Sometimes nothing will do but the perfect treat – a hybrid of cake and cookie that is also a French institution and the most literary of the cake/cookies (thanks to Marcel Proust).
Madeleines are perfect as a last-minute treats – you’re likely to have all of these ingredients in your pantry and, if not, you could probably grab the ingredients from the shop even during a catastrophic nuclear winter. They’re buttery, French, and well-worth the literature they inspire.
Best of all? Everyone will think you’ve been in the kitchen for hours.
(The only hitch is that you need a special madeline pan.)
Go buy one. You won’t regret it. You will kiss it each time it’s dragged out of the cupboard, because you will be transformed into a domestic goddess in one fell swoop when you dig the madeleines out of their cases.
Madeleine (from BBC food)
You will need a 12-cup madeline tray.
2 free-range eggs
100g/3 1/2 oz caster sugar (about 1/2 cup)
100g/3 1/2 oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting (about 3/4 cup)
1 lemon, juice and zest
3/4 tsp baking powder
100g/3 1/2 oz butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing.
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Brush the madeline tray with melted butter then shake in a little flour to coat, tapping out the excess.
2. Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a bowl until frothy. Lightly whisk in the remaining ingredients. Leave to stand for 20 minutes before carefully pouring into the prepared madeline tray. (Your batter should be a gorgeous, pale yellow and fragrant from the lemon.)
3. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture has risen a little in the middle and is fully cooked through. Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack and leave for a few minutes to cool slightly. These are best eaten within an hour of cooking.
With a crunchy exterior and spongy interior, these scalloped cakes are delicious and unique, and the only hit to your wallet will be the one-off cost of buying the pan. As the recipe suggests, they are best warm and scoffed quickly; you and a trusty partner won’t have any problem devouring the lot in a single sitting.
Bake a batch and serve with a cup of tea or coffee. Add a bouquet of spring flowers and you’re as good as Nigella (and without all the scandal).
Amanda Gallant is a twenty-something Yank, part-time desk worker, part-time creative living in the UK. Every two weeks, Amanda will cook and write about fresh, simple and inexpensive recipes (which is good, as Jess and Rachel barely know enough about food to keep themselves alive).