These are an elegant respite to London’s cold, dark weather of late. Madeleines are buttery and spongy, miniature cakes baked in shell-shaped molds. While a traditional tea-time treat in France, they are well-suited to any warm beverage on a cold, gray day.
The batter for madeleines is very similar to a genoise cake. They are traditionally leavened by trapping air into the batter by whipping the eggs, then gently folding in the remaining ingredients, trying preserve as much air in the batter as possible. When the batter is baked, the heat causes the trapped air bubbles to expand, adding volume to the cake. While not traditional I have added baking powder for some chemical leavening. The cakes benefit from an extra bit of rise and it can help hide a bit of over-mixing.
While Genoise does not often have much fat added to the batter apart from the yolk of the eggs, madeleines are made richer with the addition of butter. More traditional madeleines may be flavored with browned butter, or beurre noisette. But here, I’ve opted to add zesty bitterness by way of Earl Grey tea, and some honey to sweeten them back up.
Madeleines are delicately structured cakes and stale quickly. Though I doubt they will last long enough to stale anyway.
Earl Grey Madeleines
Yields 12 madeleines.
80g melted butter
2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Infuse the butter with the tea:
Melt the butter and add the Earl Grey tea. Let it steep for 10 minutes, then strain the butter through a fine mesh sieve lined with 2 layers of damp cheesecloth. Make sure to squeeze out as much of the flavored butter as possible.
Mix the dry ingredients:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whip the eggs:
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and slowly pour in the sugar in a steady stream. Whisk the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until thick, pale and about tripled in volume, about 4 minutes.
To test if it is ready, let some of the mixture fall from the whisk. It should fall into the bowl in a ribbon that rests on the surface for about 10 seconds.
Whisk in the vanilla extract, honey and lemon zest.
Add the dry ingredients:
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the whipped egg mixture and very gently fold to combine. Stop as soon as it is incorporated.
Pour in the flavored butter:
Fold in the flavored butter, stopping as soon as it is incorporated.
Refrigerate the batter:
Cover the batter with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to a day. While they can be baked right away, if you have the time the texture improves if you let the batter chill.
Fill the molds and bake:
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Brush the Madeleine molds with butter and sprinkle with flour. Tap out the excess flour.
Fill the molds 2/3 to 3/4 full, about a tablespoon. There should be just enough for 12 madeleines, or a little extra.
Bake the madeleines for 10 minutes, until they are golden.
Unmold the madeleines:
Tap the pan sharply on a work surface to loosen the madeleines and turn out to cool on a rack.
Enjoy them warm or at room temperature. But hurry, they do not last long.