Lemon Madeleines are light, moist, and slightly crispy on the outside with intense lemon flavor. They are the perfect companion for afternoon tea.
I have been dying to make this little spongy shell-like cake with lemon flavor. You might think that I am exaggerating with how much I love Lemon Madeleines. However, I must say I fell in love immediately at the first bite. The inside is moist and spongy, while the edges are slightly crispy. Moreover, I love how intense the lemon flavor in this recipe. I was super excited to share one of my most favorite dessert recipes and I hope you will like it as much as I do.
Madeleine is a French bite-sized sponge cake with a distinctive delicate shell-like shape with a slight bump on its top side. The shape is acquired from being baked in special madeleine molds that imprint a shell-like pattern. The cake is somewhat lighter than sponge cake as air is suspended in the batter during mixing to provide volume.
Tips on Making Lemon Madeleines
1. Beat eggs and sugar properly
Madeleines are in the sponge cake category. They mostly get their volume from whipping the eggs. Firstly, you need room-temperature eggs as the eggs will disperse more evenly into the batter, trap more air, and make a lighter cake texture. If you forget to set your eggs out a few hours before you start, you can sit them in a bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes. After beating the eggs with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer until foamy, beat in the sugar little by little until the egg mixture becomes thick and pale. The clue is when the beater is raised, the batter should fall back like a ribbon into the bowl. If you don’t get it to this stage, your madeleines will be dense and will not have much rise.
2. Do not overmix the batter
In a separate bowl, toss the dry ingredients together. Then, fold them into the beaten egg mixture. As not to deflate the air in the batter, add in the melted butter little by little into the mixture. You need to pay attention to avoid over mixing the batter so that your madeleines do not get dense and tough.
3. Chill the batter
Madeleine batter needs to chill out in the refrigerator for about 1 hour before baking. Letting the batter rest in the refrigerator helps in creating a taller bump, which is a signature characteristic in madeleines. The taller it is, the fluffier the cake. You can start to preheat the oven for 10 minutes before letting the batter out from the refrigerator and scooping it into the molds.
4. Choose the molds
There are so many kinds of madeleine molds material to choose from non-stick, aluminum, and silicone. Non-stick and silicone molds help to make unmolding and clean up easier. However, madeleines made with silicone molds will not brown like it should or crisp up the edges, while the ones made with non-stick molds come out too dark. I really recommend buying aluminum madeleine molds as they make madeleine pretty crispy with a light brownish color. You just need to grease and dust the molds with flour, and they should come out easily.
Can I bake madeleines in another pan? Yes, you can use a mini muffin pan, but the cake’s texture will be different. More importantly, you will not get the iconic shell-like shape on the bottom like how madeleines should be.
5. Freeze the molds
Getting that nice bump is the most challenging part of making perfect madeleines and I am still struggling at this part. The bump is like the most important feature in madeleines. Freezing the pans for 10 minutes will make madeleine more likely to form the classic bump on the back. After that, fill the pans and put them into the oven immediately. Do not worry if your madeleines do not have the bump as the texture and flavor are exactly the same.