madeleines: my white whale

madeleines are divine little nuggets of joy, especially when served fresh from the oven. when i bite into one, i can see how such a humble pastry set proust off on a search for lost time. likewise, i often recommend Daniel on the UES as one of my favorite nyc restaurants in the hoity toity category, precisely because they always serve a basket of warm, freshly baked madeleines at the end of the meal.

now i’ve tried to re-create madeleines at home plenty of times before.  i’ve used pierre herme’s recipe, dorie greenspan’s version and most recently daniel boulud’s version.  for whatever reason, i’ve never been able to get that hump to develop on the back of my madeleines. you could call it, my pastry white whale.

PH recommends letting the batter sit overnight — it relaxes the dough and helps the hump development.   that trick still hasn’t worked for me.  i’m thinking that problem might have to do with my oven setting.  i typically use the convection setting, but perhaps hump development is sped along without oven air circulation. i’ve also read that dropping the batter into the madeleine pan and then freezing the whole thing helps things as well.  hmmmm . . . perhaps my chemist friend, K, can explain the whole thing to me?

that said, the cookies do taste good hump or no hump. . . and i’ll keep trudging away in the kitchen, until i manage to figure out the secret to proper madeleine hump development.

(adapted from Chef Daniel Boulud: Cooking in New York City; makes 72 small madeleines or 1 dozen large.  The small ones are much cuter)

Flour ¾ cup
Baking powder 1 tsp
Salt A pinch
Sugar ¼ cup + 2 tbsp
Eggs 2 large ones
Honey 1 tbsp
Light brown sugar 1 tbsp, packed
Lemon zest From 1 lemon
Butter 6 tbsp, melted and kept warm
  1.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  2. Whisk together granulated sugar, eggs honey, brown sugar and lemons zest.
  3. Add the flour to the mixture and whisk until just combined.
  4. Add in the butter until incorporated.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip and then let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 400ºF.   Butter a madeleine pan and set aside.
  7. Pipe the batter into the madeleine molds until 2/3 full.
  8. Bake the small madeleines for 4 minutes, rotating halfway thru, and then baking another 4 minutes.  The large ones should bake for 10 minutes with a rotation halfway thru.
  9. Remove from oven and invert the pan.  Serve warm.  Dust with powdered sugar for extra loveliness.

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