Last Christmas, I got a madeleine tin. I was excited to have such a one-purpose piece of kitchenalia, but there was a problem. The problem was, I had never really "got" madeleines.
Everyone else seems to be a madeleine fan, judging by how often I see them perched by tills in cafes, and they've cropped up at numerous markets I've been to lately. It's not that I didn't like them, but they always seemed a bit bland and lacking. I did take some comfort that Proust had to dip his in tea to get excited about them (and he wasn't really even getting excited about the madeleine itself, it was the memories it brought back. To me, madeleines remind me of going to my friend's house after school and having to feed her cats as she didn't like the smell of tuna.)
I felt bad about the pan though. It lived in a dresser with some wrapping paper and spare toiletries, before being upgraded to the middle shelf of the baking cupboard, albeit at the back. So, after making the Korova cookies the other day, I flipped forward a few pages in "Paris Sweets" and made some madeleines.
The recipe itself is fairly simple, and I upped the vanilla and lemon to squeeze a bit more flavour in to the madeleines. After resting the batter in the fridge, I carefully spooned 12 dollops of batter in to the shell holes on the tray, and put it in the oven for 12 minutes.
I was surprised at how high the madeleines rose (the left over batter, which I baked 2 days later, rose even higher. It was almost obscene). The rise was just enough to mirror the scalloping on the other side, so the madeleines were nicely symmetrical.
So now for the tasting. Had I just been eating bad madeleines all these years?
Well, yes and no. Madeleines straight out of the oven were a revelation. The inside was still soft, cakey, and a tad bland, but now it was paired with a crispy crust that was utterly moreish. The ones that managed to survive until the next day were not so great, with the crispy crust now replaced by a slightly chewier bit of bland cakeyness.
As the batter can last for several days in the fridge, I think from now on I'll be baking small batches to eat immediately. The recipe also has a couple of suggestions for different flavours, the Earl Gray variation certainly sounds intriguing!