February 2008

Pregnant Madeleines

Close friends of mine will know that I am obsessed with madleleines, the awesome little French tea cakes that the entire food blogging world seems to blog about these days. I just love ’em to death man. My dad calls them clam cookies. A character in a Korean drama called them “sexy cookies.” They have beautiful scalloped surfaces and you can flavor them with grated lemon peel (my favorite), vanilla, almond extract, you name it.

So I had a dilemma with these little suckers and it was the fact that whenever I made them, they looked pregnant. The surface of the mini cakes would protrude in a most awful way. It was distressing to the point that I went on a mission to fix this problem. I thought and thought about it. Why is it doing that when the recipes I find on all those food blogs show pictures of homemade madeleines sans humps?

At Borders one evening, I flipped through one of Martha Stewart’s many wedding cake cookbooks and there it was, mocking me. A pink “Madeleine” wedding cake that had rows of gorgeous, golden madeleines with impeccably flat surfaces. I thought some more. It must have something to with leavening, I finally realized when I saw that some recipes have no baking powder.

So the next time I made them, I used a wonderful simple recipe a la Bon Appetit that had no baking soda or powder. The result was magical. No humps. I didn’t have to add leavening. I didn’t have to beat the butter until it was lightly whipped. And I didn’t have to let the batter rest for 30 minutes, goddammit. Thank you Bon Appetit, for providing such an easy recipe that was 1-2-3 simple. To all pastry and baking aficionados, I highly recommend it. Enjoy!