For Christmas this year, Paul’s grandparents gave me a book called La Cuisine Authentique de nos Grand-mères (translation: The Authentic Cooking of our Grandmothers). It is easily one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. I am currently working my way through all 400 butcher-paper pages, albeit slowly; there is only so much français a girl can read at a time, even when it pertains to la cuisine.
The book is full of the kind of French home cooking that made me fall in love with spending time in the kitchen in the first place. Best-quality ingredients are emphasized, and the recipes encourage slowing down for a minute. You simply cannot flambée les bananes au rhum with your mind on other things. (Well, I suppose you could, but in that I case I suggest you keep a fire extinguisher on hand.)
I will admit that calculating gram to cup conversions all over the place can be a bit annoying. True, some of the recipes are a bit persnickety, and there is not a very high premium placed on “One Pot Wonders”. Still, there is something really satisfying about these terroir-focused recipes. These are recipes with history, recipes you can count on.
Plus, each comes with an accord mets et vins or two, and what is bad about that? Nothing.
The madeleines in this book are not the same madeleines you’ll find at Starbucks. They aren’t cakey. They are airy and spongy and delicate. I had to adapt them quite a bit to work in an American kitchen, but the effort was worth it. My recipe also deviates from the original with the addition of grapefruit zest, almond extract and sliced almonds, which add extra depth and texture.
Makes 35 madeleines
- zest of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 grapefruit
- 2/3 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cups flour, sifted
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1.5 sticks salted butter, plus more to grease the pan
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Grease the madeleine tins with butter. Dust them with flour, and then shake off any excess. (Be generous with the butter; you will be thankful when removing the madeleines from the pan.)
3. Zest the lemon and grapefruit into a small bowl. Mix in the sugar until completely incorporated.
4. In a separate medium bowl, mix the sifted flour with the baking powder.
5. In a separate large bowl, crack the eggs and beat them. Add the zest/sugar to the eggs and whip until the mixture is foamy, at least a few minutes. (I used the whisk attachment of an electric mixer on medium speed.)
6. Add the almond extract, and then mix in the flour/baking powder little by little, until incorporated.
7. In another small bowl, melt the butter, then add it to the batter and mix it in.
8. Pour the mixture into the tin, stopping when each cup is filled ¾ of the way to the top. Sprinkle the sliced almonds over a small portion of each madeleine.
9. Bake the madeleines for 10 minutes. When they come out of the oven, remove them from the tin immediately and allow them to cool on a wire wrack. (I found it was easiest to gently peel each madeleine from the tin with a spoon, across the long side of the madeleine.)