*Updated post at the bottom – scroll down after the recipe 16/11)
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France’s famous tea cake has made its way here. To be honest, I don’t know what Madeleine was if you asked me before I was interested in pastry or any sorts of cake at all. It was when I went to LCB many years ago that I discovered it. First, it wasn’t sold much here and second, we had this similar type of cake to a Madeleine, somewhat small and spongy, it’s the “Gai Dan Gou” (???)- literal translation would be, Egg Cake. Sorta like the Asian version of Madeleine, or so I think.
So what Madeleine really is, is a small, moist cake with a distinctive shell-shaped acquired from being baked in pans with shell-shaped depressions. Of course there may be some whose shells are a little different in shapes, but still.. shells. They’re best eaten when dipped in tea, during… ingeniously, (haha) during afternoon tea!
And because it’s all dainty, and petite, I decided to make a rose Madeleine. The cake takes on many flavours well because it’s somewhat like a genoise sponge type of thing. So the sky’s the limit for creativity! Plus, it’d be nice to get a rose scented tea after dipping them in!
She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called petites madeleines, which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place…at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory…
- — Remembrance of Things Past, Volume 1: Swann’s Way.
(makes 12) (it really depends on the mould size)
40g caster sugar
pinch of salt
1/3 tsp baking powder
zest of 1/2 orange
40g melted butter
8g dried rosebuds
1. Brush the mould with melted butter and flour the madeleine pan, let it rest in the refrigerator till you’re ready to fill in the batter. Remember to brush all the ridges.
2. For the dried roses, you can remove the stems and calyxes. I didn’t at that time, hence mine were a bit greyish. (The 2nd time I use dried roses in baking, I removed the calyxes, then it was not so grey.) So it’s totally up to u. Blend it a couple of times till it’s sorta grounded but not too fine. During the last pulse, add in some caster sugar and blend so it mixes well with the roses.
3. Zest half an orange and add to it. Microplane graters ftw!Once you use them to grate citrus peels, you’d never ever use anything else. It’s pricey but a good investment (and time saver too!)
4. Whisk eggs, sugar, roses and salt for 3-4 minutes until frothy. Sift flour and baking powder into the eggs.
5. Add orange zest into melted butter. Drizzle in egg batter. Fold till batter is well incorporated. Cover the bowl and keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours. Usually overnight is good.
6. To bake, preheat oven to 220 C.Fill batter in a piping bag.
7. Pipe enough batter in the center of each indentation with enough batter which you think will fill it by 3/4 full. Do not spread it.
10. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until the cakes just feel set. Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack.
—– Update on 16/11 —-
Ok so there may be some questions about the bump / hump at the other side of this small cake. From my own understanding, if you bake it fresh (without refrigerating the batter) it doesn’t have any of the “volcano crack” at the top of the bump, unless too much leavening agent is used.
So, how does the ‘volcano crack’ come about. With any batter, when it’s put in the oven, it’s usually the top that heats up first cause it comes more in contact with the heating element. Plus, there usually is another pan at the bottom to prevent the heat from penetrating through. In this Madeleine situation, the shell ridges are at the bottom, and the exposed part (soon to be bump) is the top. So if you realize, Madeleines are baked at a high temperature. When this happens, the top skin of the batter usually cooks much faster than the bottom and there and then, a layer of crust is formed. And while the bottom heats through, the air bubbles heat up and expands in the batter. The bubbles would need a place to go to prevent having too much big air pockets in the cake itself. So hot air = rises to top. Since there’s a layer of crust form on top, it has to burst through like a volcano erupting, hence there’s an obvious opened crack.
I wouldn’t say it’s a rule or an identification of whether it is a good madeleine or not. It could be an accident when this happened, and that people kept on with the culture of the crack. But then again, I’m not sure too. After all, the cake is baked at a high temperature in a short period of time, this makes sure that the moisture doesn’t dry out. Small cake = longer time in oven = dry. So to reverse it, small cake = high temperature = short time = x dry. And chilled cake + high temperature = crack at the tip of the bump.
Haha Did anyone actually understood what I said? OR even bothered with it.
It’s just basic, if you’re facing very badly cracked cakes it could be (actually sometimes when a cake cracks a little, it means that the hot air is trying to escape, you don’t have to die because of it)
a) the ratio of leavening agents
b) the temperature (precisely the top) is too high.
c) you’re putting the cake too near the top heating element.
d) it’s just bad luck HAHAHA
I’ll do a mini experiment and take some photos and show u the results. Visual tends to register faster.