Best Madeleine Recipe resulting in soft fluffy madeleine shell cakes. Perfect and most delicious when enjoyed freshly baked still warm!
Modern Recipe from the region of Lorraine in France.
I have prepared a quick how-to video for you further below so that you can prepare these amazing little French cakes from scratch at home for your family!
Madeleines are everyone’s favorite. I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t like these little tasty cakes!
Madeleines, the sophisticated little cake treats, are next to tarts and crepes, exactly what I would define typically traditionally French.
If you don’t know French Madeleine then I can tell you that you are missing out big time on some of the best tea time treats in this world!
The little cakes are easy and quick to prepare and guests always appreciate them.
What are Madeleine cakes?
Madeleines are small shell-shaped cakes, popularized in the North-Eastern region of Lorraine in France. Apropos Lorraine, if you remember, I mentioned in another post the Quiche Lorraine which is a savory egg-based pastry specialty from the same region.
These little madeleine cakes are prepared with a simple flour-based dough, kind of like a muffin or a plain sponge cake.
A madeleine is commonly flavored with:
- Lemon zest or
- Honey or
- Orange Blossom Water
Besides the common flavors, there are also chocolate madeleines or variations where almond flour is used.
In fact, the tradition madeleines are prepared with finely ground nuts such as almonds.
Madeleine cakes are small handy and you can enjoy them on the run, making madeleines the perfect take away dessert.
History of Madeleine cakes
The history around the Madeleine cakes is quite a controversial one. The Larousse Gastronomique offers various stories around the little cake.
A story goes that a servant called Madeleine Paulmier, from Lorraine, may have been the inverter of the cakes.
From the 19th Century till the 2nd world war, the cakes were sold by saleswoman to the traveling train passengers, who would stick around train stations with their huge straw baskets, shouting out to get noticed for their freshly baked Madeleines.
It used to be a huge attraction and show for travelers because the women had only a certain amount of time to their disposition to sell their Madeleines before the trains were to depart.
That contributed enormously to the popularity of the small handy cakes!
“Throw over a Madeleine” was the sentence and motto of the day. A reminder after a hard day that the world was still soft, warm and welcoming.
A centime coin or two was worth every single comforting bite of a still warm freshly baked Madeleine cake.
How to make the best madeleine cakes?
To prepare the Madeleine from scratch is easy and won’t take up much of your time.
What is important is that you get the shell pan shapes for the madeleine to bake in.
You can use PFOA-free non-stick Madeleine pans or food safe (European grade) silicon madeleine shapes. I own a set of silicon shapes as you can see because I can roll up the shapes which saves me space with all the various cake molds that I own!
Orange Blossom Water
Orange blossom water is very south french and north African, it’s an essential aroma giver to local sweets there.
Yet orange blossom water is a very common flavor for french madeleines, making this your best madeleine recipe option.
Orange Blossom water can be bought online, in supermarkets, special North African/Mediterranean grocery stores or you can try to make your own orange flower water infusion at home.
I found this orange blossom water here which seems to be a decent quality.
I used an aged French blossom water. I do have a more recent orange blossom water, which I bought in France.
The old, aged orange blossom water was softer in flavor and had a pure flavor while the commercial orange blossom water was more intense.
I just want to point that out so that you know how to adjust the amount of orange blossom water to make the Best Madeleine Recipe with this flavoring profile, as it depends on what orange blossom water you are using.
Not all available orange blossom waters are the same.
Old fashioned aged orange blossom water on the left and new commercial version on the right[/caption]
Of course, you are free to substitute the orange blossom water with honey or lemon zest in this recipe.
You can try to using almond essence, rose water, cherry essence or rum instead of the orange flower flavors.
More French Recipe ideas:
- Brioche Buns from scratch
- Savory Crepes with Buckwheat Flour
- French Apple Cake with Calvados
- Fluffy Waffles [French Version]
Dear Reader, How did you get to know about Madeleine cakes?
Best Madeleine Recipe with Orange blossom water
How to Video
- Preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit/180° Celsius.
- Continue to add the flour and baking powder and mix it all to a smooth dough. Now add the Orange blossom water and mix it well again.
- Butter the Madeleine molds.
- Pour the batter into the mold shapes.
- Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until golden brown at 350° Fahrenheit/180° Celsius.
- You may switch the orange blossom water with another flavoring. See post for suggestions.
- Add flavoring amount depending on the intensity. For example, some orange flower blossom water is more intense than others.
- The amount of Madeleine cakes that you get out of a batch of dough depends on your madeleine pan size.
- Keep in mind, to not overfill your madeleine shapes because they grow a lot in size due to the leavening added. Madeleines are great for breakfast too!