Speaking of these madeleines, I actually made them quite a while back--well before I started working. Gosh! About a month ago!? Yea, now that you know I'm a darn slow blogger with tons of back logs to clear ... =.=" ... I've actually been wanting to make madeleines since I was in the States. Too bad, it was really hard for me to get a hold of so many bakewares locally such as madeleine molds, financier molds, Pullman loaf tins (I'll try to talk about my bread baking with Pullman loaf tins soon ... So, stay tuned!), and a proper pastry bag with all those tips even though it was somewhere in the U.S. (For a country with such a great passion for baking, I personally feel that this kind of situation shouldn't happen. Never mind, those are history! I'm now back home in the big city!)
Then not too long after I got back to Malaysia, my itchy body and mind decided to go and shop at baking supplies stores. To my delight, I found silicone madeleine molds at one of the largest baking supplies stores in Malaysia. (Oh yes! You can tell I'm an addict of that store. They're very happy to see me there ... hehe ...!) I was over the moon that I immediately called my mom because both of us have been searching all over the place for madeleine molds!
To my dismay, I only came to realize that these molds actually stick to the finished products even though it claims to be silicone. I think I got conned! *Fainted* So, I learned my lesson and in the future, I'm going to grease and flour the molds--and, not to get conned! Of course, my best friend from high school who is in Taiwan (臺灣) now will help me track a few things down ... including madeleine molds hahaha! Thanks C! (Can't wait to visit Taiwan in the future!)
Successful madeleines have that "hump" that's characteristic of them. There're a few techniques to help achieve that "hump":
- Refrigerate to chill madeleine batter at least three hours before baking. I prepared mine the night before and refrigerated it overnight.
- Chill your madeleine molds in the refrigerator and make sure that they're cold by the time of baking
- Fill each madeleine mold with the chilled batter till about 2/3 full as the batter will expand during baking
Madeleines are basically genoise, or sponge (cakes) to the French and Italians. Madeleine purists will insist that madeleines HAVE TO be baked in madeleine molds; otherwise, forget about calling the cakes "madeleines." It's the special scallop shape that makes it madeleine! These lovely French cakes are traditionally flavored with lemon zest. But because my family never runs out of oranges, I decided to flavor mine with orange zest--and beurre noisette, or browned butter. I'm happy to say that they turned out to be a great pair! Both my dad and I loved these cakes.
Don't forget that French specialties, including financiers and madeleines, are often made with beurre noisette, which literally means "hazelnut butter" in French. Browning the butter gives you that hazelnut-like nutty flavor. And when you use it in your baked goods, they're going to be scrumptious! Of course, it's not that hard once you've grasped the concept of browning butter. Just be careful--the butter may get burned in a matter of seconds!
The only complaint was that we think the madeleines were a little too sweet for our palate. I will adjust the quantity of the sugar the next time I make these again ... say, by 15g to 20g. I suspect if the sugar is reduced, will the cake structure be altered and thus, affecting the outcome!!?? O_O ...
Nonetheless, I've fallen in love with the light and soft texture of madeleines. I still find myself reminiscing the mildly sweet and tangy bursts of orange flavor in the midst of the delicate nuttiness of beurre noisette. Ahh ... yummy!!
Madeleines à l'Orange et au Beurre Noisette, or Orange-Browned Butter Madeleines (adapted from Pâtisserie Lerch, in Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets)
Makes 12 large or 36 small madeleines
100g butter, to be turned into 70g beurre noisette--we only need 70g
105g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
100g sugar (I may reduce it to 80-85g in the future)
finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 tsp vanilla
- For the beurre noisette: melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat till it's completely melted, swirl the pan occasionally as you heat it. You'll see that as you keep heating it, the milk solids will be separated from the butterfat and sink to the bottom.
With the continuous heating, the milk solids at the bottom of the saucepan will begin to brown and thus, giving you the unique nutty flavor of beurre noisette.
Towards the later part of the cooking process, allow the melted butter to bubble away till it turns deep brown in color and has a hint of nutty smell.
- Then, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat; pour the beurre noisette over and let it run through a metal strainer to remove the solids--we only want the butterfat. Set it aside in a bowl to let cool completely before using
- Grease and flour your madeleine molds--you can skip this step if you're using silicone ones, then send to chill in the freezer till use later.
- Measure out 70g from the cooled beurre noisette and set aside. On the other hand, combine (A) together and sift once; set aside
- Mix (B) together till thickened and pale in color, followed by folding in (C) till combined
- Sift in the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and fold gently till incorporated. Lastly, fold in the beurre noisette gently till just blended--DON'T overmix by folding the batter too much as you may risk deflating the air!
- Cover the bowl of batter with a sheet of plastic film and chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours, or overnight
- When you're ready to bake, take the prepared molds out the freezer and fill each cavity with the chilled batter till 2/3 full; repeat till the batter is used up
- Bake at 200C for 11-13 minutes if you're making large ones while 8-10 minutes for small ones--OR till they're puffed, golden in color and their surface springs back when gently touched
- Remove madeleines from the oven and unmold to cool them on cooling racks immediately. Serve them either slightly warm or at room temperature--well, both are nice anyway!