Madeleine cakes remind me of summer holidays. When with the family in France, we’ve something of a tradition (if 3 years is enough for that) of buying a bag of Madeleine cakes when at the cheese stand at the local market. The idea is that they’ll be good as snacks on days out or more optimistically, as a take-home holiday reminder, and giving in to pester-power. They rarely last more than a day or two. They are a bit like a sophisticated fairy cake that is hard (for my family) to resist. There is more to making them than a simple cupcake as you might expect from us, and so I asked Vanessa to give us a recipe and to describe what techniques are needed – given her experience in France, this should be pretty good.

We’ve been looking for ages for a Madeleine tray that we think is good enough to add to our range and at last, we have. Our new one is made in France as you’d hope and for the professional market.

If you haven’t baked a Madeleine then you missing out on one of the most delightful treats I know. The Madeleine is a light French, somewhat sophisticated small cake originating from northwest France and when baked fresh they are utterly irresistible. I was taught to make Madeleine by an old lady in the village in the southwest of France called Janet. Instead of of using chemical leavening such a baking powder she would beat the eggs to within an inch of their lives and as the air was suspended in the batter through mixing it would give volume to the cake. I cheat and use half a teaspoon of baking powder - it guarantees success. It’s a fairly tricky recipe because this kind of cake batter is known as a Genoise sponge where the only fat in the recipe comes from the egg yolks.

My top tip for a really light Madeleine is to use a really good quality fine flour. Mulino Marino 00 is perfect as it is milled so finely that it will give you a beautiful result. A good quality vanilla extract is essential, because there is nowhere to hide a poor quality essence in such a simple cake mix. The other key to baking the very best Madeleines is to use a really good quality Madeleine tin. A good quality tin will distribute the heat evenly where as a lesser tin can mean both uneven rising and the cake edges catching which makes them dry out. .

The last secret to making perfect Madelines is to warm the eggs. By using warmer eggs the whites and yolks combine more easily when you whisk them. This means that the eggs will disperse more evenly in the batter, which again results in more even cooking and a lighter texture (because it is the eggs that trap air).

To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, soak them in a bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes, but no longer then this as egg shells are porous.

Les Madeleines de Janet

1tbsp butter – to grease the tin with
2 large free-range eggs at room temperature (free-range gives better colour)
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp Ndali vanilla extract
100g Type 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4

Melt a tablespoon of butter. Brush the madeleine tray with melted butter then dust with flour, tapping out any excess.

Warm your bowl in hot water and dry thoroughly. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl until the mixture is fluffy. Lightly whisk in the remaining ingredients. Leave to stand for 20 minutes before spooning the mixture gently into the prepared madeleine tray.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture has risen a little in the middle and is fully cooked through. Transfer the Madeleines to a wire rack and leave for a few minutes to cool.

Don’t forget to take a look at our clearance lines.

Patrick’s Favourite Lammas Fayre Flours:

1. Medieval Peasant flour

2. Rivet Flour

3. Iron Age and Emmer Spelt

Wonderful flour that includes pea and broadbeans.

Authentic blend of Norman rivet wheat, very tasty.

An ancient blend from ancient emmer and spelt, very tasty.