Glosless Baking for Hopeless Nostalgics

I found this classy lil' Madeleine pan at Jolanta Interiors (2368 Bloor Steet West)

No ham in this household, no chocolate bunnies or spring lambs over the long Easter weekend.  Just a lot of butter, inevitably leading to a plate of beautifully named tea cakes: Madeleines.

Having never been to the French town of Commercy, where Madeleines are said to have originated, these spongy shell-shaped cakes remind me instead of Montreal, where my best friend Kat and I would sometimes sit in a small café dipping perfect Madeleines into our lattes.

These cakes make me miss home terribly, and everything that comes with it --the smell of dog doo on Mount Royal in the early springtime, the gleaming bottles of wine you could purchase even on Good Friday at the depanneur, but most of all my parents, sibling, sister-in-law, pets and girlfriends who are still living in the land of Je Me Souviens.

With the warm sun officially dragging me out of hibernation, but no expat cafés in view to nibble on Madeleines, I figured it was about time to reproduce this little french pleasure for myself.  I found a Madeleine pan (which gives these cakes their scalloped look) in the first cooking store that I walked into in Bloor West Village.  Simply owning a Madeleine pan makes me feel light and giddy.  I mean, you can only bake one thing in them.  How charmingly frivilous!

I guess it's only fitting that the simple recipe I found for baking Madeleines comes from The Joy of Cooking (75th Anniversary Edition) by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker, a classic cookbook some of my girlfriends chipped in and bought me a year ago.  I can crack open this book in anticipation of the next time we will all be together.

They really aren't much to look at until they start to rise in the oven. What a transformation!
Madeleines (Makes about 24):
adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour 
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cups butter, soft and cut into cubes
3 full eggs, 1 egg yolk
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 450F (My oven is really hot, so I heated mine to 425F).
2. Combine all of your dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
3. In another bowl,  cream your butter with a wooden spoon until it's a smooth consistency (you can quicken this process by dipping the bottom of your bowl in hot water).
4. In yet another bowl, combine eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla and mix until it's a palish yellow.
5. Sift your dry ingredients over the top of the egg mixture and fold in with a spatula or spoon.
6. Add a bit of this new egg mixture to your butter bowl, and then fold the entire butter mixture into the egg mixture. Note: I have no flippin' idea why the butter is kept separate from everything until the very end, but I can't argue with a classic cookbook lest my cakes come out looking deformed.
7. Grease your pan with vegetable oil and fill your maddy-cups about 3/4 full with the batter.
8. Bake for approx 8 minutes, until the edges are slightly brown and the tops are golden yellow.
9. Let cool on a plate and brew yourself some coffee with warm milk and lavender sugar to enjoy with.

Maybe even put on a little John Denver music (ya, ya, ya...not very french) and let the sound of nostalgia seep into your pores while you repeat softly to yourself "Montreal, Je T'adore".

This is about as golden as I'll let my Madeleines get. I'd rather risk them being a little under-baked then too crispy.