Madeleines

Light & airy homemade madeleines with delicious buttery lemon flavor. Step by step photos and instructions on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!

Light & airy homemade madeleines with delicious buttery lemon flavor. Step by step photos and instructions on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!

Light & airy homemade madeleines with delicious buttery lemon flavor. Step by step photos and instructions on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 homemade madeleine cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to make homemade madeleines on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!

Butter the madeleine pan on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make homemade madeleines on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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:

How to make homemade madeleines on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to make homemade madeleines on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!)

Light & airy homemade madeleines with delicious buttery lemon flavor. Step by step photos and instructions on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!

Light & airy homemade madeleines with delicious buttery lemon flavor. Step by step photos and instructions on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!
Print

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*
  • 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!

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)
Light & airy homemade madeleines with delicious buttery lemon flavor. Step by step photos and instructions on sallysbakingaddiction.com

171 Comments

  1. Thank you SO much for all of this information and the recipe! I’ve been wanting to try madeleines FOREVER . . . 🙂 These look great and I can’t wait to try them! Thanks, again!

  2. Can’t wait to try these! QUESTION: if I’m measuring the flour by WEIGHT, does it matter if it’s sifted or unsifted? In other words, I’m not sure if the sifting is to get a correct 1 cup, which would make sifting unnecessary if measuring by the 115 g, or if it’s for a texture/air reason. Unless… does sifted flour weigh a different amount than unsifted flour because of air? Somehow? Ack I am making myself confused/stupid…

    1. Hey Ashley! I would sift the flour then weigh out 115g of it. You’ll want to aerate the flour regardless of how you measure it!

  3. I’ve been wanting to try to make madeleines for a while now and recently ordered a pan off Amazon. Perfect timing! I made these this afternoon and they were fantastic! No issues at all for me. My family said they were almost too good! Thanks for another wonderful recipe Sally! 🙂

  4. I took some to work and they thought there should be a dip or frosting with it, because it is like eating plain cake–plain. Any ideas on how to jazz them up?
    Love your site and recipes!

    1. Dip them in tea or coffee next time 🙂 But to add a little something next time, you can dip in white/dark chocolate or drizzle with chocolate. Or top with lemon glaze. Or try browning the butter for more flavor!

  5. I love that you love Friends as much as me, as soon as I saw you were making madeleines that quote is the first thing that popped into my head! 🙂
    Hope things are going well with Noelle, I’m awed at how much work you’re doing so soon! 🙂

    1. Noelle is GREAT! Finally feeling like I’m getting this whole mom thing down. Balancing work and family time is tough right now, but I’m doing what I can 🙂

      1. You’re doing amazing, took me at least 6 months to figure out the Mum thing, and I wasn’t working! Expecting number 2 in 2 weeks so hoping it’ll be a bit smoother this time! Lx

  6. Hi Sally, these look great! I love your blog! Thank you for all of these fantastic recipes!!! 🙂
    P.S. You said that your Mom makes coconut cherry cookies, and those sound soooo good! Do you think you might post the recipe on your blog soon! If so, I would appreciate it.. 😉 Thank you!

  7. I really want these Madeline’s right now but I am so bad at baking. I can cook but baking is a whole different story. But I love your recipe Sally so I might give it a try and get back to you 🙂

  8. I’m so glad you posted this recipe – I received a madeleine pan for Christmas and I’ve been dying to use it!  I tried your recipe for the first time today and they turned out great!  As usual, your instructions were detailed and thorough – I followed them exactly and my madeleines were perfect.  I saw your comment that they’re not make-ahead-friendly, but have you tried freezing them?  Also, the lemon zest was delightful, but I would love it if you could post some more flavors! 

    1. Thanks Dana! So glad you tried them. I want to try them again soon with orange zest and even a light orange glaze on top. And browning the butter too!

  9. Madeleines have always been one of my favourite thing to bake ! 
    Very easy to make, once you get the hang of it! Yours look great 🙂

  10. Hi Sally,

    I just made the recipe today. They were delicious! The texture was perfect. 
    Thank you for your suggestion and taking the time to write a detailed recipe. 

  11. These have been on my to bake list for years, you have laid it all out so beautifully! 2018 must be the year! Gorgeous photos per usual! 🙂 Dunking in chocolate would definitely be a good option for me too 😉

  12. THANK YOU for including the Friends reference– that’s all I could think of while reading this post. I can’t wait to bake up some of these beauties using your recipe.

  13. WOW! I made these today and they turned out amazing! I just have one question: can you replace the lemon zest for something else? And what would that something else be?

    1. Orange zest would be great! Or you can use another flavor of extract besides vanilla. You can also brown the butter for a different flavor as well.

  14. Hi sally I wanted to ask you something about a previous recipe you did the super moist chocolate cupcakes .In the recipe you wrote that we can use canola, vegetable or coconut oil
    But instead can I use olive or sunflower oil is it okay will i get the same results or will it change the taste?
    And also you wrote all purpose flour i can’t find that can i use plain flour is that the same will it be okay? THANKS

    1. Hi Kat! You can use olive oil or sunflower oil, but you may be able to taste them in the cupcakes. Plain flour is the same, so you can use that!

  15. Hi Sally! I’m so excited to try these!! I want to make these for my friends birthday but she lives across the country. Would you recommend mailing them? 

  16. Hi Sally — If we decide to brown the butter, do we need to increase the amount of butter we start with, since the volume will reduce? Or is keeping the same amount of butter just fine?

    Can’t wait to try these! 🙂 Thanks for the detailed explanation and gorgeous pics!

    1. Hi Anna! You’d actually start with the same amount of butter, whether you are browning it or not. Let me know how they turn out!

      1. Hi Sally —

        I just made them yesterday with the brown butter, and they turned out WONDERFULLY. So light but flavorful. Thanks for another great recipe!

  17. Hi Sally! These madeleines look so good and I want to try them. I have one question though. The link for the Madeline pan fits 12 madeleines. Your recipe makes 18-20. Does that mean you have to bake half of the madeleines then bake the other half?

  18. Hi Sally, I have a question about Madeleine recipes. I noticed a slight difference between your’s and Julia Child’s recipe. In Julia Child’s recipe, the sugar and 1 cup of flour is mixed with the egg vs. mixing in the flour after the egg and sugar mixture. Does that make any difference? Have you try that method?

    1. I found that the eggs never quite got to the ribbon stage without the sugar being added first. That’s just my experience. I had better luck with my finished madeleines this way. Try it either way!

  19. Hi Sally,

    I made these madeleines tonight using orange zest instead of lemon.  Thank you for laying out the recipe and making it so easy to follow.  They turned out absolutely amazing! So incredible!

  20. Well, Madeleines have been on my list for ages and madeleines tins were half price this morning so I couldn’t wait any longer.

    Err, it seems that I have managed to make 6 disappear before I even got the second batch out of the oven.

    I love the crispy buttery edges with the airy centres. So simple yet so good.

  21. Hi Sally!

    These Madelines were just something else! So delicious! It had me thinking about some other things you’ve done on your site…like adding the freeze dried strawberry powder to your strawberry buttercream…I wonder if that would work here? I’m not sure if some flour would need to be taken out or to just leave it the same…but I’m sure a little couldn’t hurt 😉

    1. Hi Rose! You know, I’ve thought about trying freeze-dried strawberry powder in these madeleines too, but I haven’t tried it yet. Please let me know if you do!

  22. Hey Sally! It’s an amazing recipe to try out soon. I would like to ask how do you maintain the freshness till the next day? In the fridge or airtight containers? =) looking forward to your reply!

    1. Hi Candice! Madeleines are best enjoyed right after they’re prepared. They dry out very quickly and I find they lose their texture even after stored in airtight containers for 1 day!

  23. Hello Sally, love your blog! 🙂
    Excuse my ignorance, I am not by far a baking aficionado, I am just merely trying to get things right in the kitchen for personal enjoyment :))) So I have a couple of questions:
    1. What is the difference (if any) if you beat the egg whites separately and then fold them into the batter? Isn’t this technique supposed to make spongecake fluffy? (I mean besides creaming the yolks and shugar)
    2. Do the egg whites (room temperature) become flat and cannot be beaten to soft peak texture if you add a pinch of salt to them? I had it happen, and I assumed it was the salt’s fault…(?) Or is it the (room) temperature too warm sometimes? Because after it happen, I had to grab some cold eggs from the fridge, and I beat them to meringue consistency on the spot…
    3. Can I use coconut sugar? Or at least cane sugar?
    Thanks xoxo

    1. Hi Gabi! I’m happy to help.
      1) There likely wouldn’t be much difference texture-wise.
      2) Salt could be the culprit in that situation. But in this recipe there is no need to separate the eggs and the salt is added with the dry ingredients.
      3) No, I recommend regular granulated white sugar.

  24. I’m thinking about adding mini chocolate chips the 2nd time I make these. How much would you recommend? Do you think ½ C would be too much/too little? Thanks!

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