Paula Wolfert's Madeleines from Dax
You always hear about how there are madeleines everywhere in Paris. But you know what? There are really madeleines everywhere in New York City. At your local bistro, under a glass-topped cake stand ready for the impulse buy at the register, and especially at one of my favorites, Madeleine Patisserie in Chelsea. Filled with macarons and madeleines, you might wonder if it's even worth attempting to bake them up yourself. So far, my answer would have to be, well...kind of.
First of all, the recipe is Paula Wolfert's and she warns that they're not the madeleines of Proust meant for dunking, not quite the madeleines you might be used to, and definitely not quite the madeleines of my favorite NYC patisserie. But I've never had a madeleine flavored with orange blossom water, and for that I will forever thank Paula Wolfert.
Lately, as I've been cycling around Central Park in the middle of the day to avoid the influx of (I hate to say it) kind of clueless tourists who tend to la-de-da out into the middle of the road while gazing up into the sky on the weekends, I've noticed that at the bottom of the loop, on the east side, the blossoms literally smell like candy. Literally. And making these madeleines, with their shot of orange blossom water, is like bringing spring time right into your tiny 6 floor apartment. My true mistake with this undertaking was relying on a rental oven which is For Sure not properly calibrated. So I burned the first batch, and you can see that my second batch also spent a little too much time baking. I'll give you the printed bake time with that warning, on the assumption that your oven is more precise than mine.
Madeleines from Dax
Adopted from Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of South-West France
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
7 tablespoons superfine sugar*
1 1/2 teaspoons orange flower water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus 5 1/2 tablespoons cake flour, combined and sifted twice
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoons clarified butter, melted and cooled**
1 tablespoons heavy cream
butter for the molds
Okay, first a couple of notes on ingredients:
* You can sometimes find superfine sugar in the grocery store if you have a good one. Otherwise, you can make it yourself by wizzing some normal white sugar in a food processor for about 30 seconds. I used 1/4 cup of sugar, and easily got 7 tablespoons of superfine out of it.
** For clarified butter: heat some water in the bottom of a double boiler until hot, but not boiling. In the top of the double boiler, place a stick of butter and allow it to melt slowly over the hot (but not boiling!) water. It should take about 15 minutes. Once melted, the milk solids will fall to the bottom, and you can pour/spoon off the liquid, which is the clarified butter. One stick will make a little more than you need, but it will store for 3 months in the fridge, where it will become solid again. Just reheat a little to use.
Okay, on with the recipe, which must be complete over the course of two days:
Combine the eggs, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until it's light and thickened a bit. I just did this with a whisk as Wolfert recommends. Then beat in the orange flower water and vanilla until combined.
Sift the flours along with the baking powder twice, then gradually stir the flours into the egg mixture. Beat only until combined. Add the butter and cream and stir them in gently until the mixture is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day:
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Coat your madeleine pan with a little melted butter and fill each mold about 3/4 the way full with batter. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to settle the batter into the molds. Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to 325 and bake for 7-10 minutes longer. I had to decrease the bake time by to 5 minutes at 325, and even then they were a bit overdone. They should be golden and just turning brown around the edges.
Remove from the oven and turn out onto a cooling wrack. Serve warm the same day.