Making madeleine's is so fast that one of my favourite restaurants, St John in London, will make these from scratch, to order, for dessert.
A madeleine, for those unaware, are wee shell-shaped cakes. My favourite way to serve them is simply; I like to dust them in icing sugar and plonk them alongside a tea or a coffee. As long as they’re fresh, that’s all they need. You’re supposed to use special madeleine trays, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Rules are made to be broken in baking, so you could quite easily make them using muffin, cupcake or wee bun tins. They’ll be every bit as nice, if not quite as pretty.
A good madeleine should be supremely light and fluffy on the inside, with a crisp and sweet coating. The flavour should be very buttery, but it should have plenty of vanilla too. So it is imperative that you use good vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. You should be able to find these in any big supermarket.
First, preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6. Grease your chosen tin with plenty of butter, then dust it with flour. Shake off any excess into the bin.
Into a saucepan, weigh your butter. Place it over a high heat and melt the butter. Continue heating, until your butter turns dark brown (almost, but not quite, burnt). Place your pan into a shallow sink that’s got a bit of cold water in it (to stop the butter burning).
Place your egg, sugar and honey into a mixing bowl and whisk them vigorously together (use an electric whisk if you have one). You want to whisk until several times their original size and nearly white in colour; this can take quite a wee while.
When your egg mixture is light enough (ie when you can’t be bother to whisk any more), gently mix in your flour followed by your melted butter, flour and vanilla. You want your mix to be pretty smooth.
Spoon the mix evenly into your madeleine tin and place straight in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown and spongy to touch. Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and dust with icing sugar to serve.
The biggest mistake you can make in madeleine-making is overbaking. They really don’t need long at all. Set a timer for at least a minute or two less than you think it will take. If they’re spongy, they’re done, and take them out.