Ble Sucré: The Best Madeleines in Paris

The best Madeleines in the world are right here in Paris.

Well…duh. You don’t need to visit my blog to know that, do you? I’ve never been one of those people who waxed poetically about Madeleines, invoking Proust’s name whenever I can.
(As if I’ve even read Proust.)

So although I don’t have nostalgic ties to Madeleines, I do like the idea of something a bit buttery, with a gilded crust, relatively portable, and not too-sweet for my afternoon gouter, or le snack, as it’s often referred to around town.

But most of the time I’m disappointed. The Madeleine I buy is either too dry, too floury, or worse, has the acrid taste of baking powder. But then the skies parted one day when I was at a new bakery in Paris, blé sucré, in the vastly pleasant, but out-of-the-way Square Trousseau. This new boulangerie and pastry shop is owned by Fabrice Le Bourdat, who worked with Gilles Marchal, the pastry chef at the esteemed Bristol.

madeleines.jpg

Madeleines are the proverbial ‘little something’ that goes well with tea. But to be honest, there’s nothing that makes me cringe more than when I read in the headnote of a recipe in a cookbook, “This goes well with tea in the afternoon.”

I mean, what little sweet thing doesn’t?
And if that’s the most exciting thing you can say about your recipe, then what the hell’s it doing in your cookbook?


Perhaps because it’s far from the madding crowds, prices at blé sucré are very reasonable but the quality is unquestionably high. I’m not going to tell you about the deeply-dark homemade caramels with salted butter or the shatteringly-flaky croissants they coincidentally seem to be coming out of the oven whenever I walk in the door. Nor will I mention the little sacks full of tender little almond financiers or the freezer full of housemade ice creams that made its début appearance just last week.

But these Madeleines are all that a Madeleine should be: Tender little cakes with the fine, flavor of soft French flour and bronzed with a butter crust. But the icing on the cake (or should I say the icing on the Madeleine?) is the light citrusy glaze that moistens and elevates these Madeleines from being something ordinary to being the moist, yet delicately-dainty little cakes that makes writers rhapsodize about. And although I enjoy them as a little snack, I also would agree that they’re definitely tea-worthy.

Just don’t tell anyone I said that.

Blé Sucré
Square Trousseau
7, rue Antoine Vollon (12th)
Tél: 01 43 40 77 73
Métro: Ledru-Rollin

31 comments

  • What, I ask, is wrong with the world that tea gets mentioned with afternoon? What is wrong with sherry or marsala? I should think Madelaines and any of the sipping wines would be better than nasty old tea.

  • Mmmm… these babies seem worth the trek to Square Trousseau. My least favourites are rubbery madeleines – they give their species a bad name… A citrussy glaze is such a wonderful way to lift these into the realms of the sublime! Another thing to add to my Paris to do list for next time.

  • Citrus glaze on a madeleine? Sounds divine. I won’t be in Paris this summer, but I’ll pass on the address to all my friends who will. Thanks.

  • Those sound marvelous. So far, the best Madeleines I’ve had were ones fresh out of my own oven. I think, as with so many other items, freshness is the real key with them. The next time I am Paris though (won’t be for years, sadly) I will try and have these. I love Madeleines!

  • I think you made a pretty good point:

    “But most of the time (ok…always) I’m disappointed. The Madeleine I buy is either too dry, too floury, or worse, has the acrid taste of baking powder.”

    In Paris, just like anywhere else, you can get baked goods that aren’t up to par with the prime specimen. Likewise I’m sure you can get madeleines just about anywhere else in the world that are on par with the ones you are showcasing.

  • Those look delicious. Since I’m a fan of tea, I’d definitely have them with tea. But since I drink tea all day long, that’s not putting any kind of boundaries on when I can eat cookies.

    Could you please explain what’s with the Madeleine “bump?” Is it important? A sure sign of a good one?

  • Proust may definately be long, but it’s worth the read! And coincidently, it is now generally thought that he was actually dipping stale toast into his tea in place of madeleines… but that doesn’t have quite the same poetic ring to it.

  • Oh David, I have been searching for a worthy Madeleine recipe. Do you have one? Can you reccommend where I can find a superb recipe.

  • Hi David, your madeleines look lovely.

    I wanted to say that I have been anticipating your ice cream book, and although it hasn’t come on sale in the UK yet I ordered a copy from the US and it’s arrived.

    Gorgeous book! Well done, I haven’t read it all yet, but I’m making date, rum and pecan ice cream this weekend. Thank you for another great book.

  • I adore madeleines. I have found the best ones are the ones I make myself also. I’ve always made mine with fresh homegrown Meyer lemon zest.

    What is with that bump? I try to avoid it with mine. Intentionally underfilling the molds to avoid it. I also tend to prefer mine on the lightly golden side. But it’s rather hard with all that butter in the molds.

    Hmmm, now I must tinker with a light citrus glaze to top off the next batch.

  • Perhaps it’s a case of the best boulangeries not being so good at pastry and vice versa, but I have to say that I wasn’t wowed by their baguette. However, since the bakery is only a few minutes from home and the markets, I’ll certainly give the pastries a go.

  • Estelle: The only recipe I’ve ever made that tasted authentic was in Cooking At Home on Rue Tatin (which is noticed in on sale at Amazon for only $7.49!) They’re flavored with lemon verbena, but being a cranky purist, I leave that out.

    Joanne: The hump, I think, tends to get over-exaggerated (due to M. Proust!) Hence the copious amount of baking powder people tend to add .

    I always, always use Rumford aluminum-free baking powder to avoid that metallic taste. (If any of you out there don’t use it, dump what you have down the drain and go buy a tin of it…they sell it at many stores, including Trader Joes.)

    Some people freeze the madeleine sheet, filled with batter, prior to baking. I haven’t baked them that much…and since I have blé sucré nearby making such delicious ones, why bother?

    Kelly-Jane: There was a shipping issue that needed to be worked out with the overseas deliveries, but they should be available around now. Glad your copy arrived and you’re enjoying the book!

    Judith: Thanks, as usual, for the chuckle!

    Jef: I used to like the Donsumor madeleines available in the Bay Area, but haven’t tasted them in a while. Now I’m hooked on, and closer to, the ones at blé sucré

  • Great to hear that Gilles Marchal has struck out on his own. Not only is he one of the best pastry chefs in France, he’s one of the nicest guys around.

  • Whoops I’m guilty of buying those little packaged madeleines they sell in the train station machines..I have to say I loved every fake lemony crumb but I’m ready to be converted.

  • A million thanks for the tip! I sped over to blé sucré this morning after reading your post and was blown away by the Madeleines, as were the friends I shared them with. The caramels I saved for my next visit (read: tomorrow).

  • Marcel Proust left out one important detail: The recipe.

    “She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called petites madeleines, which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place…at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory…….

    Did anyone ever asked him for the recipe?.

  • Sorry ….
    Did anyone ever ask him for the recipe?

  • the best madelines i have ever made has a spanish twist..a little nutty with pistachios, saffron and orange zest. baked in a madeline mold, of course.

    re french madelines, the secret is to add a little finely ground almond flour.

  • since when is square trousseau out of the way? it’s right next to the marche d’aligre!

  • I agree, I always find madeleines boring, my madeleine pan is actually rusting over. However, I did make some cornmeal madeleines at Thanksgiving to be topped with creme fraiche and caviar, and they were delicious. I credit the corn-muffin type batter though.

  • Hey David…Did you read the good review of your book over at Michael Ruhlman’s Blog?

    It looks like you have another ice cream fan…

  • Madeleines I can do without, more of a savory man. If you want to get a good picture of Proust though, without tackling his oeuvre, check out the book “Monsieur Proust” by Celeste Albaret. She was his girl Friday. Aside from her turning a blind eye to some aspects of his character it gives an interesting portrait of an eccentric genius. Sadly, after reading this, one suspects that were Proust alive today they would give him some type of anti-anxiety medication and he would merely have a column at Vanity Faire.

  • I gave a couple of their fruity pastries a try.
    They were not bad, but a little bland.
    I am used to fruits being much tastier when I cook or when I go to Pierre Herme.
    I will not go back.

  • Well, perhaps you have found the best in Paris, but you will have to fight the good citoyens of the province of Lorraine, who lay claim to the madeleine. When I lived there, these were considered the speciality I believe of the town of Commercy. Absolutely delicious madeleines to be procured there.
    You also have the advantage of seeing that lovely little chateau there, if you visit.

  • Tom: Curiously, a couple of weeks ago I was on a train to Strasbourg and we passed through Commercy! I wanted to hop out and see if I could find a good Madeleine, since the only ones I’ve seen from Commercy are the pre-packaged ones (that are strangely orange-yellow.)

    On my next trip, I’ll take a stop-over. Thanks for the tip!

  • I have always loved Madeleines, especially the ones that come out of my own oven. As a former student of the Religious of the Sacred Heart, this little sweet is especially close to my heart because the foundress was St. Madeleine Sophie Barat (born in Joigny, France)! I often grate a little lemon or orange zest into the batter, but will try the lemon glaze. Why didn’t I ever think to do this before? The lemon would also compliment my Honey Madeleines. Ah, the Proustian rememberences of the past to inspire the present and future! Thank you, David!

  • I am a freelance food writer and I am writing and I am writing an article about madeleines. I need to a pastry chef to interview for my article about madeleines. Do you know any pastry chef who would be interested? Thank you.

  • Hi David,

    I always frequent your blog when searching for great places to find pastries and chocolates in France. Being just a skip across the pond in London, its a shame Eurostar is so expensive!!

    Anyway, thanks to your writeup about Ble Sucre, I had the best Croissants, Pain au Chocolat, Madeleine and a really good Financier there. Looking forward to reading about you visiting more places in France!

    Cheers!

    Nick.

  • Bugger. I though you were going to crown the story with a recipe.

  • I am praying Ble Sucre is open on Saturdays!!!!
    OMG that kouign ammmon thing looks to die for!!
    Tanks
    carolg

  • hello David,

    I was wondering if you could comment on some restaurants that might be open on New Years and also delicious? Thanks for your help. Your blog is wonderful! Renee