Madeleines

madeleines on a white plate

2018 baking goal = let’s step outside our comfort zone.

Equipped with determination, I studied and tested and retested and retested some more until I figured out the big question that is madeleines. While their fancy appearance and classy name can be intimidating, these airy teacakes require the most basic ingredients. They aren’t difficult, but they do demand your attention, patience, and precision. And a solid (very detailed) recipe to produce the light texture doesn’t hurt either!

madeleines

Let’s figure this out first: are madeleines cookies or itsy bitsy cakes? A big debate! They’re a delicate little butter cake that most people refer to as cookies. However you categorize them, madeleines are known for their beautiful and distinct scalloped shell shape and need nothing more than a sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar on top. Though a dunk in dark chocolate is nice too!!

Let’s dive in. This is a lengthy post, but I think it’s important to discuss what works and what doesn’t work so you can truly understand what you’re doing in the kitchen. We’re going to walk through the process together with step-by-step photos, detailed instructions, and then the madeleine recipe is at the bottom of this post. Break out your madeleine pan. We’re doing this!

hand dunking a madeleine into a cup of coffee

Basic Process

In this great big world, there are MANY ways to make madeleines. This is how we’re doing it today, a recipe based off of Julia Child’s. Madeleines start with a sponge-like batter, called a genoise in European baking, and get most of their lift and volume from beaten eggs. The base of our desserts is usually creamed butter and sugar. With madeleines, however, beating the eggs and sugar together is the most crucial and particular step. We’ll beat them for 8 minutes to really whip in enough air. We’ll add a little flavoring to the madeleine batter: lemon zest and a little vanilla extract, both optional. Then in a separate bowl, we’ll toss a little flour, baking powder, and salt together. We will delicately fold the flour mixture into the beaten egg mixture. Why emphasis on the delicate? We don’t want to deflate the eggs we just beat, do we?? Finally, we’ll mix in some melted butter. So as not to deflate the airy batter with a whole mess of heavy melted butter, mix *some* of the madeleine batter into the melted butter, then add it all into the madeleine batter for final mixing. If that confused you, step pictures are coming. The melted butter gives mads their classic taste, as well as a lovely shiny appearance when they finish up in the oven. If you’re feeling confident, go ahead and brown the butter. Yum!

We’ll spoon the batter into a madeleine pan. And that’s the catch! You need a specific pan. I know what you’re thinking. Is it really worth buying a new pan for just 1 type of recipe? Yes. If you’re into mads, it’s worth the $12. Here’s the pan I own and highly recommend along with the 1000+ other people on Amazon!!

Can I bake madeleines in another pan? Sure! A mini muffin pan works, but the texture of the little cakes will be different. I found that you really need the scallop pan to produce the iconic crisp edges.

ingredients for madeleines

The Batter

You see the photo above? It shows that there are 3 components to the recipe. The flour mixture, beaten egg mixture, and melted butter. Tip: when you’re ready to begin, melt the butter first so it has at least 8 minutes to slightly cool before using. Remember, we are whipping the eggs for 8 minutes.

Like I mentioned, the most particular step in madeleine baking is whipping the eggs long enough. You’ll need room temperature eggs. Cold eggs won’t reach the volume we need for madeleines. You’ll know you whipped the eggs long enough when the mixture is thick and pale. And this might be the most helpful clue– when the beater is raised, a ribbon of batter will fall back into the bowl. Aka the ribbon stage!

So now that the eggs (+ sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla) are beaten… let’s continue.

collage of 4 images showing various stages of madeleine batter in glass bowls

In the photo above, we are (1) folding the dry ingredients into the beaten egg mixture, making sure we aren’t deflating the eggs. When we’re all done, our batter will look like photo (2). Then (3) we’ll take some of that batter and mix it into the melted butter. Then (4) we’ll mix that into the rest of the batter.

We’re doing everything slowly and delicately.

Chilling the Batter

Just like most of the cookie doughs in our repertoires, madeleine batter needs to chill out before baking. Letting the batter rest in the refrigerator ultimately helps the mads rise up taller in the oven. Taller usually means fluffier, which is exactly what we’re shooting for. But don’t chill the batter for too long and here’s why: the butter will solidify again. And when baked, the madeleines won’t rise up as tall which negates the whole point of chilling the batter! Good thing madeleines are delicious because they sure do have lots of rules.

I find 30-60 minutes in the refrigerator is the sweet spot.

Preparing the Pan

Many madeleine recipes call for greasing the madeleine pan regardless if you’re using a nonstick madeleine pan or not. I tested a few ways: nonstick spray, buttering and flouring, and just buttering. Honestly, nonstick spray worked absolutely fine but brushing the pan with melted butter gave the mads a lovely crisp and buttery crust. I wasn’t fond of the butter + flour preparation because the flour either burned or left a residue on the baked cookies. Just my opinion.

A pastry brush comes in handy!

brushing madeleine pan with melted butter

madeleine batter in madeleine pan before baking

How much batter per cookie? I found 1 heaping Tbsp was plenty. Use a basic spoon and just plop it right into the center of the scallop shell, just like this:

madeleine batter in madeleine pan before baking

I tested madeleines at varying oven temperatures and settled on 350°F (177°C). Anything higher than that burned the edges without properly cooking the centers.

madeleines in madeleine pan after baking

Look at that rise! This is called the belly, hump, or bump of a madeleine.

Madeleines are best right out of the oven. They’ll lose a lot of moisture overtime, so I suggest baking and enjoying them fresh. I had lots of madeleine rocks on my hands after a day or 2. (Dunk them in coffee… still good!)

madeleines

So Are They Worth the Fuss?

Yes, I definitely think so! Laced with fresh lemon zest and finished with confectioners’ sugar, their texture is undoubtedly unique. Delightfully crisp edges, buttery scallops, and a subtly sweet airy teacake inside. To say they’re delicious is an understatement. They’re remarkable. A French pastry I never thought I could recreate in my own kitchen. Invite some friends over, brew some coffee, pour some tea, and bake them together. It’s a fun baking experience!

If you read the recipe and use these pictures as your guide, you’ll be gifted with these fancy treats too. If, somewhere along the way, your batter gets a little too heavy– no fret. Your mads will taste more like poundcake, but they’ll still be worth it.

Do you have a favorite madeleine recipe? Or any other tips and tricks? I’m pretty happy with these, but would love learning from any madeleine experts!

madeleines on a white plate

By the way, I can’t finish this post without two more things:

  1. The history of madeleines. 🙂
  2. Ross: Oh really? Did she tell you he plays the recorder, recites poetry, and bakes madeleines? Monica: Ohhhh how are they? Ross: Lighter than air… but that’s not the point!
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madeleines

Madeleines

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 18-20 cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: French

Description

Light & airy homemade madeleines with delicious buttery lemon flavor.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter (plus another 2 Tbsp for the pan)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (115g) sifted all-purpose flour* (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • optional: confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling on top

Special Tools


Instructions

  1. Read the post above for explanations and step-by-step pictures. It will help you!
  2. Melt the butter and set aside to slightly cool as you prepare the rest of the batter. You can melt it in the microwave or melt it/brown it on the stovetop.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (didn’t notice a difference using either one), beat the eggs and sugar together on high speed for at least 8 minutes. The mixture will be thick, pale, and form ribbons when you lift the beater(s). Beat in the lemon zest and vanilla extract until combined. (The remaining ingredients are mixed together by hand;  you no longer need the mixer.)
  4. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold into egg mixture. I suggest carefully folding in half of the flour mixture, then folding in the other half. (Instead of dumping it all in at once.) Make sure you’re handling this batter with care. It’s very delicate.
  5. Stir 1/4 cup of the batter into the melted butter. It will take a minute to fully incorporate. Then stir it all into the rest of the batter. The batter will be thick, silky, and shiny.
  6. Cover the batter and chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. Try not to chill any longer than this as the butter in the batter will begin to solidify.
  7. During the last few minutes of chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  8. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the pan with melted butter. I find that greasing the pan is necessary even if you’re using a nonstick pan. We want to avoid any chance of sticking.
  9. The batter will be quite airy and spongey after resting. This is good! Do not try to deflate it. Spoon 1 generous Tablespoon of batter into the center of each scalloped well. No need to spread it to the edges. Just plop it in the center. (Cover and refrigerate remaining batter if you do not have 2 madeleine pans to bake the batter all at once.)
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The madeleines are done when the tops spring back after lightly pressed with your finger. Invert the pan onto the counter. Transfer the warm madeleines to a wire rack to lightly cool.
  11. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, before serving. Madeleines are best enjoyed right after baking, so I don’t have any make-ahead tips. They dry out very quickly; I find baked and covered madeleines lose their texture even after 1 day! For this reason, I don’t recommend freezing them either. You’ll lose a lot of texture.

Notes

  1. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Measuring Bowl | Zester | Spatula | Pastry Brush | Madeleine Pan | Sifter | Glass Mugs
  2. Flour: Sift flour before measuring.
  3. Adapted from From Julia Child’s Kitchen (I reduced the sugar, oven temperature, sifted the flour, added baking powder, and did not flour the pan)

247 Comments

  1. How would you suggest adjusting the recipe for a mini madeleines tray?

    1. Prema Monteiro says:

      Bake for a much shorter period of time, sort of like regular cupcakes/muffins vs. mini cupcakes/muffins.

  2. hi! my batter became almost dough-like after incorporating the dry ingredients into the beaten-pale eggs. did I fold in too vigorously?

    1. Anna Rekatas says:

      The same happened to me, but became a lot thinner after adding the melted butter.

  3. Hi Thanks for the recipe which I used because I couldn’t find my usual one.
    Tasted great – except that the cakes stuck fast in my Teflon Madeleine pans.
    So annoying as I had to dig them out bit by bit.
    I had buttered the two pans as per your directions.
    I had enough batter to make 6 more cakes so this time I buttered and floured the pan – still had to dig them out!
    Whenever I have made this before and buttered and floured the pans I’ve easily tipped the cakes out.

    1. Prema Monteiro says:

      Use the Wilton Bake Easy spray especially for baked products such as Madeleines which MUST come out of the pan intact, it is magical if a little spendy. I have used the Great Value equivalent with excellent results. I guess Bakers Joy or Pam Baking sprays which have shortening and flour mixed together will all work too. Good luck!

      1. We made some but there was no scallop impression. We got the him though. Any reason to why there was no impression?

  4. Hi! Do you use unbleached or bleached flour? Thanks!

    1. Hi Johanna! We usually bake with unbleached flour.

  5. Madeleines are heavenly dipped into vanilla creme anglaise !

  6. Wow, honestly the best recipe I have found for madeleines. I put the zest of 2 whole lemons as I like the lemon flavor and they are absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. My first attempt at Madeleines. Yummy.!! I used 2tsp orange rind instead of lemon rind which I loved.
    I buttered and floured my pans (shaking out the excess flour very well) and they popped out very easily. Will make these again.

  8. Worst madeleines recipe I have found. Every step of the recipe after wisking destroys and breaks down this batter, if you follow the instructions. And you better not think of resting this in the fridge if you have a fridge that has any cooling properties as it will turn your batter so hard it is unusable. Never again.

    1. I followed the recipe to the T and although I left my batter in the fridge overnight, I find that it was still firm enough to use an ice cream scoop onto the pan. It baked out well, and the taste and texture was beyond great. I finished the small cakes with a lemon glaze and a sprinkle of lavender sea salt.

  9. Sachina Dominic says:

    The madeleines turned out great! It had just the right texture and sweetness. Thanks for the handy tips too, they really helped!

    1. I was reading through this recipe and was surprised that you did not talk or emphasize browning the butter, which is one of the key elements in Madeleines.

  10. Another delicious recipe from Sally!! I really appreciate the detailed instructions as well as the photos! I chilled my batter & my pan 30 mins. I did butter & flour my pan. The Madeleines came out bakery perfect! Thank you Sally!

  11. The best madeleines I have ever tried. all my friends and family think the same. Thank you sally! I have made the recipe around eight times, once I doubled the batch for my birthday, I always chill around forty minutes, but if it over-chills I rest the batter at room temp then whisk for around half a minute. I usually just brush the pan with melted butter, no flour. Try it with hot cocoa, coffee, or tea! I made a chocolate ganache once though.

  12. the madeleines stuck to the pan and had a weird texture. not as airy as other recipes

  13. Delicious

  14. Came out perfect! Definitely want to try browning the butter next time!

  15. Came out absolutely perfectly. For those saying the madeleines stuck to their tin, grease the tin with butter or marge first and then sprinkle flour over the top and tap any excess off into the bin. Worked perfectly for me and the madeleines slid right out of the tin.

  16. Merci beacoup! Cette recette est parfait et j’aime bien. Mes madelines étaient beaux et ma famille a pensé qu’ils étaient délicieux. Elles étaient meilleures que les madeleines que j’achetais chez Costco.

  17. is there any way to make these without the Madeleine pan?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maria, a mini muffin pan works, but the texture of the little cakes will be different. We found that you really need the scallop pan to produce the iconic crisp edges.

  18. I accidentally used an extra 10 grams of melted butter and my batter looked very oily. So I added about 8 tbsp of flour to soak up the excess oil.
    Now my batter said looks kind of lumpy and is sitting in the fridge. I like to know if what I did to correct my mistake is appropriate. It still looks oily, though it is not as oily as was the case just now.

    After I had creamed eggs and sugar together for 8 minutes the mixture looked very light and airy. However the moment I start to fold in half the flour, the batter immediately deflate, as in it because smaller. Is it supposed to be like that?

    1. The Madeleines were amazing, looked great. Scaled up the recipe and made quite a few for work. Coated some of them on the non-patterned surface with dark chocolate and St Patrick’s day themed festive sprinkles. Thanks for the recipe!
      As it says above, be patient and keep whisking the eggs and sugar for the whole 8 minutes.

  19. I’ve had a pan for years but have never made these and found. Your recipe and their in the oven as we speak excited to try these out fingers crossed!

  20. In addition to my previous comment the cakes came out beautiful in color and shape. I greased my already non stick pan as required with melted butter they came out beautifully no sticking at all. I never got the icon bump on the one side but I didn’t mind and I found them. More cakey dense and a bit spongy but I enjoyed them just the same I probably will make them again cause I love anything lemon based. I also noticed I kept the dough in the fridge for 1hr as required and it was kind of firm but I still made 21 nice cakes.

  21. Excellent recipe. Well explained. My madeleines were beautiful!

  22. Madeleine Cogbill says:

    Quick question: Do you sift all the dry ingredients or just the flour?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Just sifting the flour will be sufficient. Happy baking!

  23. I agree with some of the comments that chilling as long as the recipe instructs makes the batter much too hard. But, after leaving the batter at room temp for 10ish minutes, I was easily able to scoop. Also, I used a mini silicon Madeleine pan and they were springy and just beginning to brown on the edges at 11 minutes. Came out great!

  24. No idea why there was no scallop impression. Do you mean scalloping on the edges of the cake/cookie or simply the lines on the back? If you mean the edges, I have found that if the bake temp/oven heat is too high, that may happen, because the batter begins to set up before it has liquified enough to settle into the grooves of the madeleine form. Don’t be discouraged, I am sure they were delicious and you were perhaps being over-critical of your product. As long as they taste good, and have risen fairly well, you’ve got yourself a winner. These aren’t like macarons which are a tad more fussy.

  25. Bernard Farrell says:

    First time making and eating madeleine’s and they were wonderful. On our pan we got 16 madeleines in 2 batches. An easy recipe overall and one we’ll be making again.

  26. May i ask if we have to bake it with fan or without? Thanks

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