Bergamot Madeleines

Bergamotjuiceetmadeleines

Let me start this post by saying I’m a madeleine snob.  A bona fide, unrepentant madeleine snob.  Don’t talk to me about those nasty little packets of “madeleine” by the cash register at your Starbucks.  They’re awful, with texture seemingly composed, somehow, of paraffin.  Those buckets of shell-shaped stuff masquerading as madeleines at Costco are not much better.  They taste as though they’re made of Twinkies – oddly spongy, overtly sweet and redolent of fake vanilla.  I don’t know what those pretenders are exactly, but I assure you they are *not* madeleines.

The perfect madeleine is elusive.  It’s hard to find even in Paris.  The problem is not that it’s hard to make.  As you will see after this post (and a little time in your own kitchen playing with the recipe) it is not the case.  Madeleines, even the perfect ones, are really quite simple to do.  The problem, rather, is that its perfection is fleeting.  It’s one of those things that are perfect minutes out of the oven, and then the quality erodes as the minutes tick by.  The nearest specimen to a perfect madeleine I’ve had was a plain madeleine, the classic, baked to order and served warm and crisp at the edges with coffee to finish a hearty meal at Alain Ducasse’s Aux Lyonais in Paris.  It’s been years, but it could’ve easily been yesterday.

Madeleinesplated

The perfect madeleine, the Platonic Ideal of the form, is somewhere between a tender, moist cake, and a crisp, sweet cookie.  The crumb should be tender, but not so it disintegrates when dunk into a cup of perfectly innocent tea.  We all (claim to) read Proust – some of us even know it’s proost like boost and not proust like sprout – so we all know he dunk his. The dunkable structure is hence important, even at the expense of it being ever-so-slightly dry.  The perfect madeleines also must have the signature bump, I prefer just a gentle, small bump, not an excessive hump that looks more like a malignant growth than anything else.  My objection to the malignant hump is not for aesthetic but flavor.  In order to get that kind of hump you’ll need to use a *lot* of baking powder, which means you’re going to taste it in your madeleines too.

Also important in a perfect madeleine is the scalloped edges and evenly brown color of the crust.  This is why I don’t like using silicone molds to make them.  No matter how easy they claim to be, they bake up madeleines that are not evenly brown on the bottom, but more in ugly patches or streaks unbefitting a perfect madeleine.  I use an old tin
madeleine mold, the regular shiny sort, not a dark non-stick kind (which  turns the madeleines too dark.)  When it is buttered and floured properly, my tin bakes up madeleines with gorgeously, evenly brown crust that pop out of the molds easily with a gentle tap on the counter. (The tin mold I use is from Dehillerin in Paris, but Amazon has this one which is also good.)

This particular recipe is the one I developed for my friend Daniel Patterson’s article on the fragrant bergamot citrus for San Francisco magazine.   Even if you don’t know what a bergamot is, you know of it.  It’s what gives Earl Grey tea its ambrosia.  In this recipe, I don’t just use the zest, but also the juice to add even more depth to the madeleine’s perfume.  If you don’t have bergamot, you can use just about any fragrant citrus you can find – seville, meyer, even lime might be fun (though I’ve never tried it.)

Bergamot Madaleines
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup bergamot syrup* (make this first)
  • zest from 1 bergamot
  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1.5 stick(12 tablespoons or 180g) melted butter, cooled to room temperature (I use salted butter, or you can add a generous pinch of salt if all you have is unsalted.)
  • You’ll also need about 2 Tabelspoons of soften butter and a little flour for the tin.
*For bergamot syrup
  • 1/2 cup or 100ml of bergamot juice (from 1 or 2 bergamots)
  • 1 cup sugar

Bergamotsyrup

In a small pan, cook bergamot juice and sugar over very low heat until syrupy and reduced by about 1/3, but don’t allow it to caramelize too much.   Allow to cool completely before use.  (Zest the bergamot before juicing and set aside for use in the recipe.)

Beateggssugar

In a stand mixer, beat egg and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the bergamot syrup and the zest and beat well to combine.

Flourbutter

Sift the flour and baking powder together.  With the mixer speed on the lowest setting, fold in the dry ingredient gently.  Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer and finish folding the rest of the flour into the batter by hand (with a rubber spatula).

Pour the butter into the batter.  With the spatula, fold it in into the batter gently.  Cut a piece of plastic wrap and press it directly on top of the batter to cover it completely to prevent a skin from forming.  Cover the entire batter bowl and refrigerate for a few hours (or overnight) before use.  Or instead of wraping the bowl, you can transfer the batter into a pastry bag and refrigerate the whole bag.  This is what I do, and then you can pipe the batter right into the mold directly from the bag.  Quite handy, really.

The rest period is important to ensure the classic madeleine bump – the batter must rest at least a couple of hours until it is cold, cold before use, the longer the better, up to a day ahead of baking.

Pipingbagmolds

If you’re making this for a party, you can make the batter up to a day ahead of time and let it rest in the fridge.  Butter and flour the madeleine tin beforehand and keep it somewhere cold – the fridge is good if you have room.  Make sure your oven is heated up to the right temperature, and just before it’s time for dessert, pipe the madeleine batter into the mold and bake them to order – it only takes 10 minutes. You’ll have crisp, fragrant madeleines that will both surprise and delight your guests.

InmoldsPreheat the oven to 450F.  Butter and flour tin madeleine mold.  Use soften butter and not melted butter for this.  Use a pastry brush (or crumple up a slightly damp towel) to brush the butter in each cavity, make sure you get into all the nooks and edges.  Sift the flour over the buttered tin, shake it to distribute evenly, then flip the tin over and tap out the excess flour.

Pipe
or spoon the batter into the pan (about 1.5″ round).  Don’t over fill the molds as your madeleines won’t bump up nicely – so err on the side of underfill.  This amount of
batter is easily enough for 36 madeleines.  Bake for 6 minutes, then lower the heat to 400, crack open the oven door – stick a wooden spoon
in it if it doesn’t stay open on its own, and continue to bake for 2-4
minutes.  Keep your eye on this, some ovens don’t lower the heat that
quickly, and your madeleines may be done in just two minutes.  Remove
them from the oven as soon as the edges are brown and the top springs
back slightly when touched.

Bergamotmadeleines

Let the tin rest on the countertop for a minute, then give a gentle tap on the counter, your madeleines should pop right out of the mold.  They are at their best right then and there, so serve (or eat) them immediately if you can.  Otherwise, let the madeleines cool down completely on a rack before transfering into an airtight container.

Wipe the tin clean with a damp towel, cool it for a couple minutes
in the freezer, then butter and flour the tin again to bake another batch.
Repeat until you finish all the batter.  Or you can just wrap up the batter and keep it in the fridge to bake later.  The batter, properly wrapped, will keep for a couple days in the fridge.

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  • http://www.hungrydesi.com nithya at hungrydesi

    these look perfect! though i’m guilty of buying those little packets at starbucks during moments of weakness.

  • http://www.purplefoodie.com The Purple Foodie

    Lovely! I’m so with you about the silicione moulds. I hate them! they ake madeleines look soooo ugly. I just got my boyfriend to get me a mould from Paris. So excited to use it!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    And now you won’t have to! These are so easy to do you’ll never buy those again. Promise.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    I know! I love my silicone molds but only for certain things that don’t depend on a good crust.

  • http://ecopatterns.com malathip

    I’ll try your recipe today because I’ve been waiting for teh recipe since you mentioned that you ate 12 of them :)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    And you and I both will be thanking our shared Thai genes for allowing us to eat twelve madeleines at a time with impunity!

  • http://www.TheLetMeEatCake.blogspot.com Nastassia

    I want one of these madeleines right now, it would be so perfect for this rainy LA day! I can’t wait to try this recipe, but first to buy and madeleine mold and then i’m on my way to delicious delight!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    If you’re near a Sur La Table, I’ve actually seen one just like the one I bought in Paris, though that was quite long ago. In any case, Sur La Table or Williams Sonoma, or probably just about any cookware store near you, should carry non non-stick madeleine tins.

  • http://www.caseyellis.com/blog casey

    I agree with every word you’ve written about mads–my recipe is similar to yours although I put a small portion of the pre-butter batter into a separate bowl, fold the butter into that and then recombine with the rest. Probably not necessary, but it makes me feel more in control of the butter distribution.
    I love the plain, classic version so much that I’ve never tried a flavored variation–but will use my meyer lemons next time.
    Oh, and every time I’ve cheated on the butter/flour pan prep, I’ve regretted it. No surprise to you, I’m sure.

  • Hsin

    Those look delicious, and the “crust” looks perfectly even. Beautiful. I’ve never come across bergamot, even in New York City or Paris, so I’ll have to try Meyer lemon or somesuch. I also like madeleines made with brown butter and finely ground almonds or hazelnuts.
    I too am a madeleine snob. I always bake my own (so easy too), although I use the nonstick moulds from France and never have a problem with browning too much or too little.
    When I found out my sister-in-law likes the ones at Starbucks, I actually sighed impatiently at her and told her not to buy them until I made her a batch.
    But somehow I ate more than a dozen in less than half an hour after they came out of the oven and I had only 6 left to give her.
    By the way, is that baking powder measurement correct? That seems a lot more than I’m used to using. (I never tried baking soda.) Sometimes I use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon. Sometimes I don’t even bother with baking powder and still manage to get a hump.

  • http://www.sygyzy.com sygyzy

    If we don’t want to use or make the syrup, what can we substitute in for the 1/3C? Granulated sugar? Maple syrup? Simple syrup?

  • http://www.moveablefeastscookbook.blogspot.com Barbara

    I make my own too. I have been experimenting with them…made some with a pine nut flour and also with a pistachio flour. I still like the plain ones better, but it’s nice to try something unusual once in a while. When they’re stale, they make super coffee dipping.
    Will definitely try your recipe now!

  • http://familycrockpotrecipes.com Sheryl

    OOOHhhhh…thank you for this recipe….I am so excited to try it.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/shannonpyates Shannon

    Pim,
    Thanks for this write up. We lived in Paris for 3 months last year and my kids became Madeleine experts. The Starbucks/Costco remarks are so true! My kids eat them but every time they look at me and say “mom, they’re good but they’re not like Paris.” I have to say I haven’t ventured into the Madeleine baking process yet but my sister-in-law does and I brought her back a few silicone molds from Dehillerin. I will have to call her to see if they suck. I am going to have to try this recipe as well as a few from your book which I received at the Martha Show. Take care!
    -pots&pains (aka Shannon)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Hmm…maple syrup sounds like an interesting idea. I imagine it’ll work well – the viscosity is about the same as my citrus syrup. Honey works definitely for the same reason – when I make honey madeleines (I love using dark honey such as chestnut or buckwheat) I use essentially the same recipe, replacing the same amount of the citrus syrup with the honey.
    Simple syrup probably won’t work, since it’s a little thin, plus it’s not that interesting with just sugar+water, no?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Yes, the amount of baking powder is correct. This recipe makes 36+ madeleines, from the sound of yours it bakes just under 24, yes? That probably accounts for the difference.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    That trick of tempering the butter with a bit of batter works well, especially when dealing with a large amount of batter. I’d do it if I double this recipe. For this particular amount I found that it’s unnecessary – even if you over-work the batter mixing the butter, it’ll relax during the rest period and so won’t affect the finished products.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Oh, and, by the way, the madeleines made of brown butter and finely ground nuts are actually called financiers. ;-)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Pistachio flour – that sounds really good. I might have to try it. I bet it’s good with honey.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Yoooooo’re welcome!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    I’ve tried the silicone molds and really not a fan. For chocolate making it’s a god sent, but not for madeleines or financiers, not in my opinion.
    Did we get to say hi at the show? It was sort of a happy blur for me lol

  • http://www.whatareyoufeedingyourkidsthesedays.com Gaelle@whatareyoufeedingyourkidsthesedays.com

    I love bergamot but had not idea that it was a citrus! I Won’t be able to find it in Philly, I’m afraid! I’ll have to buy a bag of Meyers lemons instead. I am definitively trying this recipe because I love madeleines..and I agree that once you have tasted a really good one, it’s hard to swallow a not-so-good one! Merci!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/shannonpyates Shannon

    Good to know about the silicone. Perhaps I can use this as an excuse to head to Paris for a dehillerin purchase. Love that place. Mora around the corner isn’t bad either. No, we didn’t meet but we’ve been tweeting. I was in the front row at the show but I doubt you remember much of the audience from that whirlwind day! I enjoyed you very much at the show. Had already been following your blog so it was nice to see you in person!

  • http://www.authenticsuburbangourmet.blogspot.com Lisa @Authenticsuburbangourmet

    I too adore Madeleines! Love the twist that you put on them. A must try!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/thelacquerspoonblogspotcom the lacquer spoon

    How comforting!! Well, it’s a pity that we can’t get hold of fresh bergamot in Japan. I imagine your madeleine and freshly brewed tea with a slice of bergamot must be a heavenly combo :)

  • renee

    Could I put some earl grey into the making of the syrup and then strain it out? I love the flavor of bergamot (especially in the Legendes tea from Marriage Freres)and I don’t want to make then without that wonderful fragrant flavor. What do you think?

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  • http://profile.typepad.com/captrichardb Richard Bradley Bonds

    The perfect madeleine, the Platonic Ideal of the form!!!
    Gorgeous, and no doubt tastes just as good as it looks. I don’t know madeleines. Evidently I should. I’m deprived.

  • Jimmy-in-Bangkok

    Sawadee Kup – Pimmy….Nice photos. Interesting lighting. Sets a nice tone and mood for your recipe. Lovely…like you!

  • http://www.cozydelicious.com Katie @ Cozydelicious

    Funny… I always thought I didn;t really LIKE madeleines. Even the ones I had in France we, well, just funny-chaped spongy things. But now I have to wonder if I have never actually had a really good, fresh madeleine. I’m tempted to make these just to find out!

  • http://www.erikorganic.com/dining-room/dining-room-table.shtml dining room table

    This must be so delicious. I find these so comforting. I like some now.

  • http://www.indiainktattoo.com Julianne Fuchs-Musgrave

    Oh yum! I’ve done lemon, chocolate and even lavender. I wouldn’t have thought of Bergamot! Thanks!!!!!

  • http://rasamalaysia.com Rasa Malaysia

    It would be very helpful if you could share you plain madeleines recipe, I am sure many would want it. I don’t know French pastry and I actually enjoy Costco’s madeleines, they taste quite OK to me. ;)

  • http://www.obviouslyomnivore.com Xai

    oh yes, i can finish the costco ones in one sitting. eek. i just spilled my dirty little secret.

  • http://www.obviouslyomnivore.com Xai

    these madeleines look great and i want them right now! i tried making them before and they were tough. i seriously need to learn to stop mixing my batter when they’re all mixed up already.

  • http://sophisticatedgourmet.com kamran siddiqi

    Bee and Xai Crack me up. Until I began making madeleines did I absolutely learn that Starbucks madeleines are stale and aren’t as good as homemade one’s!
    I actually have a cheapo silicon pan for my madeleines, which is horrible! Silicon pans for some reason leave a taste on the madeleines, that I don’t like, so I’ve been refraining to use the pan often! I have to get a nice metal one. Heck, maybe if I’m lucky and somehow find my way in the streets of Paris, I’ll be able to pick up a nice pan from E. Dehillerin…
    As a side note… It was really great meeting you after the MS Show! I am sorry if I came off as a bit hyper and creepy (?). I have never met a famous person before! :)

  • Natalie

    I actually just made the batter an hour or two ago and it’s now in the fridge. I was lucky enough to have a Meyer lemon leftover from my tree! However, when I made the syrup it turned to caramel (before it was quite reduced to 1/2). Do you think it might have to do with Meyers having more sugar? I still used it (a little stiff!), but it took a some time in the mixer to dissolve it into the batter. The rest of the lemon caramel (does not sound too appetizing, actually) I spooned onto waxed paper for “lemon drops” to put in tea!

  • http://www.mynepenthebook.com Nani

    Best of luck Pim. I just participated in a bakesale here in Oakland (organized by the fabulous Samin Nosrat) with 3 locations (1 in SF) and all told it raised over $22,000 for Haiti. Amazing what a bunch of baked goods can do via word of mouth, a healthy dose of bakers and eaters and lots of love for the cause.
    You are really on it!!
    Romney (Nani)

  • http://southcampusbakery.blogspot.com/ Kathy Diaz

    Great stuff! I love madeleines! I made an orange flower water and cardamom flavored madeleines once. I love how yours turned nicely browned.

  • Adelina

    Hi Pim – I love reading your post about Madeleines!!! And yes, I too have to agree that you are a “Madeleines snob”!!! But to me, you seem to know about Madeleines so well comparing to most people that I know or talk to! I tried the other recipe of baking Madeleines on your site sometimes ago but they came out all right – I wasn’t too thrilled. However, I think it greatly dues to the fact that I need to learn how to fold the batter properly. Also, the other recipe that you posted didn’t require the batter to rest in the fridge before baking as well as no baking powder.
    I trust your suggestions, your recipes and your detailed advises so I’m going to try this recipe this weekend!
    Thanks so much for your un-ending creative posts!

  • http://www.murdochfamilylawyersbrisbane.com.au/ lucy

    looks great, I’m learning it, the color is never so good, maybe give it some time

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  • Judith Stewart

    Ok Pim – give it up – I live in the bay area and have never seen Bergamot – do you get it locally or mail order?

  • susan

    Beautiful post and funny timing…I was just talking to a friend about bergamots yesterday and neither of us know where to find one in/near SF.
    Do you have any tips?

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    I love love love madeleines and these look so perfect!

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  • flyfish

    Hmmm, I’m remembering something about madeleines and remembering…. hmmm :-)

  • Laurie Ellen

    They are available at The Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley. I just picked some up today.

  • http://arcticgardenstudio.blogspot.com/ Nicole

    Has anyone else actually made this recipe? Mine turned out terrible, I am wondering where I went wrong. I followed the directions exactly. They were just oozing butter…it is strange because they had a perfect little hump. It just seemed like way too much butter.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/thesundaybest Thom Wong

    Am baking these right now and wow, does this recipe ever work. They are the closest I’ve found to the ones we had not in Paris, but in St. John in Smithfields. Awesome. Thank you so much.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Hi Nicole,
    Sorry yours didn’t turn out well. Not having been there myself I can’t really say what it was, but there could be a few factors. First of all, did you measure the butter correctly? That’s a simple mistake that I sometimes made myself. You might also want the check the temperature of your oven, as home ovens are notorious for being inaccurate. Also, it’s important to let the batter rest at least a few hours, until it’s cold.
    The amount of butter in this recipe is not far from the classic at all. It shouldn’t be the problem.
    cheers,
    Pim

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Glad you loved it. I remember those madeleines at SJ B&W – they bake them to order there don’t they?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Yes, the meyers have more sugar so it’ll cook down faster and darker. Next time I’d finish when it looks syrupy – about the consistency of warm honey. I’d also cook the citrus syrup at lower heat as well, that’ll stop it getting too dark and thick too fast.

  • http://bakeanything.wordpress.com Denise

    I’m gonna try this! They never taught this in pastry school. Read your whole book today. Love it (:

  • http://www.tnoranges.blogspot.com/ Alexandra Zeevy

    I have several recipes for madeleine, but what can be more convincing than those beautiful pictures of yours? Will definitely let you know how they turn out… thank you for sharing this with us!

  • Isabel

    Hello Pim,
    I love your blog and your photos. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe, my madeleines came out perfect.
    I lived in France for a year and I remember having these specific madeleines called madeleines de Commercy: http://www.histoiresucree.com/product_pages/madeleines_de_commercy.html
    I used to eat them all the time, like croissants for breakfast!

  • Yannis

    Had the same problem :-) the syrup became thick and caramelized. Luckily i added it to the egg-sugar mixture while i had it in high speed and dropped the syrup in drop by drop almost.. and was hoping for the best.. Madeleines turned out great though.. But next time will either use less sugar or cook less time..
    btw.. In greece where i live, we make many deserts from fruit, that especially in the past people were making them to preserve fruit all year round. We make one with Bergamot and i am giving you a link to see how it looks like as i do not expect you to read the Greek in it :-)
    http://www.kopiaste.info/?p=268

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    I love my silicone molds but only for certain things that don’t depend on a good crust.

  • http://www.ghdsstraighteners.com/ GHD

    Thank you for sharing, O (∩ _ ∩) O ~,This is Amy. Message from:http://www.ghdsstraighteners.com/

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    Thanks for share,great article!^^
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  • http://foodiesemporium.com indigonat

    Oh! I will have to try these. I love madeleines. I wonder if I can find Bergamot in Montreal. Do you think I could use an infusion of tea or Bergamot essential oil instead?

  • http://www.luxuryrentalsmiamibeach.com/ vacation rentals

    Wow, they are so cute! I would have to get a form like yours, mine is so simple. Unbelievable how simple they are to make.

  • http://www.aamedya.com/ rüya tabirleri

    I want one of these madeleines right now, it would be so perfect for this rainy LA day!
    I can’t wait to try this recipe, but first to buy and madeleine mold
    and then i’m on my way to delicious delight!

  • Bruno

    Hello,

    I stumbled upon this post while linked through the Cannele post.
    I’m a french homebaker in London and do a small market on saturdays. One of my staples now are madeleines, i always do new ones.
    I also coat them sometimes, to give it an extra burst of flavor (we half coat with chocolate as well in france), but here are some of the flavors i do randomly every week:
    Green tea with a vanilla coating, lemon and lemon-thyme, with a lemon coating, chocolate with lavender, apricot and rosemary, raspberry and poppy seed with a vanilla coating, salt butter caramel… madeleines-O-rama it is!
    As for the hump, you need not put ANY extra baking powder in the batter: here’s the trick, and it will work perfectly every time: put in the madeleines in the oven @ 240, do not go away from the kitchen, watch them! as soom as the dome has formed, drop the oven temperature @180, i can garantee perfect result everytime with a perfect hump.
    Here’s a link, you won’t see the bump as they are ‘pretty side up’, but you’ll get an idea:
    http://brunosfrenchbakes.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/madeleines/

    Scroll down to see my madeleine offerings at the market:
    http://brunosfrenchbakes.com/gallery.html

  • Chris

    Do you think I could use your Bergamot Marmalade as a substitute for the syrup in this recipe? I just have to try these!

  • AmyB

    Gods bless the Mighty Pim! For years I’ve been fiddling with madeleine recipes, but this is the One! Thanks so much Pim. I will sing your praises forever more!!

  • Jnjartist

    hello, if you need bergamots they sell them at 24hourbestbuy.com. it is a strictly seasonal fruit only available starting at the 2nd week of december. they might still be available. i had been looking for these things for a few years before i stumbled onto this site. good luck

  • Ferrmq

    Hi,
    Are you using plain flour?

    cheers!