Sunday, 3 August 2008

English Madeleines

Many people have written about the differences between the English and the French but nothing illustrates it quite so well as the humble Madeleine. How to make this plain little sponge interesting and memorable?

French person: I know, I shall bake it in a sea shell shaped tin giving it an elegant and simple beauty. It will sit looking exquisite in the saucer of the coffee cup and have to power to make the eater remember things involuntarily.
English person: I know, I shall smother it in jam and roll it in coconut.

It makes me proud to be English.

Here is the Genoese sponge, cooling on a tray waiting to be bathed in jam and coconut:

Coating a Madeleine needs to be an organised process, and I am nothing if not organised (the jam heating in a saucepan is just out of shot):

Madeleines enjoyed the height of their popularity in the Victorian era but seem to be on the wane these days. I can’t recall the last time I saw an English Madeleine in a cake shop which is a real shame as they are delicious.

The ultimate comfort food cake, I love the soft sponge and sweet jam given extra texture and flavour by desiccated coconut. The cake is topped off with a glace cherry.

Such a pretty little cake:

Traditionally Madeleines are made in dariole moulds, which are steep sided moulds not dissimilar in shape to a thimble, but would work in any small deep mould you have.

So, did the English Madeleine have the power to make the eater remember things? It certainly did, after only one bite I remembered just how much I love sponge with jam and coconut!

For the cake:
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self raising flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the topping:
6 tablespoons raspberry jam
200g desiccated coconut – this is an approximate amount
6 glace cherries

How to make:

- Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan oven 140°C/325°F/Gas mark 3.
- Grease 12 dariole moulds with either cake release or butter.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Do not skimp on this stage as it’s the key to a lovely sponge.
- Gradually add the eggs and flour until fully combined and you have a smooth, thick batter.
- Add the vanilla and stir well.
- Spoon the batter into the dariole moulds. Fill each one about two-thirds full.
- Stand the moulds on an oven tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly. This is a Genoese sponge mix and I find it always takes longer to cook than other sponges; possible as it’s a dense texture. Don’t be alarmed if it takes 30 minutes.
- When baked, leave to cool on a wire rack. When they are cool enough to handle, level the surface of the sponge using a knife, and turn out of the moulds. Leave to cool completely.
- When cold, brush each sponge all over with some warmed jam and roll in desiccated coconut. I found this easiest to achieve by holding the sponge on a fork – it allowed me easy coverage, even to the bottom, with my brush and meant my fingers didn’t get sticky and make a mess of the coconut!
- Top with half a glace cherry.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


Anamika:The Sugarcrafter said...

dear caked crusader
thats looks so lovely and my son would have immediately grabbed too ! thanks for posting the recipe.

glamah16 said...

I think the English ones are more enticing. Did the Australian lamington come from this?

Holler said...

These looks so pretty, I definitely like your way best!

Ling's Passion said...

I love these Madeleines. Find them much more interesting than the French ones. But I wonder what's the difference between Madeleines and Lamingtons?

Michaela said...

You definitely have a dalek thing going on don't you? They look fantastic. Oh and as for the pear and ginger cake, I don't have any pears, but have lots of plums so will let you know how it goes on!

Cakelaw said...

How wonderful - I didn't even know there was such a thing as an English madeleine before (nor a French one until I started blogging). These are very cute.

April said...

I saw English Madeleines in a tea shop in Stratford on Avon on Saturday - and yes they took me back years!!

April xx

Rosie said...

Oh I adore English madeleines C.C. and yes they are the ultimate comfort food cake!! All that scrummy sponge, jam, coconut and a cherry on top who could resist...... lol .... not I ;)

Rosie x

daphne said...

How lovely! They look so sweet. Good for a cup of tea. =)

A_and_N said...

Moist, fluffy, delicious, mouthwatering and delightful! Those are the words that come into my mind after looking at the Madeleines :)

Cakespy said...

Oh, they're wonderful! Not only delicious sounding, but so cute!! And you know I am a sucker for cute!

Swati: Sugarcraft India said...

This is the ultimate goody.. looks so pretty and tempting.. am gonna try this soon :))

Emiline said...

They are pretty little cakes!

I wasn't familiar with English madeleines. I like that they're coated with coconut. Mmm.

Dee said...

Great post!
I'll leave the involuntary memories to Proust, thanks. And may I have some more jam on mine, please?

By the way, I just got the similarity between Madeleines and Lamingtons. Duh!

Big Boys Oven said...

waqnlahahahah this looks so cute!

Margaret said...

Just love 'em! I think they look so pretty.
I use the recipe in the Bero book - and they are always fabulous.

Anonymous said...

I made a big tower of these lovelies for my wedding and instead of cutting the cake, the groom took a bite of the first cherry - novel

Anonymous said...

I haven't made these for ages! They used to sell them in Percy Ingles (well the ones in greater London at least) but they stopped doing them about a year ago. It's nice to see that people still make them =D

Anonymous said...

Hi Cake Crusader,

Ur English madelienes look awesome! Can u please advise what is the Brand and size ( ml/ oz ) of dariole moulds u used?

Thks n regards,

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Susanna

I believe it was these:

Happy baking!

Anonymous said...

Thks for the info!:)


Pauline said...

I was looking for an explanation on the difference between them and us, for a friend on Foodbuzz - loved yours. Made them last week, why are they so rare now?

Ranjini said...

My grandmother used to make these all the time. She passed away a couple of years ago and we were looking through her recipe book and only found a roughly written ingredients list. I've tried to find a Madeleine recipe online, and only came across the French variety (we even thought my grandmother must have created this recipe because we couldn't find it anywere) but finally i found this! I'm so happy!! I can finally make these and savour the taste and memories of what my wonderful grandmother made for us all those years ago!

megmerrilies said...

I love this post. I had a discussion earlier today with my 89yr young Dad who started asking me about cakes he used to bake for us when Mum was in hospital(or resting up after) having one of my siblings (I am No2 of 10). We reminisced about 'cream horns' and I mentioned 'madeleines' describing pyramid shaped sponges coved in jam and coconut but he said no madeleines were small shell-like cakes!!!! Later I looked on-line and found something called a 'coconut castle' which I sent him and then my Sister sent him an email with a link to your post!!!! I can taste them still and it is probably 50years or more since I tasted them. Thank you

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Megmerrilies

Thanks for sharing your lovely memory! These are English madeleines; your father is thinking of the French madeleines which are indeed shell-shaped

Happy baking

Rubella Clapton said...

Percy Ingle bakers in Hackney and Leyton still sell them. They are my favourite cakes from when I was a kid.

MiddleSisterG said...

My little sister called English Madeleines "Dougal Cakes" - one had fallen over on the tray in a cake shop window. It looked rather like Dougal, the sheep dog in the 'Magic Roundabout' so Dougal cakes they have always been for me!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog post. I have shared the link with an online tea group that I participate in.

I was not familiar with the English madeleine until today. (I am American, married to a Brit living in England.) We were at our local W.I. May Fair and I saw them on the baked goods table. The lady who baked them told me they were madeleines. We bought a couple, brought them home and had them with a cup of tea. Lovely! I then did some research online, which led me to your blog.

Khyber said...

Quite exraordinary!
My local bakery at New Milton in Hampshire has recently been taken over by some continentals - in the words of Noel Coward; "you know the type; oily!" - and there, while I was purchasing one of a number of wonderfully new types of bread on offer, I noticed a tray of English Madeleines. I too, hadn't seen nor had one for many years and took an albeit square one home for my lunch today. I then looked it up on the www and here I am - wonderful!
I shall be having a go at making them myself too - perhaps for a Twelfth Night party.

Anonymous said...

where can I get the dariole molds plse? are the silicone ones any good as I am worried they will stick and I wont be able to get them out.

Chris - Southampton

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Chris

Amazon have a great selection of metal dariole moulds.
I don't like silicon moulds for deep shapes like this.

Happy baking

Anonymous said...

I got my moulds and made some this morning, half of them were perfect but some of them stuck to the tin. I used margarine to brush the tin should I have floured them as well. Also should I have left them until they were cold before I put the jam on as when I put the jam on the good ones nearly broke up. Please advise
Chris - Southampton

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Chris

I tend to use cake release spray - particularly for small moulds like this. You can find it in most supermarkets now in the home baking section.

Always let sponge cool as it is very fragile when warm.

Hope this helps

Linda said...

I love this page! I really hope you are still battling the evil forces of the Cakeless People!