How to make honey madeleines…

Two things are consuming most of my thoughts at the moment – planning my upcoming road trip in France (I’ll tell you about that another time) and finishing the first draft of my current manuscript (working title Happy Ever After). As an aside, if you’ve ever wanted to know the mechanics behind writing and publishing a book, I’m blogging this one week-by-week on a Wednesday. The series is here.

As things tend to do with me, the two have combined a little with my protagonist Kate Spence making a batch of the honey madeleines I baked last weekend.

These happened quite accidentally and coincidentally. You see we’d been watching the first episode of Bake-Off on telly earlier in the week and I happened to mention that madeleines (the subject of that week’s technical challenge) were something I’d always wanted to have a go at, but couldn’t because I didn’t have a madeleine pan.  Then I forgot all about it – as I tend to do.

On Saturday I was all set to make a ginger and pear frangipane style tart, so decided that I absolutely needed a long fluted tart tin. I couldn’t find one, but I did come home with a Madeline tin – and we had madeleines instead.

Although madeleines look simple, they’re actually not. You really do need the tin and you really do need to take the butter to just this side of burnt – it needs to be nutty brown.

Speaking of the butter, rather than creaming it with the sugar and then adding the eggs and finally the flour as you do with most batters, with madeleines the butter is added last.

Finally, the batter needs to sit in the fridge for at least an hour but preferably longer. Some people would say to pop it in the fridge overnight. Kate, my character, made hers in the morning so that when her friend dropped by in the afternoon she could simply pour the batter into the trays and pop them in the oven. I allowed it to rest just a few hours.

Why does the batter need to rest? At the risk of making your eyes glaze over, it’s about allowing time for the gluten to relax and the flour to be hydrated – it makes the batter thicker and gives the madeleines their distinctive little hump. Some people say that chilling your buttered (and floured) tin also helps with this. I’m not sure about that.

Anyways, this recipe is for honey madeleines. It’s a touch of sweetness that works perfectly with the lemony syrup that you spoon or brush over the top of them. For the pic I dusted a couple with icing sugar.

And the recipe? You’ll find it here. It’s from Darren Purchese’s book “Lamingtons and Lemon Tarts.”

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