French Fridays with Dorie: Honey-Spiced Madeleines

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. In two straight lines they broke their bread and brushed their teeth and went to bed. They smiled at the good and frowned at the bad and sometimes they were very sad. They left the house at half past nine in two straight lines in rain or shine — the smallest one was Madeline”

 – Opening lines from Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline

I know the madeleine connection is really through Proust, but this is what kept running through my mind as I baked…

I suppose I’m a bit of a hoarder in the kitchen. I have a pantry full of obscure ingredients, in addition to the usual staples. I’m ready to make lots of not yet discovered recipes on the spur of the moment. I also have a variety of cooking tools to be prepared for who knows what.

This is a long winded of way of saying that I have had a madeleine pan for over 20 years, and this week is the first time I’ve ever used it. In fact, I’d only even had a madeleine once before. That was last year when someone told me the madeleines at Starbuck’s were good. Why I’ve had this pan for so long and never actually used it is a mystery.

So, this week, for French Fridays with Dorie, the on-line cooking group I participate in, the recipe was Honey-Spiced Madeleines. What a perfect opportunity! I had all the ingredients, and the proper bakeware, too. Actually, I didn’t have an orange, but I did have a lemon, so I substituted lemon zest for orange.

The batter for the madeleines needs to rest before baking, at least 3 hours. As a convenience, Dorie suggests that you can fill the pan with batter and chill the pan. That’s what I did, chilling it overnight. In the morning, I preheated the oven and baked the madeleines while I ate breakfast. I brought them to work as a treat for my co-workers, who seemed to appreciate them.

When preparing the pan, I decided to brush melted butter onto the pan because I thought I’d get better coverage. I liked the way it worked out. As for getting the thick eggy batter into the pan, I took a tip from Sarah at Frankly Entertaining and piped the batter instead of spooning it. I wasn’t sure whether to smooth the tops or not, so I did some of each. It didn’t seem to make a difference either way.

Dorie calls the madeleines cookies, but I think they are more like little cakes. Having only had madeleines once before, I don’t have a good point of comparison, but I liked Dorie’s version. I liked their simple elegance, and they are lovely with a cup of tea. The flavors of the honey and spices weren’t very strong. (Maybe I should have added more.) I enjoyed these enough to experiment with other flavors, and I definitely won’t wait another 20 years to use that madeleine pan again – unless I end up buying a mini-madeleine to make tinier cakes. I’m tempted.

Usually, if you want the recipe for these French Friday posts, you have to buy the book, Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. However, Dorie posted the recipe for the madeleines on her site, so you can find it here. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ thoughts on this recipe at French Fridays with Dorie.

Happy First Day of Autumn!!!!

My Sweet Autumn Clematis welcoming the season


Posted on 23 September 2011, in Baking, French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Ooh, piping the batter. Great idea! I did have slight trouble with spooning the batter because it didn’t spread well. Great post!

  2. Betsy, as a connoisseur of madeleines, a la Proust, I have always wanted to try making them. (The Starbucks ones are a regular treat, I love that they are so buttery and vanilla-y). But the cookies seem like too much work (piping the batter!) AND I don’t have a pan. Maybe someday. Then perhaps I can borrow your pan!

    BTW, I drove past your house yesterday, and the clematis is a riot of starry blooms. Beautiful. I finally planted my own. It’s so tiny compared with the older ones cascading over trellises around town.

  3. I’m glad you finally got to use your madeleine pan. Your madeleines turned out so well!

  4. Well I’m happy to hear that you finally got to use your pan. Your cakes/cookies (whatever it is that we are calling them) came out perfect and I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed them. I’m afraid to say that these did not inspire me to buy a pan of my own, but maybe I need to try the original version.

  5. Piping! Smart girl! Oh, and Starbuck’s madeleines are ‘expensive’ and ‘convenient’ and ‘pretty’ but they are not good.

  6. Love your poem, very sweet! I am also a kitchen hoarder! I know I can find just about any pan in my cabinets. Your madeleines look fantastic. Have a great weekend!

  7. Glad you got to use your pan :-)
    I loved the Madeline stories. My girls used to watch the animated version constantly when they were “wee” ones.

  8. Love Madeline. :) I really like your pan, too. I think if I ever break down and buy one, I’m going to have to hit the tag sales and try to find one that’s vintage.

  9. It really is a great idea to pipe the batter. I had a hard time spooning it in, because it was super sticky. Glad you enjoyed. I’m sure I would have preferred these with lemon zest instead of orange.

  10. Your madeleines turned out great! I too had the pan and this was the second time I used it! (I think I have had it for 15 years) That is what I like about cooking along…it gets you doing things you always wanted to…but somehow never get around to doing :-) Have a great weekeknd.

  11. I buy the Starbucks ones too when I am craving them, but they aren’t amazing in my book. But they do do the trick! These are something I have been meaning to make for a long time, and I think I will be baking these on a regular basis! They are great, delicious little treats and so easy to prepare for a little get-together! Glad you enjoyed them and your pans! … the smoothing out of the batter only seems to effect the humps that develop.

  12. Loved your tips on piping the dough and brushing the butter on the pan! Your madeleines look very pretty too, Betsy! I’m still on the fence as to whether I should actually buy a pan.

  13. Well, you beat me on storing the madeleine pan by about 19 years, Betsy! :) I knew when I got mine that I would probably make them one day and I am so glad that day came. I can’t wait to try the classic version now. I see lots of madeleines in our future. :) Your clematis looks beautiful. Happy first day of fall and I hope you have a lovely weekend!

  14. I’m so glad the piping worked for you. I can’t call them a cookie either; it just doesn’t seem right! Your madeleines look perfect, and the flowers are gorgeous!

  15. Piping the batter is a great idea – my spoon method was a little messy. I managed to avoid buying the pan (though the kitchen equipment store does have a siren call) and was quite happy with my non-authentically shaped little cakes. Happy autumn to you, too!

  16. I’m so glad you broke out the madeleine mold for this week’s FFWD! I think it’s fun to try something different and it looks like your cookies came out perfectly;-) Also love your Clematis, just beautiful!

  17. It pays to hold onto kitchen items – you never know when you might have need for them! These are really sweet looking cakes, and the color is beautiful!

  18. My madeleine pan had been gathering dust for at least 10 years! Glad you finally put yours to use, too…they look perfect!

    PS…my youngest sister was named Madeleine after the books…by the 4th daughter, my parents had run low on names, and we LOVED those stories~

  19. We loved these, too! Your clematis is gorgeous!

  20. 12 just isn’t enough, don’t you agree? They look perfect, Betsy!

  21. Thank you for visiting my madeleine post! Yours look just perfect! I also substituted lemon for orange and thought they were wonderful. I can so relate to “kitchen hoarding,” but it’s all in good fun. It is nice to read through a recipe and think, “hey, I’ve got everything I need, let’s bake!”

    Just noticed your previous post and have to say congratulations on 20 years of marriage! :)

  22. Good thing your pan came out of hiding they look great!

  23. Yours look beautiful! I definitely had too much batter in the pans!

  24. Your madeleines turned out beautifully, Betsy. Maybe piping the batter in does make a big difference. I’m inspired that you kept your pan for over 20 years, maybe I CAN fit in another baking pan in my already bulging cabinet!

    I love clematis, and I’m jealous you’ve got so many growing outside your doorstep!

    • Thanks Maya. I have to tell you, as hard as it might be to believe, that riot of clematis is just one single plant. Amazing. I cut it back to 1 foot each winter, and it grows 20-30 feet during the summer to fall. It’s even climbing up into the tree, though I don’t think you can tell that from the photo.

  25. I love the idea of madeleines for the name alone. I have three tins, and have not made them that much either (but I consider them a souvenir from our trip to Paris, so I don’t feel too bad about it). I just made them recently because this month’s MS Living had a special article on them, and I thought, well, I really had to then. (I agree, they are definitely cakes!) Honey spice sounds lovely, and the reference to the Madeline books is fantastic!

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