Monday, May 31, 2021

Lemon Madeleines #Recipe by Maya Corrigan

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., a holiday when we remember those who have died serving our country. I'm sharing a recipe for a sweet associated with memories--Madeleines. A Madeleine is a French tea cake with a distinctive shell shape. It has ridges on one side and small hump on its other side. Denser than most cakes but less chewy than cookies, it's perfect to eat with tea or coffee. To bake Madeleines, you need a specialized pan with shell molds.

The French writer Marcel Proust made the association between Madeleines and memory in his fictionalized memoir: A Remembrance of Things Past. When he takes a bite of a Madeleine dipped in tea, long forgotten memories of his childhood come back. I had to read the first volume of Proust's 7-volume memoir for a class, and was never tempted to read the other six books, but the idea he illustrates at great length stuck with me: the smell and taste of something in the present can take you back in time and bring the past to life. 

Has the smell or taste of food ever touched off memories back for you? 


Yield 24 Madeleines

Note: If you have only one mold for 12, bake the Madeleines in two batches, using half the batter each time. 

2 eggs
1 lemon for ½ teaspoon of freshly squeezed juice and ½ teaspoon lemon zest (plus 1 tablespoon of juice if glazing the Madeleines)
1 cup confectioners sugar (plus ½ cup if glazing the Madeleines when they’re done)
¾ cup of sifted cake flour/self-rising flour (If you have all-purpose flour, add ¼ teaspoon of baking powder to it before sifting.)
½ cup butter, melted but no longer hot

Equipment: Madeleine baking pan(s) and a zester

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Before mixing the ingredients:

  • Butter and flour the Madeleine molds
  • Zest the lemon
  • Melt the butter, setting it aside to cool
Beat the eggs with lemon juice and zest at high speed for 3 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat the mixture for 5 minutes. The long beating time makes the Madeleines fluffy. 

Fold in the sifted flour little by little. Then fold in the butter, stirring until it’s blended with the batter.

Spoon the batter into the shell molds, so they’re 3/4 full. Don’t smooth out the batter. It will fill the shell evenly as it bakes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until the edges are brown. The tops should be golden yellow and spring back. Add another minute or two in the oven if needed.

Cool the pan for 1 minutes, then loosen the Madeleines around the edges with a knife. If they don’t come out easily, you may need to tap the bottom of the pan. Cool them on a rack shell side up.

If you're baking a second batch, wait until the pan has cooled down before buttering and flouring the molds again.

Note: You can serve Madeleines plain or dress them up by sprinkling them with confectioners’ sugar, coating them with a lemon glaze, or dipping one end in melted chocolate.

Apply the glaze while Madeleines are still warm. For lemon glaze, whisk together ½ cup confectioners sugar and 1 tablespoon strained lemon juice until smooth. Coat them with the glaze using a pastry brush. Then continue to cool the Madeleines until the glaze hardens.

The photo below shows the ridged side of plain Madeleines. The first photo in the post shows the reverse side of lemon-glazed Madeleines.

Maya Corrigan writes the Five-Ingredient Mysteries featuring café manger Val and her live-wire grandfather solving murders in a Chesapeake Bay town. Maya lives in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Before writing crime fiction, she taught American literature, writing, and detective fiction at Northern Virginia Community College and Georgetown University. When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, travel, trivia, cooking, and crosswords.
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Five-Ingredient Mysteries in Order

1. By Cook or by Crook: Val and Granddad adjust to a new life spiced with a local murder.
2. Scam Chowder: Granddad is in the soup after a scammer targeting retirees goes face down in his chowder.
3. Final Fondue:  Val, Granddad, and their house guests plumb the dark side of love.
4. The Tell-Tale Tarte: Murder among Poe fans leads to a local “House of Usher” and Poe’s grave in Baltimore.
5. S’more Murders: The Titanic memorial dinner Val caters aboard a yacht has a fatal outcome.
6. Crypt Suzette: A haunted house and a haunting manuscript help Val solve a murder among aspiring writers.
7. Gingerdead Man: A Christmas Carol ghost commits murder during a Dickens of a holiday festival.

“Granddad is a hoot and his jobs as a food reviewer and part-time detective provide endless possibilities for fun and murder . . . Charming.” —Kirkus Review

Plenty of red herrings, mixed motives, and recipes for foodies make for a spirited holiday cozy.”—Kirkus Review

“Suspects abound and the puzzle solution is deftly handled in this charming cozy . . . With recipes included, this is definitely a starter for fans of Diane Mott Davidson, Lou Jane Temple, and Virginia Rich.” – Library Journal 

Has the smell or taste of food ever touched off memories for you? 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. As you get older, memories of past meals shared or prepared by loved ones crop up more it seems. My Mom's love of being in the kitchen preparing food for her loved ones makes the smells and memories strong at times. Especially anything with yeast which reminds me of her delicious rolls and cinnamon rolls all made from scratch and oh so yummy.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thank you for your comment, Kay. It's a double treat when the smell of baking brings back memories.

    2. In Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu,the main character bites into a Madeleine and it brings back memories, hence the title "In search of times past." And that's all I know because I've never read it, I've only read about it!

    3. You are not alone, Peg. Many more people are familiar with that passage than have read the book.

  3. Oh, how I love madeleines! And Proust. “Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure.” (But alas, my French is not nearly good enough to read him in his original language.)

    For me, however, smell is a far stronger trigger of memories than taste. One whiff of certain smells and I'm transported back to a certain time or place in my life...

    1. Smells also trigger my memories more than tastes do. Maybe because it's hard to duplicate a taste.

  4. When I was in high school I went to Ireland on a trip with my mother. The hotel we stayed in in Dublin had a back elevator that was more convenient for our rooms. We had to walk past the kitchens to get to it and there was a distinctive aroma of food back there.
    Some years later I got a package of Mrs. Paul's apple fritters (I think that was what they were-it's a long time ago now). My first bite transported me back to the hall in the Dublin hotel!