How to make the best French madeleines


How to make madeleines, those delicate moist french cakes that set Proust on the road to writing À La Recherche du Temps Perdu.

Madeleines are bite-sized oval cakes with a shell-like pattern on one side (all the better to soak up a glaze) and when they bake, they form a small mound or bump on the other side, the one that is exposed to the heat.

Where can you buy a madeleine mould? In France of course, preferably at Dehillerin, our favourite Parisian kitchen shop – you’ll find them at 18-20 Rue Coquillière, 75001 Paris – though they also have an online shop. If you can’t make it there (and it’s a costly trip to take purely for the romance of owning a french-purchased mould) you will easily find one in any good kitchen shop or on Amazon. They are not especially expensive and for the joy they bring, it’s well worth owning one (or two). Buy the metal or non-stick tin – silicone is not authentic. You can buy individual moulds but they are hard to clean and the metal ones become rusty easily (especially if you put them in the dishwasher which is one thing you should never do).

How do you bake the best madeleines?

We think that the madeleines from the Blé Sucré bakery in the 12th arrondissement in Paris are fantastic. Their advice, featured in a recent Bon Apétit magazine, is to leave the batter overnight in the fridge before baking. This offers two clear advantages: when the batter rests, it gives you a soft fluffy madeleine and it also ensures a good rise and each cake has that pronounced distinctive mound in the centre. It also means you can make the batter, leave it overnight in a jug in the fridge, pour it into the moulds the next morning, bake the madeleines and serve them warm with coffee. What could be better for a Sunday morning brunch? It’s like having your very own french pâtisserie in your kitchen.

Wendy Lyn from The Paris Kitchen has kindly recreated the Blé Sucré madeleine recipe here along with a handy slideshow.

Dorie Greenspan is faultless when it comes to any recipe – if you follow her instructions you will always be successful: read her recipe for Earl Grey Tea Madeleines with Honey here on the Bon Appétit website.

Here’s a recipe from the Bon Apétit test kitchen for Orange Blossom Honey Madeleines which just shows the versatility of a madeleine recipe.

According to an article in the Guardian, Proust’s first draft of À La Recherche du Temps Perdu had him reminiscing about toasted bread mixed with honey, not madeleines.


Photography copyright

Related Recipes and Features

Proscuitto di San Danielle with Mozzarella and Tomatoes Proscuitto di San Danielle is a Protected Designation of Origin (POD) Italian cured ham from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region around San Daniele in th...
What is an egg wash? An egg wash is used to give pastry a rich golden colour and also to seal pastry when baking it blind so that the filling doesn't seep into the pastry ...
How to prepare Filo or Phyllo Pastry Filo pastry (also spelt phyllo) is a delicate pastry which needs to be covered while you use it so it doesn't dry out. In other ways it is a forgiving...
Video: How to peel an orange with a spoon A great trick if you are on the run and need to peel an orange without a knife. + Recipes using orange segments and how to make candied orange peel. ...
The best way to cook an Irish sausage There's not much point in buying a fine sausage and burning the hell out of it. It takes such a lot of work and thought to make an excellent one that ...
Video: No Knead Crusty Rolls Jenny Jones shows how to make easy crusty rolls with no kneading and almost no work. If you want no-knead bread but don't have a Dutch oven? Make t...

Follow this blog

Get a weekly email of all new posts.

Email address