Baking Madeleines have been on my to do list for ages (I bought a pan about 3 years ago!) and I am happy to finally post a recipe for Olive Oil and Lime Madeleines. Dipped in white chocolate and freeze-dried coconut for that extra bit of indulgence.
For me, there is romanticism and intimidation about French baking but luckily these small sponge cakes are pretty easy and not intimidating at all to make. The catch of course, you need a specific madeleine pan to bake them to achieve the distinctive shell-like shape. Madeleines originate from the Lorraine region in northeastern France.
According to Wikipedia, there are several legends attached to the “invention” of the Madeleines. “They have tended to center on a female character named Madeleine who is said to have been in the service of an important character in the history of Lorraine – although there is no consensus over the last name of the cook nor the identity of the famous character. Some consider that the illustrious patron was 17th-century cardinal and rebel Paul de Gondi, who owned a castle in Commercy. Others consider that the inventor was named Madeleine Paulmier, who is said to have been a cook in the 18th century for Stanislaus I, duke of Lorraine and exiled King of Poland. The story goes that, in 1755, Louis XV, son-in-law of the duke, charmed by the little cakes prepared by Madeleine Paulmier, named them after her, while his wife, Maria Leszczyńska, introduced them soon afterward to the court in Versailles. Much beloved by the royal family, they conquered the rest of France in no time. Yet other stories have linked the cake with the pilgrimage to Compostela, in Spain: a pilgrim named Madeleine is said to have brought back the recipe from her voyage, or a cook named Madeleine is said to have offered little cakes in the shape of a shell to the pilgrims passing through Lorraine. Other stories do not give the cake a Lorraine origin and lay its invention at the feet of pastry chef Jean Avice, who worked in the kitchens of Prince Talleyrand. Avice is said to have invented the Madeleine in the 19th century by baking little cakes in aspic moulds.
The first time I had Madeleines were at La Tête in Cape Town, where there are served as dessert, piping hot out of the oven. There were so good that I bought the pan and the 3 years it took was certainly worth the wait. I used a recipe from my friend The Kate Tin, replacing the butter with olive oil and adding lime zest for flavour. The madeleines were super light and utterly delicious. To take it up a level I dipped them in melted white chocolate and rolled them in freeze-dried coconut. But that is entirely optional.
- 50g salted butter
- 5g honey
- 50g extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 65g caster sugar
- 100g cake flour
- 4g baking powder
- finely grated zest of 2 limes
- melted white chocolate and freeze dried coconut for dipping (if desired)
- Melt the butter and honey, then add the olive oil and set aside
- In a bowl, beat the eggs and caster sugar until very pale and fluffy
- Add the melted butter, honey and olive oil mix and mix in quickly
- Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold gently to form a smooth batter
- Add the zest and fold again until just combined
- Place the madeleine mix in a piping bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours - preferably overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius
- Generously brush the madeleine moulds with melted butter
- Pipe the madeleine mixture into each mould - filling it 3/4 of the way and bake for 6-8 minutes
- Serve warm dipped in white chocolate and freeze dried coconut if preferred
In other news, I am delighted to introduce the Heinstirred Greeting Cards Range. Inspired by fusing food and nature, distinctive images were photographed and set in original heart-shaped designs. Click here for all the details of the range now available.