Allyson Gofton - The classic little French cake

Publish Date
Friday, 10 October 2014, 12:00AM
By Allyson Gofton

Madeleines are very French and very simple  – do not be distracted by the English version, which bears little resemblance other than being sponge cake!   What is known is that Madeleines are linked to the town of Commercy in Lorraine, east of Paris towards the German border and the court of King Stanislaus in the 18th century.. The genuine Madeleine is avery small sponge cake, made from creamed egg yolks, butter, sugar, lemon zest and flour, beaten together before the beaten egg whites are added.   Traditionally they are baked in little shell-shaped moulds.  They have been mentioned in literature by the likes of Proust and more recently in the lyrics of a song recorded in 2012 by the Pet Shop Boys on the album Elysium.

One might be forgiven for thinking there’s a link with the Place de la Madeleine in Paris and its church originally dedicated to Mary Magdalene, but the only possible connection I can think of is the iconic food shop of Fauchon, famous for its macaroons and éclairs, but which also makes madeleines.

Easy to make and the perfect partner for afternoon tea.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-18 minutes
Serves: Makes 12 madeleines

100 grams butter, softened
½ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
grated rind of 1 lemon or orange
2 eggs
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Grease and flour 12 madeleine moulds.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, beath the butter, sugar, vanilla essence and lemon or orange rind until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and light.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder together and carefully stir into the creamed mixture with a slotted spoon.
  5. Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared madeleine moulds.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes until golden and firm to the touch.
  7. Allow the madelines to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the moulds. Place on a wire rack to cool. Serve dusted with icing sugar and accompanied with mascarpone or sweetened whipped cream.

Cooks Tips:

  • In place of madeleine moulds use friand or muffin tins.

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