The best thing about creating food, as far as I’m concerned, is making it for other people. It’s one of my favourite ways to show I love somebody. When I was about ten, that meant trying to make a pink mushroom birthday cake for my mum, and learning the hard way that you cannot ice a cake when it’s hot from the oven. As I got older and slightly more handy in the kitchen, it has meant pancakes or scrambled eggs or huge plates of pasta for my hungry brother, and impromptu desserts for whoever is coming around for dinner. Surprise birthday cakes in sixth form and careful research to find out which baking would most cheer up a friend mid essay crisis.
And that’s how I came to make madeleines for the first time. My boyfriend has been talking for a while about a kind of cake crossed with a biscuit which he remembered from holidays in France. It took some googling to find out what he was referring to, but it turned out to be these little golden cakes — denser than a sponge, but lighter than a biscuit. And so I set about working out how to make them, then putting two into a tupperware each evening for him to take to work the next day. What can I say, I love through cake.
Traditionally, madeleines are made in a special tin which creates delicate little shell-shaped cakes. But let’s be honest, I have neither the space nor the money to buy a whole new set of trays. One day, I will have a kitchen straight out of a Lakeland Plastics catalogue. Today is not that day: I have two functioning cupboards in my kitchen, so adaptability is the name of the baking game here. I took a gamble, made my first batch in a cupcake tray, and it worked just fine. They may not be as refined as their French cousins, but I kind of enjoy their spaceship stylings. This version is delicately flavoured with vanilla and honey, and although I do ostensibly make these for M, they don’t all make it to his lunchbox…
- 100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g butter, melted
- 1 whole egg, separated, plus 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp clear honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Icing sugar, for dusting
– Preheat oven to 190c (170c fan oven or gas mark 5).
– Use a tiny amount of the melted butter to grease a 12-hole cupcake tray (or a madeleine tray if you have one) and use a sieve to dust lightly with flour.
– Mix the flour and sugar in a bowl. Put the butter, egg yolk, honey and vanilla into a separate bowl and whisk together.
– Using a hand held whisk, whisk the two egg whites until stiff.
– Fold the butter mixture into the dry ingredients until evenly mixed, then gently fold in the egg whites until thoroughly combined. Be careful not over mix (you want to keep the volume in the egg whites).
– Divide between the moulds and bake for 10-12 mins until golden brown and firm to the touch.
– Leave to cool in the moulds for a few minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack.
– Dust with icing sugar before serving, if you like.
I haven’t tried it, but I feel like these would be really fun to decorate with smarties, chocolate chips, coloured icing and strawberry laces, to make them look like actual spaceships. That would definitely be a legitimate use of time for a twenty-something, right?
Listening to: Overwhelmed by Rachel Platten, Stutter by Marianas Trench and Girl by Beck.
Edit: 10th July 2016
My mum bought us madeleine trays! These ones are kind of prettier – I even dusted them with icing sugar…
This recipe is from the BBC Good Food website. All other content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.