Lemon Madeleines


On Saturday it was my Grandmother’s 100th birthday!

We marked this momentous occasion with an afternoon party at her church in Lynn Valley and invited 90 or so family members and friends. There was lots of food (made by my Mom, sister and me), flowers, balloons and streamers, a massive cake and some heartfelt toasts to the birthday girl.

My Grandma gave a beautiful speech thanking everyone for coming and then she talked about some of the highlights from her one hundred years.  She reminisced about her idyllic childhood growing up as the baby in her tight knit family. She spoke about the values instilled in her by her parents highlighting the importance of kindness, compassion, a sense of community spirit, and the joy that comes from selfless giving.  And she also talked about her life-long love of hockey.

My sister Lisa and Max then led the crowd through a rousing version of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. It was quite something as almost everyone in the room knew the words to the chorus of this song which was written in 1911, the same year that my Grandmother was born. It was a wonderful celebration.

On Sunday, we were back to cleaning up after the cooking explosion that happened in the kitchen the day before. In the late afternoon, once the kitchen was finally back in order, I decided I wanted to bake a little something special for my sister. Not only did she fly up from Los Angeles to be here for Gram’s big day, she also cooked and organized, decorated and then did much of the clean-up after.  My sister is a devout tea drinker and what goes better with a cup of Earl Grey than a cake-like madeleine cookie?

This recipe comes from David Lebovitz from his The Sweet Life in Paris book and is very straightforward. You do need to chill the madeleine batter for an hour before you use it so plan ahead. The other key to success for these cookies is that you need to butter and flour the madeleine molds, even if you are using the non stick type.

The ones I made for Lisa were the one-bite, mini size and were scented with lemon zest but you can also make the more traditional larger size and the sky’s the limit in terms of what complimentary flavours could be added to the batter. Matcha green tea, chocolate chips, orange zest or rose water. I am a bit of a purist myself and so I think I will stick to the lemon zest.

Last night after dinner, as Lisa and I were popping these tender cookie-cakes into our mouths, we decided that the perfect companion for these lemon madeleines would be a big bowl of lavender scented whipped cream. They are, however, pretty close to perfect with just a piping hot mug of tea.

Lemon Madeleines

This recipe is from David Lebovitz who likes to use a lemon glaze on top. I like mine plain and so I have omitted the glaze from this recipe but if you are so inclined it is really just just some icing sugar, lemon juice and water mixed together. Dip the madeleines into the glaze while they are still warm.

For the madeleines:
9 tablespoons butter, melted and then cooled to room temperature plus a bit more melted butter to use for greasing the madeleine molds
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 of a cup of granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 1 medium, unsprayed lemon

Prepare the madeleine molds by brushing the indentations with some melted butter. I found that just dipping my finger in the melted butter and then smearing the indentations was the most effective way and easier than using a pastry brush. Dust with flour and then tap the pan to remove any excess. Place in the freezer until ready to fill with the batter.

Place the eggs and the sugar and the salt in the bowl of a mixer and whip for 5 minutes until well combined and frothy.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg mixture and use a spatula to fold in the flour.

Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter and then drizzle this in a few spoonfuls at a time and fold in simultaneously until all of the butter is incorporated.

Cover and refrigerate the batter for at least an hour and up to 12 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove your madeleine molds from the freezer and plop a small amount of the batter in the centre of each of the indentations. You need to put in just enough so that it will expand and rise to the top of the mold when it bakes. Just leave it as a dollop, don’t spread it out, the heat of the oven will even it out during baking. If you are using the non-stick type pans you should bake them on the upper rack in your oven so that they bake more evenly (as the dark non-stick surface attracts the heat).

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes if you are making the mini size and 8 to 10 minutes if using the slightly larger, traditional size. The cakes will feel springy and just set and will be a lovely golden brown on the side that is touching the molds.

Remove the pan from the oven and tip the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. If you only have one madeleine mold or you are baking multiple batches you will need to re-butter and flour the pan and stick it back in the freezer for 5 minutes and then you can continue to fill the molds with the batter and bake.

Makes 24 regular size madeleines or 60 of the mini size.

Recipe from David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City.

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10 Responses to Lemon Madeleines

  1. Lisa Marr says:

    Madeleines fresh out of the oven, a mug of Mariage Frères Earl Grey French Blue with milk, and conversation with my sis in the kitchen… Hard to top that for a rainy Vancouver Sunday afternoon!

  2. Sheryl says:

    You are so lucky – what do you think your Grandma’s secret is? I bet it is the hockey… hmm, Madelines tea and hockey… tomorrow’s menu done!

  3. Lisa Host says:

    You’re just lovely Julie.. Every time I read I want to make. So inspiring and classic. Thanks again for doing what you do. Now, off to make pancakes and madeleins and sorbets!!!

  4. Lisa: Thanks for making the trek up. Sorry it was such a crazy weekend! I miss you.

    Sheryl: Madeleines, tea and hockey. Breakfast (or dinner) of champions!

    Lisa: Thanks Lisa. You made my day.

  5. cathy says:

    another beautiful food story- i remember seeing your grandmother on the keats dock, she doesnt look a day over 80 !-she is so lucky to have such wonderful granddaughters,
    i will attempt the madeleins and invite my mom for tea– thanks julie

  6. Cathy: So nice to hear from you! Actually, you met my other Grandma (my Baba) on the dock at Keats. She is only 98! I am soooo lucky to still have both my Grandmothers and they are both in amazing shape both physically and mentally. I am hoping some of those genes were passed along to me… Good luck with the madeleines, they really are pretty easy.

  7. LESLIE THOMAS says:

    Wish I had been there! By all reports, it sounds like it was an amazing day for a wonderful woman of 100 years!

  8. tom duffy says:

    this post made me happy– thank you julie!!!!!

  9. style fare says:

    Hi Julie,

    I just discovered your wonderful site and I’m so glad I did! Your recipes are all mouthwatering and beautiful – but your stories are the real draw. Truly heartwarming.

    I’ve been on a real lemon kick lately and I adore madeleines, so thanks for reminding me how how easy and delicious they are! (I love mine with both lemon + orange zest.) Keep up the great work and please swing by my little home sometime. 🙂

    Take care,

  10. Hi Hana. Thanks so much for stopping by and for the sweet words. I checked out your site and was thoroughly charmed. Consider yourself bookmarked!

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