These petite, sponge-like cakes are baked in ribbed, scallop-shaped cake moulds. They vary in size and are usually flavoured with lemon, orange or vanilla. It is thought they may have been named after Madeleine Palmier, a nineteenth century French pastry cook.


  • 125 g ( oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 170 g (6 oz/¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 185 g ( oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • icing (confectioners’) sugar, to dust


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Lightly grease a 12-hole madeleine tin or shallow patty pan. Lightly dust the tin with flour and shake off any excess.
  2. Sift the flour three times onto baking paper. Combine the eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water, and beat the mixture using a whisk or electric beaters until thick and pale yellow. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to beat the mixture until cooled slightly and increased in volume. Add the flour, butter and orange zest to the bowl and gently fold in with a metal spoon until just combined.
  3. Spoon the mixture carefully into the madeleine holes. Bake for 10–12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Carefully remove from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar and eat on the day of baking