Saturday, 12 January 2013

Baking challenge #16: Mary Berry's French madeleines

Mary Berry's French Madeleines, as baked by EJ
So it seems that the hectic nature of 2012 led to the apparent abandonment of my baking challenge, well - it's back! I will be continuing to bake my way through all of the recipes without images in Mary Berry's Baking Bible, reporting on my results right here. Way back in October 2011, as we returned from a glorious holiday in the South of France via Dieppe, I picked up a silicone madeline tray in a little cook shop. Since then I haven't heard the end of Owen asking me when I'm going to use it (which is fair enough, as it's been sitting in the cupboard for over a year now)- so it only seemed appropriate to quell his dissatisfaction and rekindle my education in the ways of the Berry in one fell swoop - by starting off with Mary Berry's French madeleine recipe.

Madeleines are light, buttery little bites of sponge, traditionally made in the shape of seashells. Mary Berry's French madeleine recipe is quick and easy to follow, I did worry about the amount of butter in the recipe, but the sponge has baked well. In Mary Berry's directions, she recommends filling the madeleine moulds until the mixture is 'just level with the tops' - this made me double take the recipe, as the ingredients include self raising flour and baking powder (so quite a lot of raising agent). My most successful madeleines of the batch were filled to very slightly below the tops of the mould (with 2mm breathing space). The madeleines are supposed to have a domed back, but if you overfill the cases the mixture can spread sideways as it heats, creating what I can only describe as an aesthetic catastrophe. 

The recipe also directs to grease the madeline tray and then dust with flour - if you use a silicone tray like I did, I would bypass this stage completely. The madelines contain so much butter that there was no way they were going to stick to the tray!

Unfortunately my silicone tray is very shallow, so the seashell crevices are very under-defined, they are very tasty, but I'll definitely be investing in a good heavy duty madeleine pan before I attempt this recipe again.

Madeleines, dusted with icing sugar

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