Perfect Madeleines Recipe

Madeleines have long eluded me.

I have spent a good portion of my baking life collecting various recipes and giving the promising ones a try every now and then, but my efforts were only ever rewarded with ho-hum results, pale and dense little pucks that stuck to the mold like nobody’s business and flatly refused to form a bump.

Granted, if my temperament as a baker was to latch on to such challenges and tweak and tweak tirelessly until I unlocked the secrets of this or that pastry, I would probably have solved this one some time ago. But the way I deal with baking hurdles is more along the lines of “try, fail, forget about it and move on; try again, fail again, move on again, etc.”

As they baked and I stared in through the oven door, hardly believing my eyes that the centers slowly rose to form the oh-so-elusive bumps, I heard a deep voice echoing through the kitchen, saying, “Your Quest Stops Here.”

This time, the nudge to try again came from my two-year-old, who developed his own brand of madeleine obsession, one that is more centered on the eating of said madeleines. We were going through packs from the organic store at a rapid clip, and at 3.50€ ($4.80) for ten, I thought I might as well bake them myself.

I decided to put my fate in the hands of Fabrice Le Bourdat, owner and pastry chef of Paris pâtisserie Blé Sucré, using the recipe for his signature madeleines — plump, golden, fist-sized, and lemon-glazed — as shared on video for the Fooding website*.

It’s a beautifully straightforward recipe that is easily (and best) made by hand — I first made the mistake of using my stand mixer, and let’s just say pouring in hot melted butter while the motor is running is not pretty — and it yields absurdly perfect madeleines: buttercup yellow, softly sticky bumps, lightly crisp edges, and fluffy, moist hearts.

As they baked and I stared in through the oven door, hardly believing my eyes that the centers rose slowly to form the oh-so-elusive bumps, I heard a deep voice echoing through the kitchen, saying, “Your Quest Stops Here.”

Looking at the recipe, I think the key elements that make it so astonishingly successful are these:

  • Refrigerating the batter overnight and preheating the oven to high is what creates the temperature shock that causes the bump to form.
  • Using a piping bag to fill the madeleine molds may sound fussy, but it is in fact immeasurably easier than using a spoon — the batter is pretty sticky — and it ensures the madeleines are neatly formed and evenly sized, which in turn makes them bake evenly.
  • Carefully buttering and refrigerating the madeleine tray, then assertively banging the tray sideways on the counter right out of the oven prevents the madeleines from sticking — they pop right out! — and the moisture from building up on the madeleines’s underbelly as they cool.

A few parting comments and words of advice:

  • Overfilling the molds will get you duck-billed madeleines (see picture below) that your toddler may recognize as such and specifically request (“Madeleine canard !”) but may not meet your own standards of aesthetics.
  • I altered Le Bourdat’s recipe slightly, reducing the amount of sugar (from 300 to 250 grams), adding salt, using a mix of baking soda and baking powder, and adding lemon zest as a classic flavoring. Feel free to omit it, or substitute the zest of another citrus, or vanilla, or orange flower water.
  • You can certainly dream up all kinds of wilder flavorings, but I encourage you to try these simple flavorings first, to experience the beauty of the plain madeleine. You can always eat them with alternating bites of dark chocolate.
  • The madeleines sold at Blé Sucré are topped with a lemon glaze, which is quite lovely, but messier for little hands to deal with. Up to you.
  • Watch your madeleines closely as they bake — especially your first batch — to determine the exact baking time that works for your own oven’s idiosyncrasies. Since madeleines are small, it can be a minute between perfect and overbaked.

Join the conversation!

Have you had success baking madeleines in the past? Or is this the nudge you needed to give it a go? Are you an advocate of plain madeleines, or are you just dying to add in chocolate chips and blueberries and bacon bits?

* Here’s my own grainy video baking my chocolate and zucchini cake for that same website.

Duck-billed madeleine: this is what happens when you overfill the molds.

Duck-billed madeleine: this is what happens when you overfill the molds.

Perfect Madeleines Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 12 hours, 30 minutes

Makes 48 madeleines.

Serving Size: 1 madeleine

Calories per serving: 117

Fat per serving: 8 grams

Perfect Madeleines Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 250 grams (1 1/4 cups) unrefined blond cane sugar
  • Zest of one organic lemon, finely grated
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 375 grams (13 1/4 ounces, about 2 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 400 grams (1 3/4 cups) melted unsalted butter, hot, plus more for brushing

Instructions

  1. Prepare the batter the day before. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar and lemon zest, then whisk in the milk.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir with a clean whisk to remove any lump. Sprinkle the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, whisking all the while.
  3. Whisk in the melted butter, cover, and refrigerate until the next day. The batter will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to three days.
  4. Two hours before baking, brush a madeleine tray (preferably tin) with melted butter, making sure no excess butter pools in the ridges. Sprinkle the mold thoroughly with flour, then tap upside down over the sink to remove excess flour. (After my first batch, I forgot to flour the mold and merely buttered it, which turned out to be enough to prevent sticking.) Place the tray in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  5. Madeleine mold
  6. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F).
  7. Pour some of the batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. (To make this step easier, you can place the piping bag in a tall measuring jug and fold the sides over and out to keep it open.)
  8. Piping bag
  9. Pipe the batter into the prepared madeleine tray, filling each mold to three quarters. Bang the tray once on a cutting board (or your counter if it's sturdy) to remove any air bubble.
  10. Madeleine batter in mold
  11. Insert into the oven, lower the heat to 180°C (360°F), and bake for 12 minutes, until the sides of the madeleines are golden brown and the domes buttercup yellow.
  12. Remove from the oven and unmold immediately: holding the tray with both hands, tilt it forward so the madeleines face away from you, and bang the side of the tray on your cutting board or counter so the madeleines will pop out. Depending on how well-seasoned your tray is, it may take one to three bangs to pop them all out.
  13. Transfer to a rack to cool. The madeleines freeze well in an airtight container.

Notes

Adapted from a recipe by Fabrice Le Bourdat, pastry chef and owner of Blé Sucré, as seen on Le Fooding.

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Perfect Madeleines

  • http://www.chicagotofrance.blogspot.com/ Hata Trbonja

    YES!!!
    Thanks you for this recipe!
    Weirdly, last night I had a dream that there was a fire and I grabbed a madeleine pan as my one thing I could save.
    How strange is that?
    Maybe tonight I will bake these in my dream.
    Love,
    Hata
    http://www.chicagotofrance.com

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      A premonition, I love that! And a strong sign that you need more madeleines in your life right now.

  • http://www.cookingwithtoddlers.org Cooking With Toddlers

    This is going to save us so much money since we buy far too many Madeleine’s ourselves. By far, our most loved treat. Thank you!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      I’m so glad — I hope you enjoy these!

  • http://www.EricaDHouse.com/ Erica House

    I’ve never even heard of these before! They look divine!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Oftentimes people know about the madeleine from Marcel Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time, in which a simple bite of the little cake brings back a vivid memory from his childhood. You can read the excerpt in question here.

  • dr_bombay

    i’ve never had the nerve to try them. they are notoriously fussy, and i also don’t have the proper pans… yet…. that being said, your post gives me confidence!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      It’s true you need the special pan, but once you have that you can use it to make savory madeleines as well (I have a recipe in my first book, but any quick bread or savory muffin recipe would work) and they are always well received.

      • dr_bombay

        SAVORY ones?? you just blew my mind. i confess i have never even looked at that recipe because i know didn’t have the right pans for it. well then… i may need to go shopping soon. thanks, clotilde! : )

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

          And in the meantime, just between you and me, no law forbids the baking of madeleine batter in muffin tins…

          • dr_bombay

            **gasps**

  • http://peoniesandorangeblossoms.blogspot.com/ Angelina

    Madeleines are my next French cookie to tackle… Thanks for sharig some tips and tricks!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Do report back if you give them a try!

  • Lemon Tart

    I think I read the resting time causes the bump. I made some for my sister without baking powder since she has an aversion to it. To get over being intimidated I kept telling myself it is only 3 eggs if it does not work out. I would eat madeleines either way. Such a delicious cookie.

    Madonna
    MakeMineLemon

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      More precisely, the resting time *in the fridge* is what causes the bump by creating the conditions of the temperature shock I mentioned above. If you were to let the batter rest at room temperature, it wouldn’t work. I tried a recipe once without baking powder and it was an epic fail for me. :)

  • Emilye Lin

    Most recipes for madeleines that I have come across instruct beating eggs with sugar until pale, thick and light/triple in volume — do you know whether that makes a difference to the texture? It would be great not to have to use a mixer just to bake some madeleines; in your recipe the eggs and sugar are simply whisked together — do I need to beat them thoroughly? Or will simply whisking to combine be sufficient? Thank you!!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      If you watch the video, you’ll see that he doesn’t whisk the eggs and sugar for that long. I think they need to be whisked thoroughly, but not necessarily until tripled in volume — that wouldn’t hurt, but it doesn’t seem necessary to get good results here.

  • NotJoking

    I used to have a madeline tray but over 3 or 4 moves it’s gone missing. Hard to find in this part of the UK, but will try some of the upmarket department stores.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Good luck on your hunt! In a pinch, a muffin mold will do. :)

    • http://www.france-travel-info.com Debbie Cochener
      • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

        Thanks Debbie! I recommend tin molds rather than nonstick or silicone, as they conduct the heat much better and create a better texture underneath the madeleines.

        • http://www.france-travel-info.com Debbie Cochener

          Thanks! I had no idea. I don’t care for silicone and generally will gravitate to the non-stick if given the choice. Does this hold true for most non-stick baking trays; ie should I avoid them? :)

          • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

            In general, i recommend staying away from nonstick coatings, which don’t age well, don’t conduct heat evenly, and are debatable from a health perspective. Don’t toss those you do have (unless they’re scratched) but look into “natural” metals for future purchases.

      • NotJoking

        Thanks Debbie, I hadn’t thought of Amazon. J

  • Madonna Ganier-Yancey

    Madeleines have eluded me, too. I’m going to try your recipe. Wish me luck.
    I just read your article in the new issue of France magazine. I’ve made note of the restaurants you mentioned and hope to try one or two when my husband and I visit Paris in October.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      I hope you enjoy them, Madonna, do report back if you get a chance!

  • http://www.seriouslyspain.com/ Seriously Spain

    I made these for the first time a couple of months ago, and yes they’re incredibly difficult to get right, as my four other attempts recently prove. I did finally end up with a batch I was happy with, but I still think yours look better than mine :)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      They are indeed very fickle. Let me know if you get a chance to try this recipe!

  • rachelsloan79

    I’ve had pretty good results with a recipe in a book called ‘La Cuisine française’ (written by two Brits!) that I bought in France 12 years ago that’s fairly similar to Le Bordat’s except that it doesn’t call for milk. I must admit I don’t use a tin mould or a piping bag, but I’m always careful to chill the batter and my silicone mould and they always turn out well.

    I tend to prefer plain (well, lemon) madeleines – why mess with success? – although I once made buckwheat flour and honey madeleines from a recipe in Elle à Table and absolutely loved them, and also enjoyed the cranberry and hazelnut ones I had at Café Pinson a few months ago (to the point that I now wish I’d had the nerve to ask them for the recipe).

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Those sound like lovely variations, Rachel. A touch of buckwheat flour and honey substituted for a small portion of the wheat flour and sugar in this recipe should be quite lovely. I’ll give that a try!

  • Bakeawaywithme.com

    Madeleines are one of my favorite little cakes. I bake them often, achieving a very small hump. I am anxious to give this recipe a try. Yours look beautiful! I always chill the buttered pans, and the batter. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Please report back if you try the recipe! I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts.

  • Magilicuddy

    I made madeleines for the first time after reading about them, I’d never actually seen (or eaten!) one. When they all developed small bumps during baking, I thought I’d done something wrong, and wondered how to make them smooth the next time. Later on, I found out that those bumps were actually desirable. Who knew? Now, after seeing your beautiful madeleines, I will never worry about bumps again. As soon as the weather cools enough to make it safe to turn on the oven, I will try your recipe.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Ha ha! Such a lovely story. :)

  • Aisha Belhadi

    The only time I tried making madeleines was a few years back. I was going for an ultra traditional recipe, ie no leavening agent except for egg whites. I followed a recipe I found on David Lebovitz’s blog. And although the madeleines came out of their molds just fine (I was using silicone, yes very untraditional, forgive the paradox), and tasted good, they felt more meringue-like than pillowy madeleine-like. I hate working with whipped egg whites and I’m sure I messed up somewhere, plus the batter was not easy to work with and I spooned the stuff into the molds instead of piping it. But I thought it wasn’t worth the effort for something that should be a simple childhood snack. I reverted to the much-loved and very forgiving gâteau au yaourt. Yours look so lovely that I might forgo tradition and test out the recipe, if only to give my 1-year-old daughter a taste of the country she was born in but won’t grow up in!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      I was the same as you initially, determined to go the traditional, no-baking powder route, but the batter in the recipe I used was so stiff it was impossible to fold in the beaten eggwhites without deflating them, so of course I ended up with flat little pucks.

  • Petra Durnin

    It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who ended up with pucks! Can’t wait to try these.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      I hope you have good success with them, Petra!

  • http://bewitchingkitchen.com SallyBR

    Would you believe I am the owner of a madeleine silicone pan that has never been used? now, I won’t divulge for how long I’ve had it, no matter how insistently you beg me to ;-) Shame on me. i suspect your post will finally made me stop being a wimp and go for it… Love madeleines, particularly hot from the oven, served in a great restaurant in Paris……….. ah, sweet memories!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      I certainly won’t be the one to cast the first stone. :) And I agree fresh-from-the-oven is absolutely lovely, though in truth I like them best after a few hours.

  • Shivangni

    Heard / saw them in a Hollywood movie “transporter”, never thought they’d be so easy to bake. Will definitely try them. I took to cooking only because my kids are fond of eating special treats, before they came into my life, I thought cooking / eating was a waste of time! maybe because my mother was an accomplished cook and I would see her slaving in the kitchen for hours and us gobling up the food in minutes. Now, being a mother I know what made her do it. Anyway will try them delight my girls. thanks

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      I hope your daughters enjoy these!

  • http://www.rosehipsandrhubarb.com Rosehips and Rhubarb

    I have often wanted to make madeleines but the thought of buying a special pan for something that may not turn out discouraged me. However, seeing your recipe made me think I might give them a go. Your tip about using a piping bag makes a lot of sense.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      The piping bag trick is one of those things where you think, “Should I really go to that much trouble?” and the answer is a resounding “Yes!”. :)

  • TomHilton

    My sweetheart makes wonderful madeleines, but I think she uses cake flour (finer grain) rather than all-purpose. She may also sift the flour.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      I”d be interested to do a side-by-side comparison to see how the cake flour performs here. I admit I have few occasions to use it so I seldom have it on hand when the madeleine urge strikes. :)

  • Janet

    Thank-you for this recipe. I made the recipe as written and the madeleines are truly perfect. I thought I made pretty good ones already, but this is the best recipe I’ve used. I also appreciate that you reduced the sugar slightly. I thought the balance of lemon and sweetness was just right. My humps were proud and perfect!
    I’ve also had great success with another recipe from Fabrice Le Bourdat of Blé
    Sucre; the financiers, which David Lebovitz published in his latest book. This has also become my favourite financier recipe.

    Fabrice is a generous pastry chef – obviously he has not held back any secrets with these two recipes. Thanks again Clotilde!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      I’m so glad, Janet, thank you! And yes, I agree, it is so commendable that Le Bourdat shares his recipes so transparently, especially since his madeleines are a real signature item at the bakery. I guess he weighed the benefits (good karma and good publicity) against the drawbacks (copycat competitors) and decided the former were more important. It’s not a very French mindset, so I appreciate it all the more.

  • http://www.RokcoRecipes.com/ Rok Jurca (ROKCO)

    Every time I see this recipe it brings back so many warm memories. I really
    need to make them some day in the near future, for old times sake.

  • Kathy

    Thank you for the recipe. I’m trying it right now and I just got the
    batter, which I made to your exact instructions, out of the fridge.
    It’s so thick that I can hardly stir it. Should the batter sit out for a
    while before putting it in to the pastry bag? The recipe doesn’t
    mention anything about this. And the image of your batter in the pan
    looks pretty liquidy. Mine looks like marzipan or something. Does it
    matter that I used cultured butter? Thanks.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Thanks for writing in. The batter should go straight from the fridge to the pastry bag to the molds, so it’s as chilled as possible. It should be pretty thick, but not like marzipan.

      I don’t think cultured vs. uncultured butter matters, but it may be a flour measurement problem. Did you use the weight measurement or measure by volume? Also, were your eggs large?

  • Kathy

    Also, do you put the buttered tin into the fridge for two hours for each set of madeleines? You just mention doing that once, so I wanted to check. Thanks!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      For best results, you would do that before each batch goes into the oven. If that’s not practical because you want to do them one after the other, then just clean the pan, butter it again, and pop it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to cool as much as possible.

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