Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Remembrance of Madeleines Past

Yesterday I wrote about the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene and averted to “Madeleines”, the Marcel’s immortalized morsel. I had made Madeleines last year for the day and determined that I would do the same this year. However, because of the structure of my day, I didn’t get to them until nighttime while taking in a couple episodes of DCI Banks.

Would I be more successful this year than last? Would the advice I garnered last time be of service this time?

I decided to do this in two batches.  I used the same temperature as indicted on the recipe, but I used one pan and made sure the rack was in the middle.  The results.

First batch, much like last year.

Second batch, with just four in the lower rack (yes, close the element).

Second batch.  I lowered the temperature.  I didn’t get quite the “reverse dimple” as the other.

The smaller and darker ones were from that lower pan.

I learned from a comment last year that Madeleines are good dunked in red wine. I happened to have an open bottle of a California Cab.

Yes, I can confirm that Madeleines are good dunked in red wine!

I’m not much of a baker.  Baking mystifies and intimidates me.  But it’s good to push to do new things.

I am left to consider variables, such as the size of the eggs and the amount of lemon juice. “Zest from half a lemon and then the juice of the lemon”.  Not all lemons and eggs are equal.  Whole milk?  Fat reduced?  I suspect some of you will have observations.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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16 Responses to Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Remembrance of Madeleines Past

  1. APX says:

    FYI: the standard sized egg used in recipes is large unless otherwise specified.

  2. teomatteo says:

    You know more than moi but I use Martha’s recipe and my wife is impressed with my results. And to impress my wife is a Good Thing.

  3. Dick Verbo says:

    I always save some for July 25 (Thursday), the Feast of St James.

    [I will not only save some, I think I’ll try making them again, with some of the tips I’ve been getting.]

  4. Stefan says:

    Hi Fr. Z,

    One of my patron saints is St. Mary Magdalene; may she pray for us. I suggest figuring out what your oven is doing by using a high accuracy, digital thermometer for your stove. Thermoworks is a reputable brand.

    After you understand what your oven is really doing, you can set your temperature per the recipe. Then the pan makes a difference too. Dark pans or matte pans will absorb IR better vs a polished metal or uncoated pan. Try putting a sheet of aluminum foil under your pan. You may find the foil attenuates the IR absorption enough to reduce the burning.

    Happy baking!

  5. ChesterFrank says:

    I am no expert, but I suspect the temperature of the milk might influence to results. My guess leans towards room temperature rather than ice cold from the refrigerator. I could interpolate that the same is true for eggs and butter. I cannot imagine the French using low fat or skim milk for anything, nor can I picture them substituting margarine for butter.

  6. Michael Haz says:

    Cooking versus baking: cooking is art, baking is science.

  7. APX says:

    Chesterfrank is correct about using room temperature milk. Ingredients (unless otherwise specified) are supposed to be used at room temperature.

    You may also want to try placing them on an insulated cookie sheet. It helps prevent burning and keeps an even baking temperature. You might also want to try using less baking powder. Your altitude can affect things rising and so adjustments have to be made. I only know this from living with a roommate who moved from one end of Canada to the other end and had to completely change her baking recipes to make up for the altitude difference.

  8. Diane says:

    They look delish, Father!

  9. Fallibilissimo says:

    Oh for crying out loud…I could so use one of those right now. Actually, make that 2 dozen of those.

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Madeleines seem to be creeping into the US. You sometimes see them in small packs at drugstores, and this year they were selling big packs of two dozen or so at Sam’s Club.

    But I’m sure it’s better to bake them oneself.

  11. JMody says:

    Are you not falling on your knees in tears of gratitude to Our Merciful Father that these are the extent of worry today?

    Room temp, more butter in the pan, and 10-20 degrees on the temp, mine come out great at 375 (2200 ft altitude)

  12. KateriK says:

    Pater! Pater!
    It is so simple, yet so sublime. Study the recipes of the master, Julia Child. She tells us over and over in her books, do not DEFLATE the eggs.
    The first time I baked Madeleines, the recipe said to beat the eggs for 5-10 minutes, meaning at least six, upwards of eight minutes….
    When told, add the butter, then the flour, a bit at a time, baking powder, salt, etc.
    Then it all has an opportunity to incorporate and blend together. Then this is a mixture that will bake well and turn into a marvelous little bite of yumminess. As they say, Patienza! Patienza!
    I live at an altitude of 8900 ft above sea level. I need very little adjustment.

    [Thanks for that. That’s exactly the opposite advice about the eggs as in the recipe I used.]

  13. Discipula says:

    High humidity can also play merry havoc with recipes. There is some excellent advice above. How things are mixed and their temperatures do play a significant role in how well something turns out. Your Madeleines look delicious all the same. Bon appetit!

  14. monstrance says:

    In Alexandria VA there exists a French themed eatery on the corner of Pitt and King.
    Named, of course, “Madeleines”.
    Their bakers produce a delicious madeleine with a light frosting glaze on top.
    For a bonus – it is just a few minutes walk from the Minor Basilica St. Mary’s.

  15. Mariana2 says:

    Whole milk, of course.

    [There were some spam attempts that I had to delete, but you had the closest to the 600000th comment.]

  16. PostCatholic says:

    I think you have an excellent recipe. The results speak got themselves. About the only advice I have left to offer is to buy yourself a nice malmsey or rainwater Madeira to enjoy with the madeleines.

    Congrats on your new mobile layout, it’s an excellent improvement.

    [First. Thanks for the notes, present and past, on making these. You made good comments last year, too. I will try again for the Feast of St. James. And thanks for the notes about the mobile view. I’ve been a paid mobile view but they want more money. This one, however, has not been supported for a while. I hope it lasts. Of course the boo-birds haven’t yet started to croak. They will.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award