Madeleines! Whenever I hear them mentioned I automatically think of Proust and his infamous madeleine-memory passage in Swann's Way. Please don't tell me I'm the only literature geek here.
Whenever I return to Hong Kong (or, really, anywhere) I usually come back with some new baking knickknack or the other. This time was no different to the last: I came back with a set of shiny stainless steel measuring cups, and I picked up a madeleine mould on the way.
I rifled through a dozen madeleine recipes on google before settling on one of the simplest ones I could find. I'm sure there are many ways to make them, and the way I chose to probably isn't the traditional method (there were recipes that required whisking the batter over a double boiler, and I just didn't have enough patience for that!), but the one thing all recipes seemed to agree on was to let the batter rest in the fridge for a good while before baking - this helps you achieve the 'humps' that all properly made madeleines have.
I've always wanted to make madeleines. And honestly, part of it might have been due to this little passage by Proust. The way he writes about them makes them seem a little magical, doesn't it? And while I didn't quite get that Proustian flashback, these madeleines are delicious buttery bites of cake that go perfectly with tea. Granted, Proust's version of madeleines didn't have Nutella in them. That's a 21st century influence. Not a bad one, either.
Adapted from eat, little bird
Makes about 15 large madeleines
Note: The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it keeps for a few days in the fridge, so you can make pretty much instant madeleines whenever you like. You can skip the nutella if you want to and try these plain, or try filling/adding different things - a touch of orange zest and a square of dark chocolate would, I imagine, be wonderful. Or maybe you'd fancy some lemon zest and poppy seed madeleines? Or you can go the whole way and brown the butter. It's all up to you.
100g caster sugar
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g unsalted butter
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
About 1 tbsp Nutella (put it in the fridge before using, makes life easier)
Melt the butter over low heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until well combined. Add flour, baking powder, butter and zest, and whisk until the batter is thick and pale. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 270C/518F. If you're using a metal or non-stick tin, grease with butter. (Not necessary with silicon moulds.)
Place about a tablespoon of batter at the bottom of each mould so that it covers the bottom. Add about half a teaspoon of Nutella to the middle of the batter. Fill the rest of the mould with batter, just enough to cover the Nutella - be careful you don't overfill.
Put the tray in the oven and turn the temperature down to 210C/410F. Bake until the madeleines have risen and are golden brown, about 7-9 minutes. Reduce oven time for mini madeleines.