I use our soft cake and pastry flour milled from English organic wheats for this recipe, which creates a lovely soft crumb and delicate rise in these bite-sized morsels of cake. Flavoured with a little honey, orange zest and buerre noisette these are deliciously simple, and best eaten whilst still a little warm from the oven with a cup of tea or coffee. As the batter can be rested for some time, it’s easy to whip up a batch of the mixture and leave it chilling in the fridge, then when you’re ready simply bake it off for your guests to ensure maximum freshness.
Traditionally, madeleines were thought to have been made without any baking powder, using egg-whites as the raising agent. If you’re particularly keen to achieve more of the exaggerated “bump” that these little cakes are famous for then you can add half a teaspoon of baking powder when you add the flour, to help them on their way. I personally quite like the idea of keeping the recipe truer to its original form and don’t usually bother with the baking powder myself – you can still achieve a fair bit of rise without it, although perhaps not quite as much.
I like to add just a touch of Demerara sugar for a little caramelised flavour, but use mostly caster sugar to keep the mixture as light as possible. If you don’t have Demerara sugar to hand, just use all caster sugar instead.
Makes 48 small or 24 larger sized madeleines (will vary dependent on your moulds)
Melt your butter over a medium-high heat in a small saucepan for a couple of minutes until it turns a light golden brown and starts to foam. Once the butter separates into golden yellow liquid and creamy solids remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.
Whisk the eggs with the sugars in a mixing bowl until creamy, and significantly increased in volume to roughly two or three times its original size. Add the honey, orange zest, vanilla and salt, and then slowly pour in the butter, whisking all the time until combined. Sift your flour to remove any lumps, then gently fold it into the mixture. (Add the baking powder at the same time, if you’re using it.)
Cover and chill in the fridge for 45 minutes – 1 hour, to give the flour time to hydrate while the batter rests. If you want to chill it overnight and give it a bit longer this works well too.
While the batter is resting, prepare your madeleine moulds. Grease them with butter, and then lightly dust them with flour. I use non-stick moulds to make it easier to remove them without damaging the shell shape.
When you are ready to bake your madeleines, preheat your oven to 180ºC. Spoon the batter into the moulds, filling each one roughly three-quarters full and leaving them room to expand and rise. Bake in the oven for 5-9 minutes, until risen and golden. They should be firm and springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack, and eat as soon as you like! These are really best eaten on the day of making and go stale quite quickly, but can be stored for a day or so in an airtight container.
For a little shine, sometimes I glaze these just before serving by melting two teaspoons of honey with two teaspoons of butter, and then thinly brushing it over the top (entirely optional).