Madeleines

I don’t bake very often, but I do enjoy cookies and cake. Madeleines are a french sponge-cake in the shape of scallop shells. You don’t have to have the Madeleine pan, but the shapes are fun and classic. I would recommend some sort of shallow mold, to prevent the cakes from spreading too thin. You should definitely dunk these little cakes in some coffee of tea; it makes them so much better. “That’s no joke.”
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp double-acting baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

To make superfine sugar, just put regular sugar in the food processor and process in long pulses for a few minutes. Melt 8 Tbsp butter and let it cool during the next few steps. Put 3 large eggs in the bowl of your stand mixer, and fill with warm water. Let this sit for a few minutes while you measure the dry ingredients. Drain the bowl of water and break the eggs into the bowl, add 2/3 cup superfine sugar and 1/4 tsp salt and beat on high for a few minutes until it reaches the “ribbon stage” (pale yellow, flows off the beater in a steady stream, like a ribbon). Mix in 2 tsp vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cup flour and 1 tsp double-acting baking powder, then sift and fold into the egg/sugar mixture. Don’t over mix: you want to maintain the structure of the batter (like a souffle), and it will get mixed in the next step. In a slow and steady stream, pour the melted butter into the batter and fold until completely incorporated, then cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Meanwhile butter and flour two Madeleine pans and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Gently mix the chilled batter to pop any large bubbles, then drop a heaping spoonful into each mold. Bake in the oven for 8-9 minutes, switching the position of the pans half way through, until the Madeleines are just brown around the edges. Let the pan cool for a minute or two, then carefully bang the pan on the counter to loosen the cakes. Let the cakes finish cooling on a wire rack, then serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Notes: Substitute the finely chopped zest of one lemon for the vanilla for lemon Madeleines, and add 1 Tbsp poppy seeds for lemon poppy seed Madeleines.

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