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

187 Comments

  1. Absolutely love your recipe! I’m a novice baker and so glad I found your madeleine recipe. Followed your step-by-step instructions (love the detailed explanation by the way) and made a very successful first batch! I’m planning to make it again this weekend! Thank you!

    1. No offense, but this was not the recipe I was hoping for. I love the presentation of your website, but my cookies were very dry and the whole lump them the way you did in the photo on the pan left my cookies without the madeleines shape. I recommend changing this recipe.

      1. Rudehamster says:

        Oh dear, we are a grumpy bunny, aren’t we.
        Have you maybe considered, noting the number of positive comments and the fact is a pretty stand treatment for Madeleines, that the recipe is okay, and it is your cooking which was at fault?

        Perhaps it was a bad day for baking? The ambient temperature can affect the results. Maybe it was the quality of your ingredients which let you down?
        Or…and I say this knowing that I am as guilty of this as everyone else at times…could it be that you didn’t do exactly as the recipe said and, because things went wrong, are throwing your toys out of your pram, blaming everything bar your own inability to follow a recipe?

        As I say, we’re all guilty of doing that at times. By all means, claim the glory when your corner cutting goes well, but please don’t blame the recipe when it doesn’t.
        X

  2. Sandhya Venkatesh says:

    Madeleines was in my todo list for a very long time. I was scared to try because of the long and delicate process. But after reading your recipe, I felt confident and easy to try. So immediately I tried the recipe and it turned out lovely. Thank you for the detailed instructions. It was very helpful. The madeleines came out very beautiful, soft and fluffy.

  3. Jaime hoi says:

    Can I replace lemom zest with lemon juice? How much will you recommend?

  4. After I mixed in the flour, my batter was pretty thick. When I tried to mix some of it with the butter at first it wasn’t combining well so I just combined all of the butter with the batter, but it looks a little bit clumpy/ not smooth. Now it’s in the fridge. Do you think it was because my eggs were not fully room temperature (I took them out right before I melted the butter at the beginning but they were still a little chilly)? I cut the sugar from 100g to 70g, but I measured the flour with an electronic balance and followed everything else exactly as you said. What went wrong? I’m a beginner baker but your recipe seemed pretty easy so I decided to try it out. Thanks!

    1. Hi Laur, did you add more flour then? Sorry if I’m misunderstanding. Flour soaks up more moisture than sugar. I recommend following the recipe exactly as written with these sugar and flour amounts.

      1. Hi Sally, no, except for the sugar I used the same measurements as the recipe. However, they just came out of the oven and taste great! The batter was pretty stiff and looked like it had cooled to a solid after I took it out of the fridge, but after baking they look and taste just like I’d expected. The recipe and instructions were really easy to follow! I don’t know why my batter was acting weird.

  5. Made this first time and it came out perfect ! On to your macarons next 🙂

  6. Another great recipe. I made these for Mother’s Day and they were wonderful. They are so light.

  7. Can you use lemon extract instead of Lemmon zest by the way love your recipes

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Feel free to use 1 teaspoon of lemon extract instead of (or in addition to) the lemon zest.

  8. Debanjana Chatterjee says:

    Love this recipe. I did not have lemons so substituted orange zest. Following the critical steps on the recipe (consistency of batter, cooling butter etc ) are key.

  9. Madeleines taste wonderful but I didn’t get clear lines from the mold. Any advice?

    Thanks love the flavor!

    1. Hi Jean! Make sure that you chill the dough for at least 30-60 minutes. Colder, thicker dough will help guarantee that scalloped appearance. And this also depends on the pan you’re using– do they appear deep on the pan?

  10. Jean Allsworth says:

    Hi Sally,

    Thanks for the quick response! The grooves are fairly deep, I can definitely feel them when I run my finger over them. They run the length of the cake. I did chill the dough for about 40 minutes – but I live in Los Angeles, and it was hot this weekend. Got a nice bump but no detail on the shells. Will try again and try to bake earlier in the day when it is cooler.

  11. Hi sally, did u ever tried to make the chocolate ones?

    1. Hi Mira, I haven’t tested a chocolate version of these. Let me know if you find a good one!

  12. Sandra Teodori says:

    Loved this recipe! I prefer the crisp exterior of this type of cookie. I prefer vanilla to lemon so I reduced the zest by half. This is just personal preference and they tasted exactly as I hoped.

  13. I tried these and they come out perfect! Light, airey, lemony and the perfect snack for afternoon tea. I baked them for 13 minutes to get a nice brown on the scalloped side. 10 minutes doesn’t get that nice brown. And also using 1tbsp of batter (no more less, no more) makes the perfect size biscuits!

  14. Amazing recipe! Thank you for the tips. I followed the exact recipe and they came out perfectly. They taste lovely and this was the first time I made them!

  15. Just made these tonight! They look & taste great! Although I didn’t read the bit about them drying out & not keeping well until I’d made them, and I’ve made them for tomorrow morning! So I’ve waited for them to cool & put them in a tupperware container on the worktop in the hopes that they’ll still last until the morning! Fingers crossed! Will definitely use this recipe for all future Madeleine bakes! Thank you

  16. Eliana Johnston says:

    This was my first time making madeleines and this recipe was so helpful! They turned out amazing!

  17. Hi Sally! I made madeleines using your recipe and they turned out great! My friends and family loved them. Thank you so much for the recipe

  18. Hi Sally! Love this recipe but I was wondering if the granulated sugar could be replaced with brown sugar instead? I’ve just run out of granulated sugar!

    1. Hi Scia, I haven’t tested these using brown sugar so I’m unsure of the results. Let me know if you try!

  19. Thank you for this recipe. I followed everything (measurements, technique, oven temp) exactly and the madeleines were perfect.

  20. Janet Lynn Pendleton says:

    Can you do a double recipe? Or, would it be best to do 2- single recipes? I’m worried about the eggs coming out correctly.

    1. Hi Janet, for best taste and texture, I strongly recommend making the dough/batter twice instead of doubling.

  21. Janet Lynn Pendleton says:

    Thank you. I had a hunch I should do that.

  22. omigoodness….never made a Madeleine in my life. Bought a pan last month after watching the British Baking Show. Just tried your recipe this morning. Followed everything exactly as stated except I beat the egg mixture for 10 minutes because I didn’t see the ribbon effect until then. They came out perfectly. Seriously…perfectly! Going to dip half the batch in chocolate and sprinkle the other half with confect. sugar. Thank you for sharing your baking knowledge and making the rest of us look good.

  23. I’m sorry but this recipe is just really bad. ☹️ Overall i made 80 madeleines different batches. It never got it into how it is supposed to look like. I’m just tired and traumatized by this experience. Lol

  24. Thank you for this amazing recipe!! I followed it exactly, no improvising or tweaking, and they came out PERFECT! I let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Tastes just like the ones I buy at the French bakery near me – buttery, just the right amount of lemon flavor, crisp edges, moist and fluffy. I will definitely be making this for friends and family in the future.

  25. Vicki P Medley says:

    Great recipe!!! I don’t know why some people are having problems with it. My 5 year old granddaughter and I made these together and they came out so delicious. Thank you!

  26. I have tried about 3 other Madeleine cookie recipes (all turned out very spongy and dry), so I tried these, and I loved them! I baked them in my mini Madeleine molds and baked them for 5-6 min. They have such a delicate lemon flavor, and the texture is light and pillowy without being dry at all. I’m quarantining with my husband’s family, and they were all so impressed with how yummy these are!
    I browned the butter which also added very nice flavor, so I recommend doing that! A nice dusting of powdered sugar perfectly finished these off!

  27. Delicious! This is my second time making Madeleines (the first time being Julia Child’s recipe from which this was adapted) and these are just as lovely and tasty! Thank you! I love your recipes.

  28. Just made it! And I love it

  29. Can this be made without the lemon zest?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      You can leave it out, or replace with 1 teaspoon of lemon extract instead.

  30. These turned out delicious! I followed the recipe exactly, except reduced the sugar just a bit and added a little less than 1 tablespoon of lavender along with the vanilla and lemon. The bottoms have the madeleine shape and lines; the top is funny looking 🙂

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