I’ve kinda been obsessed with madeleines ever since I went to England on a school gastronomic tour (yes that is a real thing). We had one free night where a few classmates and I went to Fergus Henderson’s restaurant St. John for dinner. I had his book The Complete Nose to Tail: A Kind of British Cooking which I had found to be an interesting read but not of much use at the time. I didn’t know what to expect other than the obvious well-cooked offal. That might not be the most exciting thing for some people but I was excited and so were my colleagues. When we arrived, I was taken aback by the simpleness of the decor. It was a large dining room with long tables in long rows, bare white walls with only a single line of coat hooks around the parameter. It was odd but as the first plates came out it made sense. It was about the simplicity of the food and in stripping the room it allows the diner to focus on the food. Dinner consisted of some classics like bone marrow with parsley salad and welsh rarebit but some oddities as well. I ate ox hearts that were out of this world. It was all without the frills of the more popular restaurants. No fluid gels, or foams or super intricate plating. It was simple as protein, sauce, and then a veg. I was amazed. Then came dessert. Out came this little plate of six sea-shelled shaped cakes. I remember these were what blew me away. Hot fresh madeleines in all their golden honey glory with their little bellies. I don’t think there has been anything better than that in my culinary career.
Thinking about this experience, last month I bought a madeleine pan in hopes of letting Nicole experience what I had at St. John. I’m not that skilled of a baker but I gave it a good try but they were not as good. I had used some crystalized honey thinking that it would make it better, but it just seized up and created honey chunks and a gritty texture. I wasn’t happy with them but Nicole was fired up. She had wanted me to do something crazy but I was set on having the plain ones in honor of the no-frills experience I had. She finally convinced me to do these pumpkin ones since it is October. My only condition was that we don’t over spice them and take away from their delicate flavor. So we landed on a molasses and pumpkin madeleines with a touch of cinnamon to make it fit the theme of this month.
Nicole did a really good job with these, far better than I could have done. I mean if I did them 100 times maybe they would be perfect. She managed to get the little round humps in them on her second attempt! That’s a sign of a perfectly cooked madeleine! I don’t know what she did and I think she is a wizard. If you don’t manage to get these bellies fear not! Belly-less madelines taste just as good and you’ll still end up eating the entire dozen.
I should also mention that we translated this recipe from weight (ie. grams and ounces) to imperial volume measurements (cups). We figured that not everyone has a scale but everyone in the United States has cups or tablespoons. I was having one of those days where I just got off of a 5 day straight work week. That’s 60+ hours for those not in the industry. My brain couldn’t figure out how to convert it easily. For those who wanted to know, 80 grams of flour is about 4/5 of a cup by weight. No one has 1/5 cup so that means you have to some measurement that everyone has. That is as simple as finding out how many tablespoons that are (16*(4/5)) or 12.8 tablespoons. That’s 3/4 of a cup plus .8 tablespoons (good luck measuring that) or just round up to 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon. I must have jotted down about 6 equations and crossed them all out in an attempt to make sense of it all. Meanwhile, Nicole just did it without thinking about it and she was right. I had just gotten the poo brain and gotten all confused. This is why you’ll see the weird measurements in this recipe. If you do have a scale we can give you the weight measurements if you want, just don’t be put off by them.
Oh! I should add, if you don’t have a madeleine pan, just use a muffin tin! We tested a few different pans out and the muffin tin was by far the winner!
Pumpkin MadeleinesPrint This
- 1/3 Cup Butter
- 3 TBS Pumpkin Puree
- 2 Eggs
- 6 TBS Castor Sugar*
- 1 TBS Molasses (or honey if you prefer)
- 3/4 Cup + 1 TBS Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
Brown the butter by cooking it in a saucepan on med-low heat until it turns amber in color. Let cool. Mix with pumpkin puree. Set aside.
In a mixer bowl, add the eggs, sugar, and molasses. Beat until pale and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Mix the dry into the egg mixture until almost incorporated. Add in the butter/pumpkin mixture and stir until the batter is smooth. Set in the fridge overnight or a minimum of one hour.**
Once your batter has chilled, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour your madeleine pan.*** Evenly spoon or pipe the batter into the tin. This recipe will make exactly 12!
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden brown, the bellies have puffed, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Best if eaten hot/warm, so get to it!!
*If you can't find castor sugar (or just don't want to buy it), just buzz up some sugar in a food processor or blender until it is super fine. THEN measure your tablespoons. We used a Magic Bullet for this and it worked perfectly! **If you have a piping bag lying around, hold your batter in it. It will be MUCH easier to squeeze into the pan. ***If you don't have one, use a muffin tin!
I hope you now get to experience a little bit of my amazing Madeline memory as your cakes come out of the oven. Once you’ve had them hot, you’ll soon realize how superior they are to room temperature or baked the previous day. Nicole and I agree that these are best eaten within 10 minutes, but are still good the next day warmed gently in a low oven. If you’ve been following our October pumpkin series fear not! Our last one will not be a sweet treat but rather something to calm your savory cravings.
Until next week,