French Madeleines are the perfect little shell-shaped cakes. With browned butter and vanilla beans as the predominant flavour, these French delicacies are refined yet simple to make. They are perfection!
Brown the butter. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt your butter. Continue to heat until the butter foams up and the melted butter below turns golden and then to a golden brown colour and has a nutty fragrance. This takes about 4-5 minutes. Note, that the butter turns very quickly from golden to burnt. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, and cool to room temperature. Set aside 1 teaspoon worth of butter, this will be used to brush the pans with later on.
Whip the eggs and sugar. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, place the eggs and sugar and beat on medium for 5 minutes until pale and thick. Add the flavouring. Decrease the speed to low and add the milk and vanilla bean paste and mix until combined.
Sift dry ingredients into the batter. Sift into the bowl the flour, baking powder and salt and mix on low until a few flour streaks remain.
Pour in the melted butter. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and slowly pour in the melted butter. Make sure to scrape in all the brown bits that will have settled at the bottom of the butter bowl. Gently fold in the butter with the rubber spatula ensuring that you don't knock out all the air.Refrigerate Batter. Cover the batter with cling film and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or ideally overnight.
Prepare the Madeleine pans. Using the brown butter that you set aside earlier, melt in the microwave if it has solidified. Grease all the molds of your Madeleine pans with a pastry brush. Lightly dust each mould with flour and tap out any excess. Place the pans in the refrigerator and pre-heat the oven to 200°C (360°F). Fill pans and bake. Once the oven is at temperature, remove the batter from the fridge and one Madeleine pan. Fill the deepest part of each well with 1 level tablespoon of batter. Do not level the batter out. Remove the other pan from the fridge and fill it in the same way. Place the Madeleine pans in the oven, immediately turn down the oven to 180°C (350°F) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Check after 6 minutes and rotate the pans. They are ready when the ‘humps’ have risen, and they‘re browned on the edges.
Serve. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before removing them from the pans onto a serving plate. (Tip: give the pans a little jiggle, and they should pop out. If they stick, run a knife around the edges to loosen them.)Dust the Madeleine lightly with powdered icing sugar and serve immediately whilst still warm.
Step-by-Step Photos: My blog post includes helpful step-by-step photos to help guide you through making this recipe.How to store: They are best served fresh on the same day as baking. However, store in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days. To freeze: Allow the Madeleines to come to room temperature, wrap in baking paper and store in an airtight container. Freeze for up to one month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before glazing and serving. TIP 1: Weigh your flour. Use digital scales for an accurate measurement. Too much flour will lead to a dry sponge.TIP 2:Whip eggs for long enough. They need to aerate to help create a light and tender crumb. TIP 3: Slowly pour in the melted butter. Adding in the melted butter too quickly into the whipped eggs will cause them to deflate.TIP 4: Refrigerate the madeleines pan. Doing this helps the madeleines rise in the oven.TIP 5: Don’t overbake the sponge. If you do, you’ll end up with dry little rocks!