Easy Browned Butter Madeleines
Madeleines are one of my favourite snacks. They are so light and there's nothing super fancy about them, making them the perfect pair for a late afternoon cup of tea or coffee. Madeleines are a traditional small cake that is baked in a shell-shaped pan. These small cakes have an identifiable hump in their centre, caused by the significant temperature difference between the batter and the oven. The difference in temperature causes the outside of the cakes to cook first, which forces the uncooked centre up instead of to the sides. Though they sound intimidating, Madeleines are super simple and easy to make - this is my go-to recipe for madeleines.
Eggs form the base of madeleines. Ensuring that the eggs are at room temperature will allow you to whip the eggs to become voluminous and light. Room temperature eggs will also ensure that your warm butter does not solidify when it hits the batter. While sugar is a normal ingredient in almost any baked good, sugar does play a crucial role in madeleines. In this case, fine caster sugar would be preferred, which allows you to create more fine air bubbles while whipping the eggs, which gives you a consistent texture. This recipe uses a mix of all-purpose flour and toasted ground almonds. While the ground almonds are optional and can be replaced with an equal amount of ground almonds, they give it a nice flavour and texture that you can't get from wheat flour. Double-acting baking powder is the second reason why these madeleines get such a high rise in the middle. Double-acting means that the baking powder will react twice, producing carbon dioxide twice. The first time is exposed to liquid in the batter, and the second time is the oven's heat. This is crucial as the batter does rest in the fridge for an hour, so by that time, the baking powder still has a second use out of it where baking soda would be completely spent by then. The lemon zest to the madeleines adds a much-needed freshness and accents the ground almonds. You can replace a lemon with vanilla extract if you can't get a lemon to zest.
You'll start by toasting the ground almonds on a small baking sheet until they are golden brown and fragrant. While this is roasting, you can make the browned butter. Learn how to make browned butter over at The Kitchn. Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow this to melt slowly. Once the butter is melted, keep the heat on, and allow this to continue cooking. The milk solids will flow to the bottom and start to turn brown. In this process, the butter will sputter as the water evaporates. Once the milk solids are brown, and the butter is fragrant with roasted nuts, pour the butter into a bowl and set aside. Reserve 75 grams of butter. Brush some of the melted butter onto a madeleine pan. Madeleine pans are traditionally made from aluminium, which makes them super sticky. I use non-traditional non-stick pans, though even those stick a lot - so make sure to butter your pans well! Dust some flour over top of the brushed on butter and shake off the excess. Place the greased and floured pan in the freezer. Placing it in the freezer allows for the pan to become really cold which helps counteract the heat of the oven, allowing the madeleines to get a hump at the top. Preparing the batter is very easy. Just combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk until this becomes light and frothy. Then, add the remaining ingredients, including the reserved 75 of browned butter. Whisk until combined, be sure to not overmix! Cover this with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for one hour. Preheat the oven, and take the batter out of the fridge. Transfer half of the batter to a pastry bag and snip off the end. Take the pan out of the freezer and start to pipe the batter into the madeleine moulds. Pipe the batter to fill three-quarters of the mould. When the oven is preheated, place the pan on the middle rack. Bake for 3 minutes, and then lower the oven temperature. This allows the outside to set, preventing the raw batter from going sideways, only upwards, which helps create the signature hump of the madeleine. After 5 to 8 more minutes, take the pan out of the oven and allow it to cool slightly before unmoulding the madeleines. If necessary, continue the process until all the batter has been used. Allow the madeleines to cool before enjoying them with some tea or espresso!
Browned Butter Madeleines
Madeleines are so light and there's nothing super fancy about them, making them the perfect pair for a late afternoon cup of tea or coffee. Madeleines are a traditional small cake that is baked in a shell-shaped pan. These small cakes have an identifiable hump in their centre, caused by the significant temperature difference between the batter and the oven.
2 large eggs
100 g granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
100 g unsalted butter
75 g all-purpose flour (sifted)
25 g ground almonds (sifted)
1 tsp baking powder (sifted)
1 lemon (zested)
In an oven heated to 325°F/162°C, roast the ground almonds in a baking sheet until golden brown and fragrant. Allow to cool.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Keep the butter on the heat until the milk solids turn golden brown. The process will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes, and the butter may sputter. When it is ready, it will smell like roasted nuts.
Reserve 75 grams of the butter. Using a pastry brush, brush the melted butter on the madeleine pan. Ensure that there are no spots that are untouched! Dust the pan with flour and set it in the freezer. Reserve the remaining butter to brush on the pan for the next batch.
In a bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Use a whisk to mix them together vigorously until frothy.
Add the remaining ingredients as well as the reserved 75 g of browned butter, and mix until just combined. Set aside in the fridge for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C for convection ovens.
Transfer the madeleine batter to a pastry bag and cut off the top of the bag.
Using the pastry bag, pipe the batter into the wells of the greased and floured madeleine pan. The batter should fill 3/4 of the well.
Place the pan in the middle of the preheated oven. After 3 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F/175°C. Bake for an additional 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool before unmolding the madeleines.
Repeat steps 7 and 8 until all the batter is used up, ensuring to grease and flour the madeleine pan between uses.
Unmolding the madeleines from the madeleine pan is the most painful part of the process. Making sure that you grease the pan well will help you unmold the madeleines.