Friday, August 23, 2013

The Traditional French Madeleine

      My adventure has come to an end. I returned to the United States a few days ago to be met with a new apartment to move into and the first shifts in production at the new job. So really, the adventure has not come to an end, but rather shifted massive gears to a new life in Denver. I have to say, traveling is wonderful, but coming home is truly a treat. I'm living in a comfortable little apartment with a wonderful roommate, and I could not be happier to call this new place mine. One of the most exciting things about the new place is the kitchen. It is over twice the size of my old ridiculously cramped space for cooking! I can spin and dance and do yoga and take naps on the floor and comfortably fit friends in it while I am there too! How glorious it is. (Ok, so I admit I may not need or even want to do all of those things in said kitchen but the possibilities just make me giddy).

        With such a wonderful work space just feet from my bedroom and kitchen supplies being the first thing I unpacked, I quickly set into baking upon my return. Having just spent three and a half weeks going around France, I obviously wanted to make a French classic right away. (Let's be honest, you were all expecting this.) So for my first baking experience in my new place, I decided on the madeleine. It is buttery cake like cookie, baked traditionally in a fanned shell shape mold. It is staple sweet everywhere over that delicious and beautiful country.
        During my travels, I knew I wanted my main souvenir to be a French cookbook in English. I found a copy of "Bocuse in Your Kitchen" at a bookshop in Lyon. Paul Bocuse is the French cook of cooks, the culinary genius, the teacher of Julia Child, and food authority. I thought to myself, if Paul Bocuse can enter my kitchen through this cookbook, then gosh darn-it, I had to have it! I eagerly bought it after flipping through some of the decadent and mouth watering dishes, and carried it home, wrapped up in my arms like my new cookbook baby that it is! These madeleines came from the dessert section and are as trusted of a recipe as you can get as far as I am concerned. Out of respect for the greatness of who this Chef is, I did not change a thing and I do not regret it.
Traditional madeleines use this but you can easily sub orange or lemon zest 
         The cookies are moist and spongy. First out of the oven, they have a crisp and lightly browned crust that becomes softer to blend in with the rest of the texture of the cookie with cooling time. I enjoyed them both ways so make sure to indulge at all stages :) It is essentially a little cake in a cookie shape, and flavored with a hint of orange. They are rich and buttery, but so light. Popping a few is quite easy, and I'll be surprised if you can resist! The French usually eat sweeter things for breakfast and honestly, I can't imagine a better time to enjoy this mini treats than with your cup of coffee in the morning. Plus, they are about as simple as it could get to make. So invite some friends over, whip these up in the time it take them to get to your house, and enjoy a relaxing breakfast of bitter coffee and sweet least that is what I will be doing when we get our kitchen table in. 
Oven Temp: 400 F

Materials: If you have a madeleine tray, awesome. If not, I did half my batch in little muffin tins and they still turned out great! So grease up either and use those.

150 g (a generous 2/3 C.) Sugar
3 Eggs
1 TBSP Orange Flower Water OR 1 TBSP Orange or Lemon Zest
150 g (1 1/2 sticks) Butter
150 g (a generous C.) All Purpose Flour

1. Preheat your oven. Melt butter and allow it time to cool.
You should beat all of this by hand. I just broke my normal whisk in the move so I used the electric beater whisk. It looks like it was done with a hand mixer, but it was not!
2. Meanwhile, beat sugar, eggs and orange water or zest together with a whisk until homogenized.
3. When butter is cool, whisk it into the mixture.
4. Whisking constantly, add flour in small increments, until it is well combined. It will form a thickened batter. (I did mine in about 5 or 6 small additions.) 
5. Fill madeleine molds until mostly full or muffin tin cups about one-fourth of the way. 
6. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until a rich golden brown color develops. 
6. Remove by turning cookies out onto a rack, and let them cool slightly before digging in.

See how ridiculously easy that was? And how delicious they look? Wait till you smell them...and taste them. Such simple ingredients, I bet you have them on hand. So go, get off this computer, and make them. Now. Seriously, its madeleine time. Go. 

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