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These delicate french cakes are actually a piece of cake to make. This French madeleine recipe is made with just 6 ingredients in one bowl and impress the pants off your friends in no time.
Awww, Paris. Did the name alone just send you off daydreaming of eating in bistros, licking your fingers after devouring a pain au chocolat, or maybe a macaron or two? But the one french treat you should be day dreaming about is a madeleine.
Because you can make that day dream a reality pretty easily in the next hour. No pastry chef degree required.
These cookies or little cakes are buttery and light and perfect for dunking in a cup of tea or coffee. Perfect little afternoon treat, don’t you think?
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Only 6 ingredients. Yes only six!! And they are all very common ingredients.
- No mixers needed. I love when a recipe doesn’t require any fancy equipment. Just need a bowl and something to stir with!
- One bowl. And yes just one mixing bowl! Woo hoo for less dishes!!
Ok so before we talk about how to make these delicate little puppies, let’s cover some stuff first.
What is a French Madeleine?
Maybe you thought madeleine was just some girl’s name. Well ok you’re half right. But it’s also the name of a delicate buttery french cake (or a cookie as some think of them) that is baked in a special madeleine mold pan.
They have a light spongy interior and a slightly crispy buttery exterior. Um, perfection if you ask me.
The cakes (cookies?) end up having a scalloped edge and a slight hump in the middle.
Madeleines are usually made one of two ways. One way is similar to making a classic sponge cake or genoise. The other way (the one I am going to show you) uses melted butter and results in a bit of a denser cookie but much easier to make. So my personal fav.
- Granulated Sugar
- Baking Powder
- Lemon Zest
- Egg whites
How To Make French Madeleines
Now like I said, this is just one way. Dare I say the best? Because it’s the easiest?
Now because these contain baking powder, technically I guess they aren’t a traditional madeleine. However, the baking powder will ensure they rise and they turn out beautifully. I mean in the end it’s cookies right? And cookies should get from bowl to belly as quickly as possible. I know you feel the same way.
Step One: Prepare Your Pans
To start making these madeleines the first you need to do is to get your pans ready.
If you are using a silicone baking mold or a non-stick mold (which is what I used): Then be sure to brush the molds with softened butter. This will give the cookies a bit of crispy exterior, which I totally love. And help to not stick even further.
If you are not using a non-stick mold: Then brush with softened butter first then dust with flour. Then tap out the excess flour. If you see any “bald spots” then dust with flour again. Madeleines can have a tendency to stick with these kinds of molds, so be sure they are completely covered.
Step Two: Sift Your Ingredients
In your bowl you want to sift your dry ingredients- sugar, properly measured flour, and baking powder.
Step Three: Add Lemon Zest
Then add in your lemon zest. The original recipe called for orange zest, which you could use. Even lime zest. Or all three. Why not! Go nuts!
Note: The recipe called for sifting the zest as well, but if you have a zester that is too fine it may not all go through. That’s fine just stir in the rest that didn’t sift through.
Step Four: Add your Egg Whites
To your sifted ingredients you want to add in your egg whites and stir it all together.
HEATHER’S BAKING TIP: Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature. And make sure there are no egg yolks present. For help on separate your eggs cleanly, read how to separate eggs (6 ways!).
Step Five: Add your melted butter
And then your melted butter (be sure it’s not still hot!). And that’s it. Stir it all together and you’re good to go.
Step Six: Pipe Your Madeleines
Now time to pipe them into your buttered pans.
Pro Tip: Place your piping bag over a tall drinking glass and then go ahead and spoon the mixture into the bag.
Once your piping bag is ready to go, then go ahead and fill your pans. You want to leave a little bit of room at the top of each mold for them to expand in the oven. Just simply squeeze the batter back and forth and fill each mold.
If you have extra batter, you can just place it in your fridge between batches. (The second batch had a bit of a bigger hump, but they still came out great!)
Step Seven: Bake!
These cookies take about 8-10 minutes in the oven on the middle rack. They will have a slight hump in the middle of the cookie, which is classic of these madeleines and brown crispy edges.
You want to make dust these with some confectioner’s sugar and pop them out of the pans. Be sure to allow them to cool on a cooling rack.
- You need a French madeleine mold in order to make these. I have more tips below on how to prepare the pans depending on which kind you have (non stick or silicone).
- Make sure your eggs are at room temperature before cracking. This will ensure the mixture comes together and all is incorporated evenly. I place mine in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes prior to using.
- To seperate your eggs, do so in two small bowls first. Add each egg white to the mixing bowl, before cracking your next one. That way if you do get egg yolk in one, you won’t have ruined your whole batch.
- For cracking with no shells, crack on a flat surface not on the edge of the bowl.
For a fun option you could even fill these with some lemon curd when you are done. Just fill a piping bag with some lemon curd, and poke the tip into the bottom of the cookie and squeeze a small amount in until you see it come out the hole.
These cookies will stay crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle for about 2-3 days. Just be sure to place them in an airtight container after they have completely cooled. They will still be quite delicious after a few days but lose some of their crispness. But I mean do you really expect them to last that long?
Yes, unfortunately to bake madeleines and get that special scalloped edges and shape you do need a madeleine pan.
These are best stored at room temperature, covered, for up to 3 days.
Yes you can. Be sure to allow them to cool completely. Do not dust with powdered sugar. Freeze by placing in a sealable plastic bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature, uncovered, before serving and dust with powdered sugar.
More Recipes To Try
Classic French Madeleines
- 3/4 cup (148 g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (90 g) all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 4 large egg whites room temperature
- 1/2 cup (113 g, 8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter melted
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare your pans by brushing with softened butter. If you are using mold that is not non-stick then also dust with flour.
- In a bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, and baking powder. Stir in your lemon zest.
- Stir in the egg whites until smooth.
- Stir in the butter until smooth.
- Fill a piping bag with your batter, and pipe into the your prepared pans. Be sure to leave a little room at the top for the cookies to expand in the oven. If you have leftover batter, you can just store in the refrigerator.
- Bake for about 8-10 minutes until slightly browned around the edges, and the cakes spring back to the touch.
- Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with confectioners sugar, then pop out of the molds and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
- Adapted from James Peterson
- If you are using a silicone baking mold or a non-stick mold (which is what I used): Then be sure to brush the molds with softened butter. This will give the cookies a bit of crispy exterior, which I totally love. And help to not stick even further.
- If you are not using a non-stick mold: Then brush with softened butter first then dust with flour. Then tap out the excess flour. If you see any “bald spots” then dust with flour again. Madeleines can have a tendency to stick with these kinds of molds, so be sure they are completely covered.
- Storage: These cookies will stay crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle for about 3 days. Just be sure to place them in an airtight container after they have completely cooled. They will still be quite delicious after a few days but lose some of their crispness.
- Freezing: Cool completely. Do not dust with powdered sugar. Place in a sealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature, out of the bag, and dust with powdered sugar before serving.