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Friday 15 March 2013


Just recently, while smoking shisha in St. Germain, I reached a decision.

(Before we go any futher, let us just take a moment to be seduced by the alluringly alliterative nature of that statement. Truly, it puts me in the mood to go and order rillettes de veau in Rio De Janeiro, nibble daintily on a bowl of pilaf in Poznan and sip velveteen Merlot in Marlow.)

I wanted to make something French. Not croissants, because I value my sanity. But something exotically unfamiliar and crowd pleasing to hand round with tea after the coq au vin I was planning.

My ability to make any firm plans being weakened by the heavy scent of apple scented molasses tobacco, the idea lay dormant until I reached my kitchen at home some days later, tired, grouchy and wearing an airline uniform that had taken on the aroma of the passenger cabin of a Boeing 777-300ER.

Ultimately, it came down to the fact that I hadn't used my madeleine tray in years. And let's be realistic, it was never going to be croissants, not least because you don't eat them after coq au vin.

(As if that were the only reason.)

I am 80% pleased with how they turned out. Moist, and good flavour, but I want the hump that you get on a commercially produced madeleine. The hump, but none of the oily synthetic taste. I'm thinking I might try adding baking powder, but a friend tells me I just need to bake the batter in those little scalloped boat tins rather than a flat tray. Will I justify the expense? We shall see.


You will need:

30g melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
75g egg yolks (5 medium)
60g caster sugar
45g plain flour
1 tbsp water

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. The madeleines will be in there for  a scant 5 minutes, so make sure it's at temperature as you don't want to leave the batter hanging around.
  2. Put the vanilla, sugar and yolks into a heatproof bowl suspended over simmering water. Whisk gently until the yolks are warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and beat on high speed with an electric mixer until thick and creamy. This will take 9 or 10 minutes. You will be bored.
  3. Add the water. Whisk in.
  4. Sift over the flour and fold in gently. Next fold in the butter.
  5. Grease your madeleine tin and fill each indentation half way with batter; bake for 5 minutes. Cool on a rack.
  6. Serve dusted with icing sugar. Makes 24 2" madeleines.


  1. Dear Mr. P—

    Our boss has entered your Lamington contest the past couple of years. We have benefited greatly from his experimentations. We asked him when the next contest was, and he said he hadn't heard anything and thought you might not be doing it anymore. We humbly plead with you to hold another contest. Sweet treats help us perform our jobs much better.

    We thank you for your consideration.

    Best regards,
    Employees with Ulterior Motives

  2. Hmm. Who might your boss be? Maybe I'll do it again at some point, things just got a little crazy this year. The coconut takes forever to clean up!

    Would anybody else want this?

  3. I'm making madelines this weekend, but they're going to be Rose ones drizzled with white chocolate. I bought the tin especially so I hope they go well!


That's what he said.

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