Disecting the madeleine

Joined Jan 5, 2001
I've been experimenting with so many different recipes and techniques, that I can barely remember what they are supposed to taste like anymore!

I think this could be an interesting discussion because it reviews some basic pastry techniques. Lord knows, I'm no pastry chef!

I would like to get comments and opinions on the following:
  1. Leavener: baking powder? yeast? or nothing?
  2. Describe the texture: small air pockets and spongy? Really moist? Larger air pockets?
  3. Should the sugar and eggs be whipped to a ribbon? Some recipes call for minimal whisking. What's the rationale?
  4. Conservation: how to keep the edges crisp and the centre soft?
  5. Can these be prepped in advance?
  6. What is the best temperature to use? I've seen everything from 320F to 425 F
  7. All-purpose flour? Or cake and pastry flour?
So far, out of all the tests I've done, I prefer the recipes that use no leavener or yeast only. I find the texture is better. With baking powder, it feels like putting a lemony sponge in your mouth. Very dry.

The yeast recipe calls for high temp baking: 425 for 5 min, then 400 for another 5. My oven is a bit screwy, but it really was too hot and my madeleines were too dark.

As for conservation, baking powder madeleines do not conserve at all. Yeast ones fare a bit better, but don't stay crispy.

What are your experiences?
Joined Dec 23, 2003
I am certainly no expert in this area, but I've always thought of Madeleines as lemon flavored pound cake. So, a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of flour, a pound of eggs and a pound of lemon zest :) Just kidding, lemon zest to taste.

And something I do know a little more about - cake flour. Unless you are making a cake that absolutely positively has to be pure white, stay away from cake flour. Smell a bag of pastry flour next to a bag of cake flour. Taste both of them. Both are milled from the same soft wheat, but what a world of difference in flavor.
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