What I love about baking is the fact that recipes are much more of a chemical formula. Exact amounts of flour, sugar, leaveners, fat and liquid involved. Adding a little more or a little less of any of these key ingredients could quite possibly throw off the formula, and result in a less than perfect outcome. And because these elements change in the baking process, tasting during the steps will not help in the finished product. And because of the precision involved in baking, pastry chefs tend to be much more disciplined with regard to their formulas.
This does not necessarily mean that baking is easy! Many say that baking is like chemistry and therefore the dosage of the ingredients is particularly accurate.
For example, if you look at the basic recipe for macarons, it is almost always the same, followed by some tips and tricks, depending on everyone's experience and this is what makes all the difference.
And as there's always an exception to the rule, I have been very intrigued by the diversity of recipes when it comes to madeleines, my favorite French shell-shaped cookie!
Some bakers use baking powder, some not, some lower the oven temperature after formation of the hump, some not, some leave the dough rest in the fridge, others do not and, worst of all, the proportions of the ingredients in each recipe seem to obey no rules!
After trying lots of recipes, I finally adopted this version. I enjoy these as simple desserts, but they are great with tea or coffee too. They taste like mini cakes, so soft and rich.
Ingredients (yield 24 madeleines)
110 g (1 stick) unsalted butter
extra melted butter for the molds
4 eggs, room temperature
85 g (3/8 cup) sugar
130 g (1 cup) flour
1 tsp (8 g) baking powder
40 g ( 2 tbsp) pine tree honey
a pinch of salt
Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer.
Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat until it's brown and gives off a deliciously nutty aroma, around 10 minutes. Strain (you want to leave the solids behind). Add the honey and let it cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 5 minutes until frothy and thickened.
Sprinkle the sifted flour and the baking powder on top of the egg batter, and gently fold in. Now fold in the butter mixture. Only stirring enough to bring everything together.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 2/3 -3/4 full. I use a small cup filled with batter to keep things clean and manageable, it is easier than using a spoon.
Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the cakes just feel set and the edges are golden brown.
Remove from oven and tilt immediately out onto a cooling rack. Cool on racks.
Madeleines au miel de sapin
110 g de beurre doux
+ extra beurre fondu pour les moules
85 g de sucre
130 g de farine
8 g de levure chimique
40 g de miel de sapin
une pincée de sel
Beurrez et farinez votre moule à madeleines et mettez-le au frais.
Faites fondre le beurre sur feu doux, dans une casserole, jusqu'a coloration, env. 10 mn, puis versez dans un petit bol. Ajoutez le miel.
Dans un grand bol, battez les oeufs, le sucre et le sel à l’aide d’un fouet environ 5 mn.
Ajoutez la farine, et la levure tamisées puis mélangez jusqu’à ce que la pâte soit bien lisse.
Ajoutez le beurre tiédi et mélangez bien.
Couvrez le bol et placez-le au frigo minimum 1 heure. Vous pouvez le garder toute une nuit.
Préchauffez le four à 180ºC.
Remplissez les alvéoles du moule à madeleines aux 2/3 et enfournez pour 12-14 minutes. Les madeleines doivent être dorées.
Laissez tiédir, puis démoulez en tapant le moule sur une grille.
Laissez refroidir sur la grille, et dégustez.