Chuck Williams had a soft spot for these tender French sweets. Madeleine pans, also called plaques, were among the first baking pans that Chuck brought to America in the late 1950s, and they were the most popular items for a year or two in his store. In his recipe, sifting the flour before measuring ensures that the madeleines will have a light texture.
Chuck Williams’ Madeleines
1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) granulated sugar
2 tsp. orange flower water
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C). Generously butter a 12-mold madeleine pan.
In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the egg, granulated sugar and orange flower water for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture has quadrupled in bulk and is very thick, about 10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the flour mixture and then the softened butter into the egg mixture. Spoon the batter into the prepared molds, filling each one about three-fourths full.
Bake until the madeleines are lightly browned around the edges and on the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove the madeleines from the oven and immediately turn them out onto a wire rack. Using a fine-mesh sieve or a sifter, dust them with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm. Makes 12 madeleines.
Note: Madeleine pans typically have 8 or 12 shallow molds and come in tinned steel, metal with a nonstick finish, or pliable silicone. If you use a black nonstick madeleine pan, reduce the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) or shorten the baking time by a few minutes.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cooking at Home, Chuck Williams’ 100th Birthday; Limited Edition (Weldon Owen, 2015)