It is not the first time I do madeleines and each time I did them before they were turning differently. I started then a kind of a serious research for the secrets of perfect madeleines.
The perfect madeleine has 2 important sides: on side is the bottom that is usually baked in a shell looking cavity. The important thing for this side is to not be too burnt and also not to under cooked. It should be just a light brown as color and the beautiful shapes of the shell should be revealed.
The other side of the shell should be bumpy. That bump is a specific for madeleines. For normal cakes you would like a nicely leveled top, but for madeleines, on the contrary, you look for an extreme bump.

First secret to obtain that bump is to place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Don't be surprised that you can even keep it in the fridge up to 3 days. What you need in fact is an aged cold dough. The trick is the following: when put in the oven, the little cake will start to cook from the exterior. It will get cooked slowly from outside to the core. But when the core starts to cook, the outside part is almost ready. The core however needs space to expand and will find a weak link in the already formed structure to get out. That weak link can be only on top and that's why is forming the special madeleine bump.
In fact, finding these secrets for cooking madeleines helped me to explain myself a bread issue I experienced.
With some breads that I cooked in the wood fired oven I've noticed sometimes a very weird shape, a kind of tail. This tail was getting out of the bread in an unpredictable position destroying my expected bread shape. The explanation is exactly the same. When the oven is too hot, the bread cooks faster outside, while the core gets baked slowly. When the core reaches the baking temperature, it wants to expand and it will find a place where the outside structure is weak, so there it will just push the uncooked dough outside that creates a look of a tail or a big worm getting out of the bread. It is the same principle. This issue never happened to me when cooking in a conventional oven as they are all limited to a high temperature. But the wood fired oven doesn't have this limitation and unless you properly measure the temperature  (like me when I am lazy) you can be easily fooled.

Second secret of madeleine is to use proper quantities. Have in mind another trick, that is related with proportions: Egg: Sugar:Flour:Butter needs to have a 1:1:1:1 ratio.
This is a good rule to have in mind and you can break it just in small changes. In my case, I didn't use 3 entire eggs as I had 4 yolks left from a meringue recipe to each I added only 1 whole egg to reach the 180g egg quantity. Second rule that I broke was sugar. For this cake the sugar is not there mainly for the structure, it is there to give a sweet taste. That allowed me to lower the quantity so I can follow my own rule of preference "no more than 100g of sugar in my cakes". However, keep in mind that this principle cannot be applied for sweets like meringue, macaroons etc. where the sugar is actually providing the structure and you need to respect the quantities by the book. Sugar also helps in browning the cakes much faster in the oven and this can be sometimes an advantage and sometimes not. For this particular recipe, halving the sugar won't make too much difference.

Cooking science is interesting for the baker, but for the eater, the most important is the taste and the good looking. These madeleines are soft and moist, they almost melt into you mouth.
Now, let's enjoy them...

Ingredients (for 17 madeleines):
  • 180g eggs (4 yolks and 1 entire egg)
  • 180g butter (melted)
  • 100g sugar
  • 180g all purpose flour
  • 8g baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 10g butter and a tablespoon of flour for the madeleine tray

  1. In a bowl, mix lightly the eggs with sugar.
  2. Add alternatively the melted butter and flour while continuing to mix.
  3. Add the lemon zest and mix to incorporate it well.
  4. Cover the bowl with a lid or a film and put it in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
  5. 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven at 180ºC.
  6. Prepare the madeleine tray(s) by buttering it well and then sprinkle the flour to avoid sticking to the pan. Remove the excess of the flour by returning the tray and shaking it a bit. Optionally you can even put the trays in the fridge to ensure a perfect shape. This time I didn't place my trays in the fridge, I used them as they were, at room temperature.
  7. Remove the batter from the fridge and use a small ice-cream scoop to fill in each tray.
  8. Pour a scoop of batter in each shell covering only 75% of its capacity. They will raise in the oven and you don't want very high madeleines.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven at 180ºC for  10-12 minutes. I suggest placing the trays on the lower side of the oven to insure the cooking of the bottom first (shell side)

Recipe inspired from here


Katerina | Once a Foodie said...

Such a fabulous shot! I imagine these taste absolutely delightful.

HungryShots said...

Thank you very much Katerina! They taste great... give them a try and you will se.!

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