Madeleines Recipe

Madeleines have a reputation for being rather fussy things, and I suppose that reputation is deserved to some extent. However where small cakes are concerned, you’re always in good hands with Maida Heatter. Here’s her recipe slightly altered to reflect some of my ingrained habits.

about 1 cup bread crumbs, ground finely in a food processor
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 egg pus two egg yolks, room temperature
1.75 ounces (1/4 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2.5 ounces (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
zest of one lemon

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, having set a rack on a middle shelf, in the bottom third of the oven. Brush the Madeleine forms lightly but evenly with very soft (not melted) butter. Sprinkle on the crumbs, tilting the pan this way and that to coat the forms, then turn the pan over and tap it gently to shake of any excess.

Melt the butter in the microwave using several 10-second bursts, then leave it to cool, but not to the point that it’s firm.

Combine the egg, yolks, vanilla and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle and beat on high speed for about 15 minutes until the mixture barely flows. Turn the mixture down to low, then steadily add the flour. Scrape the bowl when needed. You only want to stir until the flour is barely incorporated. Fold in the lemon zest by hand, followed by the melted butter, about a tablespoon at a time.

Immediately spoon the batter into the forms and bake the Madeleines right away (this batter shouldn’t stand for long). Bake them for 12 minutes, until the tops are browned and the cakes spring back when tapped. Cover the pan with a sheet pan or cookie sheet and invert it. Cool the Madeleines on a rack.

34 thoughts on “Madeleines Recipe”

  1. Hi Joe,
    Thanks for sharing your recipe. if I may, I note a couple of points in which it differs from a traditional French recipe:
    I use cooled brown butter and I rest the batter for 3-4 hours before spooning it into the moulds.
    I would be interested in knowing if you think either make any difference to the finished article…

    1. Browned butter will add more flavor, which is probably a good idea. I may make the change. As for the resting…I can’t say offhand what the advantage would be with that. Frequently a resting period is employed to help air bubbles rise out. Hmm…

      Thanks for weighing in, Claudine!

      – Joe

      1. I forgot to say the batter is rested in the fridge. Does a cold batter rise better?

        1. In the fridge, eh? That’s interesting. My guess is it’s rested in the fridge so the butter won’t pool and separate out. However since the batter will then thick, any air bubbles will have a hard time rising out. Perhaps my theory is a bust. The other reason to refrigerate doughs and batter in a refrigerator is to allow the flour to fully hydrate. But I can’t see much advantage there for a madeleine. Hmm…

  2. I’ve always wondered how madeleines taste… I guess I’ll find out sometime after I make that apple strudel.

    I have one question about the recipe. Can I use Matzo meal instead of ground up bread crumbs?

  3. Madeleines are one of my very favorite cookies. And I have to agree with you about Proust. (Anyone who takes 17 pages to write about falling asleep …!) I follow Julia Child’s recipe. Julia said that you have to let the batter rest before putting in the molds because that is what makes the distinctive hump. I like them with and without the hump, but when I make them, I honor Julia. At Christmas, I also add about 3-4T of finely chopped candied ginger. It goes nicely with the lemon and I think it makes the Madeleines a bit more festive for that time of year.

    1. Hey Melinda! Thanks for that. I see the reason for the rest now…gluten development. That’s what will give you the hump. Hmm…now I’m sort of wishing I’d gone to the master first! 😉

      – Joe

  4. Hey Joe, the Madeleine forms usually come with a dozen little shell indentations per form. How many forms does your recipe fill? It looks like it would make 12 Madeleines, 1 form.

  5. I have made madeleines with moderate success. I will have to try this recipe and see if my success improves. Not really related to the madeleines but I have to say as an iPad user that I am happy that the odd banner at the bottom of your site has vanished. It was very annoying and disruptive when I was enjoying the reading and sharing here. If you are responsible for that, I’m very grateful. Almost as grateful as I am for the recipe!

    1. Hey Linda!

      You know I had a very hard time getting rid of that. My ad network “opts” me in to all sorts of things, then I have to figure my own way out. But that really was annoying, you’re darn right. I do a fair amount of post editing on my iPad and that was a serious pain. Sorry!

      – Joe

  6. I’ve used the Joy of Baking recipe, which says to leave the batter to rest in the refridgerator for 30 minutes. The batter becomes very thick and almost “yeasty” looking. They turn out great every time – with the signature “bump”.

  7. Hi Joe

    I don’t have a madeleine form but I do have a langues de chat form. Would it be possible to use this instead or is it too shallow? I am hesitant to buy another single use item and I rarely use the langues de chat form anyhow.


    1. It’s probably worth a try, Linda. Why not? You’ll need to be extra aware of the heat and baking time so they don’t come out too crispy. Otherwise let me know how they go!

      – Joe

  8. When I get too lazy to properly butter my madeleine molds, I just spray a mini muffin pan, fill with the madeleine batter and bake. The baking sprays just don’t seem to work well on any of my madeleine molds. Not the classic shape, no hump, no flutes. But delicious nonetheless.

    I use one of the recipes from Epicurious. Although that recipe also doesn’t call for it, I find that resting the batter, even just a few minutes, makes for a better madeleine.

  9. Intresting!
    As others mentioned, I saw many Madeleines recipes that call for resting the batter in the fridge for at least an hour.
    From my own experience, I once tried this recipe:
    with and without chilling the batter, and the cool batter produced higher Madeleines, actully they even had that hump I never got from that recipe, although there might be another reason that I’m not aware of. (however, I tried chilling and not chilling on the same batch)
    This post has some intresting points about the topic:

    Thanks for the recipe. Wish it will turn great!

  10. I have made madeleines only a couple of times and am no expert, but I wanted to share what I learned about their keeping qualities. Perhaps appropriately for their Proustian role, madeleines are delicate and ephemeral, their charms fugitive. What I mean is: they’re best right after baking and not much good the next day. Don’t plan to ship them to your friends in Fiji by sea.

    1. Oh yes the start to stale immediately, and are very stale the next day. Probably why Marcel had to dip his in tea.

      Thanks, NBM!

    1. Hi Henry!

      That’s probably good advice. Egg foams do tend to dry things out, even though they add volume. I think I’ve got experimenting to do here…though ot be honest I won’t be shooting for bumps as big as the ones in those photos. That’s taking things too far in my world. But I don’t begrudge the technique! 😉

      – Joe

  11. Hi Joe,

    As a professional baker I love reading your posts. I too refrigerate my Madeleines for 24-48 hours before baking them. I have tested many many recipes and finally created one that works perfect for me. I have found, that refrigeration not only gives the cookie a bit of a lift and gives it a bit more structure, but it makes the crumb a bit softer. I also do underbake my cookies just a bit because of carry over cooking. I do this with all my cookies. I worked on this for about 4 months testing times, measurements, temperature as I just love these cookies, especially with a chocolate ganache for dipping.

    Thank you again, for these posts. I spend most of my life in front of the oven and love to see what others create!

    1. Thank you very much Sarah! I have fun with this (at least most of the time). 😉

      Those are great tips. I’m going to try the extended refrigeration and see how that works for me. Do you cover the batter with anything while they chill?

      – Joe

  12. Definitely rest the batter. Every french recipe I’ve read/french chef I’ve talked to told me to rest the batter. I have a recipe from the school which requires you to put the eggs and sugar in a bain marie until it is heated and all the sugar is melted before adding the flower, bp, and butter. Then you chill for at least 12 hours. Recently he told me to let the batter come to room temperature before baking .. he claims it gives it a better hump. I have not tried that as of yet, but baking straight from the fridge, I’ve always had those humps you see in Paris.

    1. Interesting. I wonder why that might be. It was always my impression that the lower temperature inhibited rise in the narrower parts of the cake and made the unbaked batter burst out the top. Now I’ll have to test that theory!

      Thanks, Judy!

      – Joe

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