Sunday, February 19, 2012

Madeleines, The Season Finale

Notice anything?

The best part about starting off the blog with a project like this has been the discovery, hands down.  I anticipated making a recipe for Madeleines three times over and not finding much variance in the results.  Not true!  If anything is proving it for me, it's this third recipe.  It's from a very trusted source out there, Joy of Baking (dot com) and one that I have referred to often in my practice kitchen.

Honestly, I don't like their recipe.  gasp!

I chose this one for a couple reasons - it had a specific instruction to sift dry ingredients into the batter and it used three eggs instead of the two the other recipes required.  I thought that these differences must yield a different result, and they did.

This version also incorporates hand-folding the batter as opposed to using an electric mixer, and I knew after working on recipe #2 that I wanted another shot at that.  Really, if for no other reason than to see if I was the cause for the more dense results I got from Julia's recipe. 

I'm going to tell you, I am deeming this third recipe "fussy" and I don't mind fussy when you get a good result.  Unfortunately, Miss Fussy was also disappointing.  Here's the backstory.

The dry team was ready and waiting, and the eggs, sugar,and vanilla were beaten and beribboned exactly as instructed.  The recipe then says to sift "a small amount" of the dry team over this egg mixture.  How much is a small amount?  A tablespoon?  A quarter of a cup?  A third of the dry team?  I don't mean to be picky, but the idea is not to deflate that silky egg mixture. I think they needed to be more specific.  I was hesitant and knew the focus was to keep the batter light, so I decided "small amount" meant about three tablespoons.

With that folded in, and my gut telling me I hadn't burst the bubble, I followed instructions and sifted the whole remainder of the flour over the mixture and folded it in.  Again, this was a case of "doing what I'm told even though I think this is wrong" sort of thing.  It felt like it took a long time to fold in that much flour all at once.  I was delicate and deliberate in my folding, but I could see that I had to keep folding with so many streaks of flour in that batter.  With every cut and turn I kept finding big pockets of flour, and I knew that this batter was being overworked.  I resigned myself to Madeleine Sinkers.

The batter was refrigerated as called for, a good thing from my prior experiences in this project.  When it came time to bake these off, I was pleasantly surprised by how spongy the batter was as I scooped the tablespoons into the prepared pan.

Let me stop one second and say I decided to get all smarty-pants and play a bit at this point.  The recipe said you could butter and flour the pan to prepare it (been there, done that) or use a baking spray to coat the pan.  I hadn't done that yet in my little study, so I did it on the first batch.  Just to be clever, I did NOT do it on the second batch.  Check it out, guys:

Top: Batch 1, pan sprayed.  Bottom: Batch 2, pan untreated.
The first batch released easily from the pan and had the look of a craggy bath sponge.  Once the first batch was done, I wiped the pan down completely once it cooled and decided to risk it all and just bake them off trusting the nonstick surface to do it's job.  Guess what?  They released beautifully!  The surface was finely textured, even, and lovely.  Bear with me 'till I can tell you about the taste.

As this batter baked off, my Hubby walked by the oven and simply said, "Smells eggy".  This man has a gift for detecting flavors in scents even though he's not big on eating baked goods.  He was correct, for this batch really didn't have the characteristic smell of cooking sugar - that carmamelization- that I remember from the other recipes.  That extra egg and lack of lemon were up to something.

The taste?  Frankly, boring.  Using the baking spray really foiled the crisp exterior for me.  The texture was there but the taste was off-putting.  A bit chemical.  I think you can get away with using sprays in some applications, but for a little handheld cookie-cake, every bite matters, and truly, butter is better.  I learned that my pan could turn out these notorious stickers without a problem if left naked (based on the second batch) but I was really missing that buttery introduction. 

The interior was still a bit dense and dry.  Although with the other recipes you couldn't specifically detect the lemon, I really missed it's subtle magic with this last recipe.  It was missing some sort of lift.  Disappointing.  If these ladies hadn't been baked in that scalloped  pan, I think they'd be left at the wall at the prom if you know what I mean.  A pretty dress only goes so far!

I loved baking three different recipes of the same Madeleine.  I have learned that in something so simple, variations matter a lot in baking.  It pays to try something different ways.  I'm not even tired of Madeleines yet, which is a testament to how much I like them.  Satisfaction meter for this receipe?  Three.  Results not worth the fuss.  Au revoir, Madeleine!

I am admittedly a wee bit glad the project has come to a close.  I have some very exciting things planned for upcoming posts!  My creative juices are spilling over so much that I had to get a notebook to jot down all my ideas.  I've begun window shopping in a new way, from magazines to the aisles of stores. 

I cannot wait to move on!  Stay with me, everyone!  I'm taking it up a notch to a more creative and tempting level!


  1. Very interesting! I like the approach you took with the different recipes. So, out of the three recipes, did you have a favorite that you'll stick with, or are you still looking?

    1. I was most impressed with the first recipe for ease and results! It's going into my recipe box, for certain! Thanks for the comment!


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