for about 2 months.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds amazing. Also sounds easier than flying to France, going to Champion and buying St. Michel's bags of madeleines.