I’d like to think that those evocative morsels baked by Françoise and served at Combray were perhaps made to a recipe hardly different from this one from Audot’s La Cuisinière de la campagne et de la ville. This book, with its splendidly spirited introduction, surely had an enormous influence on domestic cooking in nineteenth-century France. First published in 1818, it appeared in eighty-four editions between then and 1902. The copy that I was so fortunate to study, I read and cooked from in the same kitchen in which the book had inspired la bonne when cooking for the curé a century earlier.
Cream the butter in a warmed bowl and gradually beat in the sugar with the lemon zest. Beat in the egg yolks with the orange-flower water.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture alternately with the sieved flour.
Brush clarified butter into the shell-shaped moulds of a madeleine tin. Place
Bake in a moderate oven (Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F) for about 15 minutes or until golden and the little cakes are just starting to shrink from the tin. Cool in the tin for 1 minute and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Wash the tin with hot water only, dry and brush with clarified butter before baking the next batch of cakes.
These days in France, madeleines are coated on one side with chocolate or are pumped full of jam but they are still best, freshly baked and plain. Serve with lime tea, of course.
Shell-shaped tins for baking madeleines are available from
© 1987 Geraldene Holt. All rights reserved.