Sugar & Spice Madeleines
These little cakes with their ever-so-slightly crunchy tops and tender, spice-scented middles are terribly more-ish and have a beguiling subtlety that creeps up on you. I think the secret is the freshly ground spices which give such a true, clear flavour to the madeleines. They’re terribly easy to make but just be mindful that you will need a special madeleine tin to bake them – mine is a non-stick one which has 12 small shell-like depressions in it. I only have the one tin and as this recipe makes 24 I just rinse it in cool water between batches then re-butter it before using it again.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, for brushing the moulds
- 3/4 cup (110g) plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar
- 2 slightly heaped tablespoons soft brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 90g unsalted butter, melted and cooled a little
- Icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat your oven to 190C. Brush the indents in a 12-shell madeleine tin with some of the melted butter (or do two tins if you have them) then put the tin in the fridge. Once the butter has set, brush them again and return the tin to the fridge. (I’ve tried buttering then flouring the moulds but it a bit messy and I ended up with more flour on the floor than in the moulds!)
Put the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices into a medium-sized bowl then give them a good whisk with a balloon whisk for 1 minute so they’re thoroughly combined.
Put the eggs into a separate bowl and add both sugars and the vanilla. Use the same whisk to mix them together until they’re well blended. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture then mix in the melted butter until it’s just incorporated.
Scoop a spoonful of batter into each mould – it should be nearly full; if you only have one tin reserve the remaining batter for the next batch. Slip the tin into the oven, and bake the madeleines for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170C and bake them for another 3-4 minutes until they’re deliciously plump and springy to touch, and the edges are lightly browned.
Remove them from the oven and tumble them out onto a wire rack. If you’re re-using the tin, rinse it in cold water to cool it down, then re-butter it and repeat the remaining steps with the reserved batter.
Allow the madeleines to cool for 20 minutes then dust the fluted sides with icing sugar and pile them decoratively on a dish. They’re best eaten as soon as possible, but they’re fine made a few hours ahead of time. Although conventional wisdom is that they don’t keep well, I have frozen leftovers and warmed them gently just prior to eating them and,although they lose their crisp exterior, they still taste very good.