For my birthday, a good friend of mine gave me a book on Japanese patisserie by James Campbell. It’s a stunning book with beautiful photographs of high-end patisserie, a lot of which is way beyond my culinary ability. However, these madeleines caught my eye; very easy to make, exotic flavours and I already had matcha powder and pink peppercorns in the cupboard. All I had to do was to wait for an excuse to make them.
Two things happened in the same week. First, a colleague told me it was her birthday and then another colleague gave me a gift of an edible gold spray, goldas in real gold! So out came the madeleine recipe. It was really very straight forward. I used the spray to add a bit of birthday sparkle to the tops of the madeleines. Admittedly, madeleines are probably not the ideal vehicle for edible gold spray as the contrast of the colour was not strong enough. However, the birthday girl was delighted with her luxurious, exotic madeleines.
150g unsalted butter
50g ground almonds
¾ tablespoon matcha powder
50g plain flour
150g egg whites (about 4 large eggs)
½ teaspoon pink peppercorns, ground
12 cherries, halved with the stones removed
First make a buerre noisette (browned butter).
Put the diced butter in a saucepan and set over a medium-high heat for around
5-7 minutes until melted and boiling. The fat at the bottom of the pan should
go a nutty-brown colour, but be careful this does not darken too much and burn.
Transfer the browned butter immediately to a heatproof dish and set aside to
cool until just warm.
In a separate bowl, sift together the ground almonds,
matcha powder and flour.
In another bowl, whisk together the egg whites with
the sugar until frothy.
Carefully fold the dry ingredients, the buerre
noisette and ground pink peppercorns into the sugar and egg mixture until fully
incorporated and no lumps remain. Transfer the mixture to the fridge to chill
for at least an hour. You can also put the madeleine tins, greased with butter
and dusted with flour into the freezer.
Preheat the oven to 180C/ Gas 4.
Put the chilled madeleine mixture into a piping
bag and pipe in enough to almost fill the prepared tin. Alternatively, you can
spoon the mixture in.
I’m still experimenting with bergamot. I have a very special cake coming up and I want to nail this flavour. I’m finding it tricky to get the EarlGrey flavour to come through without being overpowering. When I made the batter, I thought the flavour was quite strong, but when the madeleines baked, the flavour wasn’t as pronounced as I would have liked it to be. I’lladd more zest next time. Having said that, I think my aunties for whom I made these tasty morsels will be happy with the flavour profile; not everyone is a bergamot fan.
I made the madeleines with my new mini madeleine tins which I bought in Corbridge, a beautiful village in Northumberlandwith a great cook shop. I hadn’t used this type of tray before, so I was guessing how long to leave the madeleines in the oven. The first batch was in for 10 minutes and were golden brown, but to be honest they were a bit dry. The second batch came out slightly paler as I brought them out after 8 minutes. They were perfect. I think it depends on your oven as to how long to keep them in for. The normal sized madeleines are usually baked for 9-10 minutes.
90g unsalted butter
2 tsp honey
2 large eggs
75g caster sugar
1and ½ tsp bergamot zest. (Use 2 tsp if you prefer a stronger flavour)
90g plain flour plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp icing sugar
1-2 tsp bergamot juice
You can follow David Leibovitz’s suggestion and grease then flour the tins and put them in the freezer for an hour. This is supposed to create the characteristic bump on the back of the shell. However, the cakes will taste just as good if you don’t freeze the tins.
Place the butter and honey in a small saucepan over a low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and set aside to come to room temperature.
Place the eggs, sugar, and bergamot zest in a food processor and mix until smooth and combined. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, then add to the egg mixture. Pulse a few times, just to mix in, and add the cooled butter and honey mixture. Process once more to combine, then pour the batter into a small bowl. Cover with cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. If you are using metal madeleine trays, brush the moulds with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with flour. Silicone trays should not need any greasing or flouring, but you can lightly brush with a little melted butter if you like. Tap to ensure that all the moulds are dusted and then shake off the excess flour. If you have put the trays in the freezer, you can take them out now.
Spoon a heaped teaspoon of batter into each mould: it should rise two-thirds of the way up the sides of the moulds. If you only have one madeleine tray, place the remaining batter in the fridge until you have baked the first batch. You will need to wash and dry the mould completely before greasing and flouring again and repeating with the second batch.
Bake for 8 minutes, until the madeleines are beginning to brown around the edges and they spring back once tapped lightly in the middle. Remove the tray(s) from the oven and set aside for a minute before releasing the cakes. The best way to do this with a metal tray, is to go around the edges of each madeleine with a small knife or spatula (to make sure they are not stuck) and then tap the edge of the tray on the bench until they fall out. With a silicone tray they should just fall out of their moulds. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool.
Add a little of the bergamot juice to the icing sugar and mix. If you add too much juice, the icing sugar will just sink into the madeleines rather than forming a white coat. Also, as you add the juice, check you like the flavour. You should be able to taste the bergamot, but it should not be bitter. When you are happy with the consistency, dip the narrow end of the madeleine into it and leave to dry.