Lemon-Glazed Madeleine Recipe

Madeleines

This is the post I never thought I’d write.

I never wanted to tackle madeleines. I thought they were something that…darn it…you just needed to eat in France. Like hamburgers and bagels, some things just don’t translate cross-culturally. If you wanted a madeleine, darn it, you came to France to have one. I mean, did you ever have a bagel in Banff? Do you even know where Banff is?

Anticipating the avalanche of questions madeleines inspire, I urge you to simply follow the recipe. The question of baking powder is up to you. If you use it, there’s a greater likelihood they’ll be a hump and the cakes will be fuller and plump. But some say baking powder shouldn’t even be in the same room with madeleines, so I’ll leave that decision up to you.

If you do use baking powder, use an aluminum-free brand, like Rumford, which leaves no tinny aftertaste. If you can’t get it, use what you can. But try to find a brand labeled double-acting.

Madeleine Humps

A few factors make these madeleines humpy…


Freezing the prepared molds before baking plus chilling the batter for at least 3 hours in advance seems to help. My fridge seems to have developed an ever-present ‘No Vacancy’ policy, even after a recent tenant was forcibly evicted, but I’m managing to make do with what’s available around here.

My Cooling Rack

Just as important is to not spread the batter in the pan once you’ve scooped it in. If you have space in your freezer, you can put the batter in the pans and chill them all together. (Oh my, all these options; I think I’m losing you.) But I’m sure Parisian pigeons like madeleines as much as the rest of us around here so I’m not tempting fate and somehow found room in the icebox for those.

And do I hear little voices out there asking, “How do I know how much batter to put in the pan in advance since it’s going to spread?”

You need to develop your extra-keen sense of perception and eye-ball how much you think will fit in the mold, which will spread during the first few minutes of baking. You’ll just have to guess, but I know you can do it. I just know you can.

If that scares you, then go ahead and estimate how much batter will fill each indentation to 3/4′s, measure or weigh it, bake it off and see what happens. If it’s right, great. If not, then repeat all those steps until you get it right. After each batch clean the pan, then bake the rest, using your previous calculations as a guide to re-plunk the batter in.

Me?
I’m happy to take a stab at guessing. And if given a choice, I choose happiness over washing extra dishes, thanks.

The other question is which kind of pan to use. Years ago on a trip to Paris, I bought traditional unlined madeleine pans at MORA with every intention of baking madeleines all the time back in California.

Guess how many times I made madeleines in California?

Madeleines

I just hope whoever bought them at my garage sale a few years later got more use out of them than I did.

The trusty non-stick ones that I have now are much easier to use and the little devils just slide right out. And into my mouth.

Lemon-Glazed Madeleines

24 cookies

Adapted from The Sweet Life In Paris by David Lebovitz

If you use baking powder, they may take another minute or so to bake since the batter will rise higher. They’re done when the cakes feel just set if you poke them with your finger. Avoid overbaking them. There’s nothing better than a fresh, buttery madeleine.

I also prefer to bake these in the upper-third of my oven, so the tops get slightly-browned. I love the lemon glaze, but you can omit it if you want your madeleines nekkid.

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (130g) granulated sugar
  • rounded 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup (175g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
  • zest of one small lemon
  • 9 tablespoons (120g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds
  • 3/4 cup (150g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water

1. Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer.

2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 5 minutes until frothy and thickened.

3. Spoon the flour and baking powder, if using, into a sifter or mesh strainer and use a spatula to fold in the flour as you sift it over the batter. (Rest the bowl on a damp towel to help steady it for you.)

4. Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter, then dribble the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.

5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Batter can be chilled for up to 12 hours.)

6. To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

8. Plop enough batter in the center of each indentation with enough batter which you think will fill it by 3/4′s (you’ll have to eyeball it, but it’s not brain-surgery so don’t worry if you’re not exact.) Do not spread it.

10. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until the cakes just feel set. While the cakes are baking, make a glaze in a small mixing bowl by stirring together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth.

11. Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. The moment they’re cool enough to handle, dip each cake in the glaze, turning them over to make sure both sides are coated and scrape off any excess with a dull knife. After dipping, rest each one back on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up.

Storage: Glazed madeleines are best left uncovered, or not tightly-wrapped; they’re best eaten the day they’re made. They can be kept in a container for up to three days after baking, if necessary. I don’t recommend freezing them since the glaze will melt.

More Madeleine Madness

Madeleines from 101 Cookbooks.

Persimmon madeleines from Lara.

Pim tackles madeleines.

Wanna know How Proust Can Change Your Life?

Clotilde discovers chestnut honey madeleines in Paris.

My favorite madeleines in Paris (which I doubt are roof-cooled.)

Josh’s post-Proustian madeleines.

MORA sells madeleine molds in Paris. (Or you can get them online.)

59 comments

  • Banff is in Canada Dave! Madelines are good anywhere, I mean I had a bagel in New York, a few days ago and it sucked, so I say bake if you want em!

  • Banff has got some great food- where else can you have moose fondue?

    I will be arriving in Paris for one month on Monday. I have waited my whole life to have a madeline. The excitement is palpable.

  • I’m with you on the “needed to be eaten in France” part… I still think it’s very weird to bake madeleines in Brasil… but I DID write down your adress for Pain de Sucre last time you posted it. I am staying in Paris for a whole month in january (I just cant wait to fly out there and get out of this HEAT down here…) and have been writing down all your tips. I am taking a class at Pierre Herme too(at the Ecole Ferrandi) …At the end of the month , I sincerely plan to blame my weight gain on you too!!! LOL !!

  • Jeremy: I know that Banff is in Canada, but I don’t know if I could pin-point it on a map.

    Leah: And that moose fondue highlights my point exactly: some foods should stay where they are!

    Flavia: I’d be interested to hear how that class goes. I don’t know if he actually teaches them or not, but the brochure sure is mouthwatering. And the heat of Brasil sounds pretty enticing…wanna swap homes? ; )
    (I promise to clean up the eggs first..)

  • David, your timing is perfect– I’ve been feeling sorry for my underused madeleine molds and was planning to make madeleines soon. I can’t wait to try all your tips.

    Also, I love that you read Alain de Botton.

  • Banff is the cultural Mecca of Canada for artists. Maybe your readers in Tuscon won’t know where it is, but I assure you that your millions of Canadian readers know it and many of them, like me love it there. I think I’ve even eaten bagels in Banff, but I couldn’t tell you how it tasted, I was busy looking at the mountains. Thank you for the recipe. I’ll try them this holiday.

  • Alexa: I’m not knocking Banff at all. In fact, it looks beautiful…except for that -28C weather there today.

    I’ve had Montreal bagels, those unsalted ones, and in spite of the incredible food I had in that city, the bagels were a let-down. Glad to know that there are bagels in Banff. Even if they aren’t as memorable as the mountains! ; )

  • Since moving to the UK I’ve come to believe that Banff, AB, must been named after the one in Scotland. Not likely that people would randomly come up with that smash of consonants twice – except maybe in Wales.

    Banff (AB) as cultural mecca? News to me. Beyond it’s association with the Rockies, which are pretty powerful in-person, I’ve only heard of Banff in the same sentence as the television festival. But I’ve been off the prairies for a decade now, so perhaps I’m just out-of-touch…

  • David, your lemon glazed madeleines are tempting. Do the French consider them as cookies or cake? What do you think?

  • Mandy: There really isn’t a word in French for cookies. They’ll often just say, les cookies, but with a French accent!

    Usually they’ll just use the word gâteau for cookies, or petits gâteau, but perhaps one of my French readers can be more enlightening than l’américain on this one?

  • Those look so good. I don’t have the pans and I have to keep a lid on the shopping before I move overseas. The less things I need to ship the better.

    Italy shares a border with France so I think I can try this recipe once I move, no?

    I’ve seen Madeleines at Starbucks. I have not tried them.

  • David they look perfect. I’ve only ever baked the Susan Loomis recipe for ginger madeleines. I was happy with them. I don’t have a madeleine pan so used a regular patty pan tin. You can see them here

  • The most perfect on earth. Ever.

  • are madeleines really supposed to be dry? i bought some at a local bakery a few weeks back and it stuck on my throat.

    i do confess to using silicone bundt pans with ridges for some cakes, though i agree with you, crumbs still stick… so i still greased them anyway. but since i needed quite a few and was able to get them at factory price… i’m not complaining. =D it’s only troublesome that i need a baking sheet under them, as a consequence, i can only bake 2 at a time, instead of 3. now you’re making me consider buying new nonstick pans… another item to my list of things to (hope to) buy this christmas.

  • Why oh why do madelines have so much mana? Is it because they share a profile with the humpback whales? Or what? I practically clutched my heart when I saw these perfect madelines and I am not a dramatic girl. Sheesh. I must need to eat some breakfast.

    I also prefer seeing humpbacks on whales to seeing them on madelines, but yours manage to strike a perfectly diplomatic balance between the have’s and the have nots. And none of them look cracked which is good, though I can’t imagine you ever cracking a madeline. I do not like the cracked ones.

  • Check this out about Pierre Herme’s madeline recipe: here

  • I had a basket of warm, wonderful madeleines at Bistro Pastis in Vancouver, Canada (coincidentally, not all that far from Banff!) and I can’t imagine how they could have been better. Although you could say everything tastes better in Paris. Except maybe the ill-advised tuna pizza I had in the Marais…

  • These cookies are the bane of my existence. They are supposedly so easy, but mine NEVER come out right. Last time I tried my cookies puffed up so much they turned into one cake over the madeleine tin. I’d give your recipe a shot, but I only have two burners (no oven)! I’ll have to wait to try yours. Unless you’re inviting me over for tea and cookies!?!?! Bises, Ms. Glaze

  • Nice story as usual I loved reading your post David! I have a recipe with no wait time, outside on a tricky shelf :-): in English and in French.

    cheers!

  • Ooo! I’ve tried making madeleines a few times and although they turned out delicious, I keep failing to get the elusive, signature humps! I will definitely chill the pan and batter in advance :)

  • You know, my kids LOVE those packaged, american madeleines they get sometimes at Pete’s coffee. We started letting them have one when they were tiny, wrongly rationalizing that somehow, they weren’t as bad as a regular cookie. But here, they cost ~$0.75 EACH! So, I make them just for my budget – forget the cost of taking the kids to Paris right now for real ones…

    You recipe looks better than the one I’ve used. I’ll try it.

  • Ah, my go to cookie/cake. I use the metal pans from Williams Sonoma. I have 4 each of the regular and mini sized pans. Yes, I make that many. I chill my batter also. I found that I don’t need to butter then chill the pans as long as the batter is chilled. Gale Gand has a technique where she chills the pans, butter, chill, and repeat.

    Oh, for the amount of batter in the molds; I use plastic soup spoons from take out pho. Not the regular spoons, but the wider bowl ones. One level spoon, and I use another spoon to scrape it into the mold. The perfect amount. I have never measured what that equals to, but I would guess 1- 1.5 tablespoons.

    Homemade madeleines cost less than store bought ones definitely. It just takes a little time and effort. I don’t use powdered sugar, or glaze on mine, more like a purist and just use Meyer lemon zest in the batter. Oh I also cheat and use Cook’s powdered vanilla. I just love that stuff.

  • I was the lucky purchaser of those Madeleines pans at the garage sale…and no, they have not been used. Rather, I framed them for future sale on eBay when you finally make it big! ;-)

  • I totally agree with you about sillicon molds. When you grab it, the cake breaks itself and fell down in pieces, plus it often burns the cakes without giving it brown or crisp aspect the step before (O_o) !

    i saw messages in consumer magazines here saying the recommandation not to use the ” 220 to 240° ” type, red ones, because they might release some toxic components in the food. The only safe sillicon molds would be the ” 250° and higher” ones. blahhh, I think i really prefer to use my non sticking metal mold, washes in seconds and gives a nice crisp golden crust. (and not mentionning it’s a lot cheaper :D)

  • Oh yeah the Madelines look fabulous!

  • I can’t wait to try the recipe. Thanks!

  • CC: In that case, tell you what; I’ll double your money and buy ‘em back.

    Jessamyn: My point exactly—serves you right for ordering pizza in Paris! And be thankful it didn’t have canned corn on it. : 0

    krysalia: Well, there’s talk also about non-stick coatings too. But I figure since I don’t smoke or take drugs, that mitigates any risk. I hope…

    joanne: I use mini-ice cream scoops for portioning. I have a whole set, but I think not everyone’s as crazy as I am. Good tip!

    Ms Glaze: Girlfriend, you got an open invitation (um…but better call first…)

    Babeth & June: Thanks for the recipes & links!

  • YES! We even make Madeleines in places like……my wee kitchen here in Virginia!

  • David, you are correct, there isn’t really one word that really expresses the meaning of COOKIE in French.

    There is biscuit and galette but neither of those is really the same as saying petits gâteaux. It’s one of those things, French doesnt have the same amount of words as English does. One of my favorite examples is SHALLOW.

    The is no word for it in French. You have to say peu profond or “not deep”.

  • Thank you, thank you, for the best ever madeleine recipe. I made these as I was done reading the post. They came out so well, that I am making them as x-mas gifts.

  • Your madeleines look better than any others I’ve seen. Lovely. When the madeleine hump problem is solved, could you address the issue of how much pop there is supposed to be in popovers? Should they be completely dry inside or can there be some soft dough left in a few places inside? And, the town in Arizona whose citizens don’t know the location of Banff is spelled “Tucson.”

  • I just wanted to let you know I’ve been looking for the perfect madeleine recipe for awhile, so I jumped at the chance to make these today, and they are absolutely divine.

  • I love the other David’s madeleines at Manresa in California. He may have learnt how to make them in France, though. Hmmmmm, red bell pepper madeleines. I love them savory or sweet!

  • Oh, good, I’m not the only one who doesn’t care for silicone bakeware!

    And those madeleines look gorgeous! I think I’ll have to wait until I go to France to try them, though.

  • about non stick coatings: i heard about that too, and i admit i tend not to use them directly in contact with the food when what i’m baking is acid in some way (citrus cake, crumble with fruits under) (hey, who said “paranoid” ? i heard you ! :D) .

    In those cases, i prefer to use special papier in between food and mold. this kind of paper is probably dangerous too, but after all, even living causes death after a while, so i stop at this level (the paper) of carefulness :D

  • I checked out your online madeleine molds. They were more than twice as much as the ones on eBay.

  • Hi Bob: I checked on Ebay and didn’t see any large non-stick metal madeleine molds, like I used.

    But since things change on Ebay very frequently, if I link to an item, it very well could be gone by the time someone gets to it. If there’s an Ebay store that’s indeed selling them at half the price, please share the link here so people can get ‘em.

    Thanks!

    (I did check at Bridge, but they don’t carry the large non-stick molds…although nothing can be as cheap as those ones I sold at my garage sale…)

  • Wow, who knew that mentioning Banff in a food post would elicit so much comment?! One point of contention -To Jessamyn who wrote that she had lovely madelines at Pastis in Vancouver …. and mentioned that “coincidentally, [ Vancouver is] not all that far from Banff!” If 857 km [ the distance from Vancouver to Banff] is “not all that far” then I suppose Paris is not that far from Venice.
    Your madelines look lovely….

  • What a great description, David. I hope I find time to make some between now and Christmas:)

  • …maybe because I’ve never been to Paris, but madeleines are one of those things I’ve tried to train myself to like as much as other people seem to. I’ve bought them and made them in hopes that the magic people say they have will have an effect on me… no luck. Look for my madeleine pan on sale in my yard this summer. :)

  • Your madeleines look lovely. But aren’t they iced upside down? The French usually present the madeleines with the hump on top, and the shell print at the bottom, like a little boat. (Why else work so hard to have a hump?).

    See this link, most of the madeleines are presented hump-side up, though some are indeed shell-side up in the background: Here

    Sorry, this is my pet peeve with non-French photos of madeleines…

  • The Centre for the Arts in Banff is a Canadian-made International oasis for artists. And the skiing isn’t bad, either (it’s in the Canadian Rockies)! Unfortunately, it’s also become utterly overrun with tourists…..

    I’ve been trying to find a recipe for Jesuits (a fabulous, triangular shaped, almond flavoured pastry, not a Catholic monk) since I visited the Catalan region of southern France four years ago – any leads?

  • Astrid: I glazed both sides, since I’m half-French now! If you check the post I did about the French-made madeleines at blé sucré, I showed them hump-side up.

    Megan: Try at least one batch before you sell-off that pan. They’re fun (and delicious!)

  • the glaze looks amazing! can’t believe i spent two summers in France without eating a single madeline (particularly because Madeline was my favorite bedtime story when I was little!)!

  • coucou david,
    i was in paris just this past weekend (your gorgeous city ;-) and i enjoyed very much some of the addresses you’re sharing with us here in your blog! i’m telling you…i’ve never done a trip this satisfying, appetizing and delicious before (almost 100%) :-D thanks to YOU for the big part of it! seriously…wish i could meet up with you though and had a tour but i guess next time when i’d be ‘richer’ ;-P

    (for glazed madeleines…i did try the one you recommended, ble sucre :-) yum! yours too indeed…

    take care, more successes in 2008!
    merry xmas too
    ciaoooo

  • coucou david,
    i was in paris just this past weekend (your gorgeous city ;-) and i enjoyed very much some of the addresses you’re sharing with us here in your blog! i’m telling you…i’ve never done a trip this satisfying, appetizing and delicious before (almost 100%) :-D thanks to YOU for the big part of it! seriously…wish i could meet up with you though and had a tour but i guess next time when i’d be ‘richer’ ;-P

    (for glazed madeleines…i did try the one you recommended, ble sucre :-) yum! yours too indeed…

    take care, more successes in 2008!
    merry xmas too
    ciaoooo

  • They definitely look perfect! It’s a French girl brought up on Proust reading that says so

  • Your Madeleines are gorgeous. I’m feeling inspired to try them out.
    The original Banff is just along the coast from me here in Scotland and, funnily enough, though I’ve never had a bagel there, I have had a Madeleine! And it was terrible. :-p

  • HEY DAVID…JUST SAW YOU ON TV AND I LIKE WHAT I SAW….I WOULD LOVE TO EAT YOUR MADELEINES…A WHILE BACK I LIVED IN PARIS FOR A YEAR AND WORKED FOR TWA AIRLINES THERE….YOU’RE GOING TO HATE ME BUT I HAD TO RETURN TO THE STATES BECAUSE I WAS TOO AMERICAN…AS MUCH AS I LOVE FRENCH FOOD I MISSED PEANUT BUTTER AND WHITE CASTLE HAMBURGERS…SO THERE!..PERSUE THE GOOD LIFE…REGARDS….BOB SMITH

  • It’s midnight here in Northern California and I have already eaten four warm madeleines and will have to eat at least two more before I crash– one with tea, and one that has fully cooled, as opposed to warm– for research purposes, of course!

    I have tried many madeleine recipes and I like yours best so far. I think I may try it again with orange flower water and tangerine zest, and use cake flour and an extra tablespoon of butter. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think they aren’t already grand the way they are!

    Thanks! Love your blog, too.

    Melinda

  • David -

    Thank you for the delicious recipe! I just finished reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog where two of the main characters share the stories of their lives over tea and madeleines, and so I was inspired to make some madeleines. I searched the internet and found your recipe, and they turned out beautifully. I used non-stick pans, didn’t butter or flour the pans but popped them in the freezer while the genoise cooled in the refrigerator for an hour. I also used your recommendation for Rumford baking powder, and the madeleines were perfectly humped and plumped. Again, thanks so much!

    ~Jill

  • I have to say, I can kick myself for never having enrolled in ANY sort of baking class or course while living in Paris last year. I mean, I was studying Globalizations effects on post-colonial France, but I could have used those between class interludes to learn some proper tricks of the French pastry trade. Really, I could kick myself. I think I shall first complete these madeleines (using a proper hand-me-down madeleine pan) and then begin planning and saving for my next trip to Paris where I shall indeed take a baking course or two. I hate regrets…

  • Making these today… The only problem is that I have trouble NOT finishing the entire bag of madeleines when I buy them (and each bag has, like, 6!) so it will be a huge challenge to resist eating the entire 24 cookies that come out of this recipe. Wish me luck!!!

  • Hi David, I am making madeleines and the lemon glaze and it has led me to ask a general baking question of you.
    I am new cooking and baking. I have a scale and love to use it. Here is the dilemna. An example is my powdered sugar is 30g per 1/4 cup. My flour is also 30g per 1/4 cup. So to translate this recipe, my measured powdered sugar would be 90g and my flour 150g. Now the flour isnt off that far but the powdered sugar considerably less than your weighed amounts.
    When using weights in recipes should i just go with the weight measurements or the weighed measurements of that particular product I am using.
    If there was one or the other it doesnt matter but when there are both measurements and weights, its leaving me confused.
    Thank you very much for your input.
    Cindy

  • David,

    A note of thanks for your savant-like culinary insights and your amazing food photography. Like double dipping without the smack up the back of the head.

    Bravo!

  • David,
    I made this recipe yesterday for a close friend of mine who happens to be French. She absolutely loved them as did I and my family. However, I believe I made a mistake with the glaze because it did not set on the madeleines as shown in your pictures. Instead, it seeped into the madeleine like a syrup on a sponge cake. Do you have any suggestions for the next time (because there will definitely be a next time!)?

    Merci,
    Christiana

  • David, thanks for posting this recipe, I made them yesterday for a neighborhood party and we’re a wild success.
    I didn’t do the glace, and the flavor of the madeleine was just perfect and they had a bump without the baking powder. I felt so proud, thanks, thanks.
    You are the best! My husband is glad you are gay, because I have a serious crash with you, ahah
    Que tengas un lindo día/noche!

  • Hi David,
    I am attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and we just learned Madeleines. To answer the question, are they cakes or cookies, they are “traveling cakes”. Cakes you can take on a picnic, to the beach, or as the chef said, “to your granny’s or…on a walk in the forest and eat with some mushrooms.” Well, petite cakes and mushrooms are a new one on me! But you get the idea, something easy to transport that is tasty.
    Anyway, it is tres important to get that hump in the little cake. A boat on one side, a shell on the other. Interestingly, here we boil, yes boil, the butter and then pour it in the dry ingredients right off the stove! But we also chill the dough as you do, and the pan, before baking.

  • Bonjour David,

    I just made these this week (no idea if you’ll even see this comment as this post is from 2007!) and the texture and shape of the cookies was absolutely perfect! They had the humps and everything. My only problem with the recipe is the taste: they tasted very eggy to me. I see that you call for 3 “large” eggs, which mine were marked as. I wonder if French large eggs are still smaller than American large eggs? (I’m in Oakland, CA). Do you have any suggestions?

    Merci!