Bonjour, and welcome to the first in my very special week-long celebration of everything French, Spanish, and Italian. As I may have mentioned a few times, Katie and I recently spent two gorgeous weeks cruising around the Mediterranean with my family, so forgive me if I’m just not ready to let go of the sunshine, incredible food, and breathtaking scenery.
I will be sharing a new recipe every single day this week, ending with something a little unusual for this blog on Sunday.
First up, we’re shading to beautiful France in order to chow down on some classic French Madeleines… with a twist. It wouldn’t be What Charlotte Baked if I didn’t manage to add something altogether more British – I’m looking at you Terry’s Chocolate Orange – to the mix.
If you’re a novice Madeleine maker like myself, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised with just how uncomplicated these little French treats actually are. On a difficulty scale from 1 all the way up to French Macarons, Madeleines are about a 2. And they’re also really fun to watch bake in the oven, going from dead flat to pointy hump in a matter of minutes. It’s baking wizardry.
The actual Madeleines are the standard French recipe you can find in any good cookbook, but with some added orange juice and zest. For once I restrained myself from putting chocolate into the batter, and instead you are left with a delicate buy zesty orange flavoured little sponge cake.
I’m a serial under-baker, as I love my baked goods to be soft and delicate, so I removed these from the oven after the 9 minute mark. If you prefer your Madeleines a little more crispy on the outside, leave them in there for up to 11 minutes. Any more than that and you’re risking a dry sponge. And there ain’t nobody who wants that.
I’m a Madeleine, get me out of here!
There is one crucial area where your Madeleines are going to make or break (literally), and that’s when you’re trying to get them out of the pan. Due to the little ridges on the back of the shells, Madeleines want to stay put in their baking tray much more fiercely than usual sponge cakes. There are three bits of advice I can give you:
- Use a non-stick Madeleine pan. Make sure there are no scratches or damage in the shells of the tin.
- Use both melted butter and a sprinkling of flour in the shells of the pan.
- Remove the Madeleines from the pan pretty much as soon as they’re out of the oven. Any hanging around is just going to let them settle in to their little homes even more. But don’t burn yourself – use a towel.
I loosened the edges of the Madeleines from the pan with a fork before I tipped them out onto a cooling rack. I know that removing them straight away goes against everything you’ve ever been taught as a baker, but it’s fundamental to the end result being perfectly formed shells, rather than pieces of cake you’ve hacked out of a pan.
It’s Chilling Time
The only weird process about making French Madeleines is the cooling of the batter. Not immediately baking cake batter is usually frowned upon by us bakers, as it can mess with the structure of the cake and you can lose any precious air bubbles you’ve got in there.
With Madeleines, the chilling of the batter actually helps the little cuties to rise up in the oven, and is the key to getting the hump on the back that all good Madeleines strive for. It’s all to do with the batter being thicker once chilled. Don’t chill for more than an hour though, as you don’t want the melted butter to completely solidify. Half an hour is usually perfect.
I also chilled my Madeleine pan alongside the batter, as this has been shown to help with the rising too. Don’t ask me why. Make sure you brush with melted butter and then sprinkle with flour after you’ve chilled your pan though, otherwise the butter will harden in the bottom of the shells.
Chocolate Orange French Madeleines
Classic orange French Madeleines + melted orange chocolate = something a little bit special.
- 100 g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
- 2 large eggs
- 100 g caster sugar
- 100 g plain or all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
- 2 teaspoons orange juice
- 2 large oranges, zested
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 150 g orange flavoured dark (bittersweet) chocolate
Melt the butter, either in the microwave or in a small saucepan, and then set aside to cool slightly.
Place the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and whisk together on high until foamy. Add the flour, orange juice, orange zest, baking powder, salt, and melted butter to the egg mixture and whisk together slowly until everything is fully incorporated.
Place the Madeleine batter in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill, along with the Madeleine baking tray. This will help the Madeleines get that little bump on the back.
Preheat your oven to 200°C / 390°F (180°C fan) before the chilling time has elapsed. Once the oven is hot, remove the Madeleine baking tray from the fridge and brush with melted butter. I also like to dust the tray with plain flour, as this will help to prevent the Madeleines from sticking too much. Shake off any excess flour.
Remove the batter from the fridge and spoon into the Madeleine tray. Fill each shell almost to the top, as the batter won’t spread too much in the oven, only rise upwards. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until slightly golden, springy to the touch, and a skewer or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Almost immediately, loosen the Madeleines from the tray using a fork, and then gently remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to finish cooling. If you leave the Madeleines to cool in the baking tray then they will almost certainly get stuck!
Once the Madeleines are cool, it is time to dip them in the orange chocolate. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate has completely melted. Pour into a mug or other tall and narrow bowl and dip the cooled Madeleines into the chocolate. Shake off any excess chocolate and then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Pop in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to completely set.
These Madeleines should stay fresh for 2-3 days if stored in an airtight container, although they are at their absolute best soon after coming out of the oven. The Madeleines can also be frozen for 2-3 months.