Madeleines — small, feather-light French sponge cakes — were made famous by Marcel Proust, who sang their praises in his novel Remembrance of Things Past. The tender cakes are baked in a special shell-shaped pan to create a beautiful, delicate presentation that’s perfect for spring.
Madeleines are best eaten fresh and slightly warm from the oven, and they are perfect for dipping in coffee or tea. Our version is brightened with sweet-tart lemon zest and juice; with their buttery texture, pretty shape and subtle flavor, they make a wonderful addition to a brunch or tea.
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/3 cup (3 oz./90 g) granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)
Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C). Using a pastry brush, heavily brush melted butter over each of the 12 molds in a madeleine pan, carefully buttering every ridge. Dust the molds with flour, tilting the pan to coat the surfaces evenly. Turn the pan upside down and tap it gently to dislodge the excess flour.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder twice. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the whole eggs and egg yolk, the granulated sugar and salt on high speed until pale, thick and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, add the vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in until just incorporated. Pour in the melted butter along the side of the bowl and gently fold in until incorporated.
Divide the batter among the prepared molds, using a heaping 1 1/2 Tbs. batter for each mold. Bake the madeleines until the tops spring back when lightly touched, 7 to 9 minutes.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 2 minutes. Using a small offset spatula, gently release the madeleines, place on the rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar and serve. Makes 12 madeleines.