“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I want to begin with a spoiler alert for the romantics among you. I have been known, usually without malice, to burst a bubble or two. Tonight I fear I'm going to do that to lovers of Proust and his beloved madeleines. I suspect that everyone knows that the madeleine is the shell-shaped confection that inspired his legendary reverie in Remembrance of Things Past. You'll recall, I'm sure, the scene in the book where the narrator dips a madeleine into a cup of tea. Bits of the cookie settle into the tea and when it is stirred, a spoonful contains crumbs that release the flood of memories that fill the rest of the novel. There is one small problem. That doesn't happen when you soak a typical madeleine in tea. There are purists who, in the interest of transparency, test such things and they say the Proustian madeleine does not exist. I suspect he used Proustian poetic license, but some guys just can't get a break. It seems that scholars agree that an early version of Remembrance of Things Past was inspired by a piece of toast. I can't write much about toast, but I can share this wonderful and unusual recipe for madeleines with you. It is unusual because the soft cookies are leavened with yeast. Don't let that scare you off. They are really easy to make. I really love these petite cakes and I consider the recipe I'm featuring tonight to be a treasure. Don't stress about the use of European butter if it is not readily available. I often make these using standard sweet butter. While European butter has 3% more butterfat than brands typically found in the supermarket, the madeleines made with 80% will bedelicious as well. The recipe that follows comes from Saveur magazine.
Madeleines a l’ancienne - Old-Fashioned Madeleines
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 lemon, for zest
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsalted European-style butter, melted + butter for molds
salt to taste
1) In a pastry bowl, combine whole eggs and sugar until mixture turns white and sugar is completely dissolved.
2) Add flour, salt, and yeast with a spatula. Then add lemon zest. Add melted butter. Set aside.
3) Brush madeleine molds with melted butter, then dust with flour, shaking out any excess.
4) Using a pastry bag or a spoon, fill each madeleine mold 3/4 full.
5) Set filled pans aside and let them rest for at least 20 minutes. During this time pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
6) Cook for 8 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes. Turn cookies out and continue to cool on a wire rack. Yield: 24 to 30 madeleines.
1) Let madeleines sit for 2 hours before serving. Store in a dry place.
2) For best results let dough rest for 2 hours before placing in molds.
One Year Ago Today: Sweet and Spicy Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks
Two Years Ago Today: Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
Three Years Ago Today: Game Day Chili-Mac Skillet