There’s just something particularly French about tea and those shell-shaped madeleines.
Made famous by the French (in the Lorraine region) and Marcel Proust’s novel “In search of lost time” where he wrote about the “madeleine episode”, these shell-shaped cakes are loved by many around the world.
While I was in Paris, I splurged on some Mariage Frères tea and I think it is only fitting that such a splendid tea should be enjoyed with some freshly made madeleines.
I find them particularly irresistible when they are still warm, just minutes out of the oven. Its rich, buttery flavours and its moist and tender crumb is what I love about them.
The only thing not French about these madeleines is its matcha (green tea) flavour. I usuallylove a good lemon madeleine but these matcha madeleines win them hands down. I have not made these matcha madeleines in a long while but I was reminded of them when I saw Sadaharu Aoiki’s version and thought that it’s time that I revisit them.
A good madeleine is not technically challenging but it requires quite a bit of care and patience. The batter needs to be rested in the fridge before baking and I usually let it rest overnight – this will give the madeleines their distinct hump.
A traditional madeleine is usually made with the genoise method (which involves beating the eggs and sugar to ribbon-stage before adding the dry ingredients and melted butter) rather than adding baking powder to give it the rise.
You should also butter the madeleine trays generously and place it in the freezer until cold before dusting flour sparingly over the moulds. This helps to release the madeleines easily I like using metal trays, stainless steel better than non-stick. The use of silicon trays give the madeleines a waxy look that I don’t like, they also produce smaller humps though the benefit is that they would not stick at all.
I like piping the batter into the moulds. I find it quicker and cleaner than using a spoon. Give the trays a little tap once you are done piping to knock out any large air bubbles before baking and you will be well on your way to some pretty delicious madeleines.
Another thing about these madeleines is that they are best served fresh (definitely on the same day as it is being made and if possible, immediately). They go a little stale quickly but can be reheated just before eating.
If you are thinking about making these but haven’t quite decided if a madeleine mould is worthy of your investment, you should just get one. I promise that this recipe will give you worthy madeleines that you will be baking over and again.
“And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.”
—Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time
Matcha (Green tea) madeleines
Makes 24 – 28 regular sized madeleines
Adapted from The Ethnic Paris Cookbook by Charlotte Puckette and Olivia Kiang-Snaije
The recipe can be halved but I prefer making more and keeping the leftover batter in the fridge to be baked on a rainy day where warm madeleines would be very welcomed. It is important to have the eggs at room temperature before baking so they can be whisked to their full volume. The melted butter should be added in when it is cooled and not hot (to prevent the batter from deflating too much).
I bake them – one in stainless steel tray and another in a non-stick metal one. The stainless steel tray gives you the best result (a more distinct hump, even colour).
230g unsalted butter
240g eggs (About 4 large eggs), room temperature
160g granulated sugar
2 tbsp honey
230g plain flour
2 tsp green tea powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1. Chop up butter into cubes before melting it over low heat. When the butter is melted, let it cool before using.
2. Sift the flour, baking soda, green tea powder and whisk to mix thoroughly.
3. Place the room temperature eggs in a mixer bowl and whisk at medium speed for about 30 seconds.
4. Add in sugar and honey to the eggs and whisk on medium-high speed for about 5-8 minutes until pale, thick. The batter should be at ribbon stage. It is important not to underbeat at this stage.
5. Add in the sifted ingredients in three additions – using a paddle attachment, beat at low speed until just incorporated.
6. Gradually pour in the melted and cooled butter while the mixer is still running. Do not pour all at once if not it will be difficult to incorporate the large amount of butter into the batter. Mix until well-incorporated.
7. Cling wrap the bowl and refrigerate the batter for at least 3 hours or overnight. The batter could be kept in the fridge for up to a few days.
8. Butter your madeleine trays generously especially around the crevices and place the tray(s) in the freezer.
9. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Take out the madeleine moulds from the freezer and dust flour over the moulds, inverting the trays to tap our any excess flour.
10. Fill a piping bag and pipe each cavity to about 3/4 full. Since the batter is cold (right out from the fridge), these took about 15 minutes to bake. If you are baking them on the same day of making the batter, they may take a shorter time (check at 10 minutes). The madeleines should be well-risen, with its distinctive hump. The edges should be golden brown.
11. Invert the madeleines onto a wire rack. They should come out easily if you have done a good job at buttering the trays. Best served immediately, dusted with icing sugar, while still warm.
*Storage tip: Eat these immediately or store them in an air-tight container and heat up up until warm before eating.
*Serving alternatives: You can dipped the top of the madeleines in green tea ganache before serving for something a little more fancy.
Matcha (green tea) ganache
To coat all 24 madeleines
120g good white chocolate, chopped
1 tsp matcha powder, sifted
1. Heat up cream in a small pot until it begins to boil.
2. Add sifted matcha powder to the chopped white chocolate in a separate bowl.
3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and use a spatula to gently stir until well-incorporated. Allow it to cool (you can cool it in the fridge if needed) until it is thick enough to coat your madeleines so the ganache doesn’t run off.