If you manage to get hold of a bag of Meyer lemons, you will know how precious they are. That is why I fully utilise these lemons inside out and top to bottom. While making the Meyer lemon cream, I needed to use an extra lemon for the juice. Before I juiced the fruit, I saved the zest and kept it in the freezer for later use.
If you are wondering what we can do with the zest of one lemon, there is a lot that can be done. The zest of a citrus has a more intense flavour as compared to the juice. Unlike the Eureka or Lisbon lemons we commonly get from the supermarket, Meyer lemon has a floral fragrance that lingers and gives bakes a vibrant and refreshing flavour. With my lemon zest in the freezer, I decided to go back to the classics and make some Meyer lemon madeleines.
I always feel that madeleines are one of those under-rated bakes. Bakeries and cafés are often stocked with cookies, cakes and muffins – to see madeleines in the offering is a rare sight indeed. The great news is that making madeleines is really very easy. No hard-to-find ingredient or special technique required – the only thing I would say that would be super helpful is a madeleine pan*. The pan gives madeleines their distinctive shelled shaped underbelly and the bumpy hump.
This particular recipe that I am sharing really allows the Meyer lemon to shine, giving the madeleines that intense lemony flavour which helps to cut through the richness of this petite sponge cake. The bonus of this recipe is that you are required to make the batter the night before. This also means that in the morning, you get this beautiful cake for breakfast, and I am definitely not one who will reject cakes for breakfast.
Meyer lemon madeleines
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours)
Dorie Greenspan is one of my favourite cookbook authors. Her recipe for madeleines is easy to follow and I have tried it many times and it has not failed me. It is important to let the batter stay in the fridge for as long as possible (overnight is best), this will help to give the madeleines their signature hump.
Makes 12 madeleines
80g all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
55g granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, room temperature (around 54g to 56g per egg without shell)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
85g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
In a medium-sized bowl, add in the flour, baking powder and salt, and mix well. Set aside.
In another medium-sized bowl, add in the sugar and lemon zest. Using a fork, rub the lemon zest into the sugar, making sure that the zest is coating the sugar thoroughly. By doing this, you are infusing the lemony flavour into the sugar. The finished sugar should be moist and fragrant.
In the bowl with sugar lemon zest, add in the eggs. Using either a whisk or a hand mixer, beat the eggs into the sugar until the mixture turns foamy and pale yellow. The purpose is to dissolve the sugar, so whisk as hard as you can. This should take around 5-8 minutes by hand, 2-3 minutes with the hand mixer. Once the mixture turns pale yellow, add in the vanilla extract and mix well.
Add in half of the flour mixture into the sugar, lemon and eggs mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold in the flour. When you fold in the flour, pretend you are writing the number 8 with the spatula – I find this method helps to incorporate any ingredients really quickly without losing much air volume. When it is almost fully incorporated, add in the rest of the flour mixture, mixing well until there are no flour streaks.
Add in half of the cooled melted butter into the batter, and gently fold it in. When it is almost fully incorporated, add in the rest of the melted butter. The finished batter will have the consistency of a thick cream.
Once the batter is done, cover the surface of the batter with a cling wrap (to prevent any skin from forming) and leave it in the fridge for a minimum 3 hours, best overnight, before baking.
The next day
Half an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 200oC and place the rack in the centre of the oven. In addition, have a wire rack on standby for the finished madeleines.
If you are using a non-stick madeleine pan, brush lightly with vegetable oil. If you are using madeleine moulds, or a metal madeleine pan, butter thoroughly and dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Should you use individual madeleine moulds, place them on a baking tray before putting them in the oven. I personally don’t really like to use silicone madeleine pans as it does not brown the underbelly as well as the metal ones.
When the oven hits 200oC, remove the batter from the fridge. The chilled batter will be quite thick and sticky – there is no need to stir it. You can use it directly.
Using two tablespoons, spoon the batter into the moulds and fill it to almost to the top. Place the madeleine pan in the oven and bake it for 10-12 minutes or until they turn golden and the hump springs back when touched. If you are unsure, you can pierce it with a wooden toothpick – it should come out clean or with a just bit of crumb.
Once the madeleines are baked, remove the pan from the oven. Using a wooden toothpick, gently pry the madeleine from the pan/mould. Do this quickly so that condensation will not happen or else you will be left with a soggy cake.
Transfer the madeleines unto a wire rack to cool. Make sure the hump is facing down and the scallop top is facing up.
If you have additional batter and need to bake a second batch, make sure the pan is properly cooled before you use. Once the pan is cooled, prep them as instructed above.
Before serving, dust a bit of icing sugar on top of the madeleines.
*Most kitchenware stores will stock madeleine pans. I got mine from Phoon Huat. I’ve also seen it for sale at Daiso.