Salt, Pepper and a Dollop of Cream

One Woman's Journey through Her Cookbooks

The Quest for the Perfect Madeleine


I’ve always liked the look of madeleines. The distinctive shell shaped sponge is so appealing that ever since I saw them in my first cookbook, I’ve meant to give them a try. On a recent mini shopping spree, I spied a Madeleine pan amongst a stack of pans and of course, I had to buy it {if there had been two I would have bought both}. Then lo and behold, Michel Roux Jr showed how to make them on BBC’s Food and Drink show. Destiny!

Madeleines are a small sponge cake from Lorraine, France, traditionally made using a génoise cake batter and are flavoured with either vanilla or lemon. Traditional recipes include ground almonds though I’ve yet to find a recipe with them listed. The sponge batter is simple to make with eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, flavouring and lots of melted butter. Recipes vary in terms of amounts of egg, flour and sugar with no two being exactly alike; some say two eggs to 100g of flour, others 150g of flour so I think it’s a case of trial and error to find a recipe that suits your palette and your oven. More on that later!

Never going for the easy option {i.e. downloading Michel’s recipe} I opened a relatively new addition to my library, Ginette Mathiot’s the Art of French Baking {Phaidon} and made my first batch. This particular recipe called for standing the sponge batter in the fridge for two hours which meant that the batter was very stiff and difficult to measure when putting in the prepared tin. Madeleines cook anywhere between 8-10 minutes but I took my eye off the ball and the madeleines overcooked. The bottom of the sponges turned into biscuits while the tops were just fine. It didn’t stop us eating them though!

The next day, I decided to try again, this time using an old recipe from my Good Housekeeping cookbook. Ingredient quantities were different to the previous day’s recipe and the mix was enough for nearly two tins. The tin was prepared with melted vegetable fat and a dusting of flour. This time, I sat on the floor watching the sponges cook. Much, much better! I think the fat made a difference, why I don’t know but I’m going to prepare the tin this way from now on.

Today, I decided to have another go, this time making Michel Roux Jr’s version with a slight difference – I used lemon extract rather than real lemon juice and rind as I don’t have unwaxed lemons in my possession at the moment. I left the mix to stand for more than 20 mins and then sat like a hawk watching them bake. 8 minutes to perfection. I got 20 madeleines out of the mix so I’m very pleased with that. I don’t know how they would turn out using lemon juice as stated in the recipe but I’m delighted with mine!

  • Lesson #1 Buy another Madeleine pan as the mix is enough for two batches
  • Lesson #2 Keep a close eye when baking as the top of the sponges should be PALE!!!

If you would like to try Michel Roux Jr’s recipe for Madeleines, follow the link here:

Michel Roux Jr’s Madeleines {BBC Food}


Xx Paula

4 comments on “The Quest for the Perfect Madeleine

  1. crystaltrenary
    March 7, 2013

    These look wonderful! Looking forward to reading more from you. 🙂

  2. Liz
    April 3, 2013

    These look so yummy, you have great photos in this blog. Makes me want to pick it and eat it right away. I love your blog!

    • Thanks Liz! You have got to try these. I have read that these are best eaten straight away but i think that was just an excuse to dive in as soon as they came out of the oven! So be prepared for how quickly they disappear! Xx Paula

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on March 5, 2013 by in Baking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Irish Food Bloggers Association

Member of the Irish Food Bloggers Association

%d bloggers like this: