French Madeleines

These madeleines, made with flour, butter, sugar, lemon, and vanilla, are classic French butter cakes with a distinctive scallop shape.

A white plate topped with classic madeleines.

These meltingly tender little madeleines are essentially made using a génoise batter, in which melted butter is stirred into a whisked egg, sugar, and flour base. It’s the bosse, or dome, that defines whether a cake is indeed a madeleine or simply a plain old sponge cake. [Editor’s Note: We once read an article about pie whose very existence had prompted the writer to expound, impassioned, upon the topic. The essay ended somewhat eloquently, with the words, “Everyone has their [sic] madeleine.” Or something like that. (Referring, of course to Marcel Proust and his prose. But you knew that.) And yet, for some of us, our madeleine is a madeleine. For those of you whom that applies to, this recipe’s for you.]–Annie Bell

French Madeleines

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 20 M
  • 2 H, 30 M
  • Makes 12 to 24
5/5 - 3 reviews
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Special Equipment: 2 madeleine pans (scallop-shaped is traditional) or 2 nonstick mini-muffin pans

Ingredients


Directions

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk the eggs, sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl until very pale and at least doubled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Fold it into the egg mixture, followed by the melted butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 475°F (246°C). Butter 2 madeleine pans or 2 nonstick mini-muffin pans. Place the pans in the freezer.

Give the refrigerated cake batter a good stir and fill the molds 3/4 full using a teaspoon. Place the trays in the oven, immediately turn the temperature down to 425°F (218°C), and bake for 4 minutes, during which time a dip will form in the center of the cakes. This dip is the beginning of the domed bump.

Now turn the oven down to 375°F (191°C) and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, until you have a beautiful dome in the center of each one, the mixture is set, and the edges of the cakes are golden. Remove from the oven.

As soon as the pans come out of the oven, run a knife around the edge of each cake and let them cool in the pan. Madeleines are at their loveliest eaten slightly warm, but they are also good for dipping into tea, Proustian fashion, for a couple of days thereafter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving, if desired. Store any leftover madeleines in an airtight container. Originally published July 10, 2014.

Print RecipeBuy the Annie Bell’s Baking Bible cookbook

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    *What You Need To Know About Creating Nicely Domed Madeleines

    • The secret to the bosse is partly the temperature differential achieved by placing chilled batter in a very hot oven. I suppose in a way it’s the opposite of baking an ordinary cake, which can unfortunately bolt upward in the center—normally because of the oven being too hot—whereas here that’s part of the plan. The batter needs an hour or so to rest in the fridge. I like to make it the night beforehand.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Warm, buttery, airy, delicate little cakes. Who knew madeleines were so simple to make..and so delicious?

    I specifically bought a pan for this recipe so I could make the authentic madeleine-shaped little cakes. The pan wasn’t nonstick or silicone but steel. The directions were perfect. I gently slid a knife around the edges of the cakes before cooling and once again after they’d cooled, and the madeleines came right out of the pan.

    Use eggs at room temperature, as they whip up easier. If pressed for time, warm whole eggs straight from the fridge in a bowl with warm tap water for 5 minutes to speed up the process.

    I used regular sugar since I didn’t have superfine and the madeleines were still delicious and I couldn’t detect any sugar crystals.

    My batch puffed up beautifully as the batter and pan were both very cold. I refrigerated the batter in a stainless steel mixing bowl and it was ready to used in 2 1/2 hours. Freezing the mold before baking is a great tip to ensure a great rise out of the madeleines.

    I’ve always thought of a génoise cake batter as too complex to make, but in fact it's quite the opposite.

    I would definitely make this recipe again. Let these get to a nice golden brown. I didn’t want to overbake them, so I pulled my first batch when the edges started brown. Next time I'll let them get really golden brown on the edges so the scallop shape comes out browned rather than pale. I think 11 minutes total baking time instead of 9 minutes in my oven would have done the trick.

    This madeleines recipe came together in no time and made wonderful and VERY addictive little cakes with cute bumps. There are no frills here, just basic vanilla-flavored madeleines. They deliver exactly what they promise— sweet but not cloying, redolent with vanilla, tender, and buttery. They are crazy addictive, so watch out, a batch can be gone in no time between two people.

    I used a pan for regular (not mini) madeleines, and the recipe made 12 perfect cakes. I haven’t buttered a pan in years; I always use Pam for Baking spray, and I used that for these as well. They came out of the pan with no effort.

    Our favorite way to enjoy them is to let them cool completely and dunk them in black coffee.

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    Comments

    1. Oh, I have been looking for a new, better madeleine recipe. I’m not one of the romantic types that quotes Proust, I just know that Madeleines are the perfect little tea cake.

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