March 19, 2010

A measure of taste

A small container of leftover almond flour from another baking spree has been waiting patiently for me in the pantry, calling to me every time I walk in for some other ingredient, calling for something to be done with it. Good thing madeleines came to mind, even if one recipe only uses a small measure of the flour. I'll just have to make more, or think up other recipes that use it, since this venture barely dented the seemingly endless supply of what only appeared to be a small container of almond flour. And I though I was being crafty, perusing reviews and finding that some people prefer to make madeleines with almonds to boost the flavor and amp up the delicateness of cake flour, thinking, why not do the same? Ah well. At least the idea paid off in terms of a successful madeleine.

Like little cakes, eaten in three bites, madeleines are a classic French cookie of sorts, sponge-like in texture, although I'm not sure how traditional this recipe is, with my tweaking and spice additions. It's slightly coarser with the inclusion of the almond flour and subtly laced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, which match the subtlety of a dose of lemon zest, toned down by the buttery batter.  The zest is, by the way, a traditional ingredient.  Overall, the flavors blend beautifully into a fairly mild madeleine, although not quite as mild as the usual variety.  Like any cookie, they are très excellente paired with an afternoon tea or, even better, a well-crafted latte.

I would recommend using a metal mold to bake the madeleines in.  I'm not too sure about the floppy, silicon molds.  They look so foreign and so not like something I want my food cooked in.  Any way, the metal pans are more photogenic.  The madeleines come out nice and golden along the edges, too.  As long as you brush each individual mold with enough melted butter, the batter will not stick while baking, so the cookies should pull out easily.  You could also try dusting the molds with flour after brushing with butter, but that get's a little messy, so I don't even bother.  The butter works well enough on its own.

To make a regular madeleine, replace the quarter cup of almond flour with a quarter cup of cake flour and leave out the spices.

Adapted from Gourmet, September 2001

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted, cooled
1 cup sifted cake flour
¼ cup almond flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground allspice
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Set oven rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350° F. Brush a metal madeleine mold with some of the melted butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.

Beat eggs in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until light and foamy, about 1 minute, then beat in vanilla. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating constantly at high speed, and continue to beat until mixture is nearly tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Sift flour mixture in 3 or 4 batches over egg mixture, folding in each batch until just combined. Then fold in zest and remaining melted butter.

Spoon a rounded tablespoon of batter into each mold (they will be about two-thirds full) and bake, rotating pan halfway through baking time, until golden around edges and a tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 10 - 12 minutes total. Repeat with remaining batter, allowing pan to cool between batches and melting more butter to brush pan as needed.

Invert madeleines onto a rack and cool completely.  Dust scalloped sides with powdered sugar if you want.

Makes 2 dozen.

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