Madeleines! Such exquisite, delightful little buttery scallops, yet I hadn’t made them for years. As I was searching for my recipe, and then mixing them up, a flood of Madeleine memories arose – and not entirely lovely memories. I recalled the first time I made them. It was many years ago, and Rebecca was quite little. It was a stunning summer day, bright and vivid with searing blue skies. Dennis had a friend visiting, and I no doubt was making them for afternoon tea. I am an inveterate licker of the mixing spoon, having, unlike many, no fear of raw eggs in the dough. This day was no exception. Yum! In another respect, however, this day was the exception. Minutes after I presented the dainty meal, I was in the bathroom suffering all sorts of misery. I was trying to be subtle about things for which there can be no real subtlety. I must have been reasonably subtle though, because I do not recall an outpouring of sympathy. I am guessing that Rebecca was not at home, because she surely would have insisted on sharing the damp dough, and even more surely, if not in the bathroom suffering with me, would have been in the bathroom with me, offering aid, assistance, and loving comfort.
Years later, when Rebecca was big, Rachael was little, and I was in nursing school, I was making them for a psychology class event. I have mentioned before I think, that when I am cooking and am nervous about the reception of my fare, everything I make tastes like sand. This was no exception. I tried one and it was a mouthful of grit. I was talking to my friend Godmommy on the phone as I worked, and she assured me that it was just my nerves. They had to be good. Reassuring, but not totally reassuring. Then Rebecca arrived home and tried one. “These are disgusting,” she said. “Are you really going to take them to your class?” Well, given that my class was in about a half an hour, I was. As you can imagine, I was filled with horror and dread. Once again, Godmommy, still on the line, was reassuring. She pointed out that Rebecca had been irked at me about something or other earlier, and so she too, probably had an emotionally induced taste impairment. I slunk off to my class, dreading the moment when everyone gagged on my presentation. Mirabile dictu! They were an enormous success and everyone wanted the recipe. Incidentally, this was the class in which I met Samos. Maybe my brilliant Madeleines were what made him want to be my friend.
1 cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ c butter
Zest of one lemon
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp rum
Grease and flour the Madeleine pans very well. Heat the oven to 400°.
Beat the eggs with the salt until they are stiff. Add in the sugar gradually, and beat some more. Add the vanilla and rum if you are using it. Fold in the flour, about a quarter a time. Add a quarter of the butter at a time. Mix it in well. Fill the pans about ¾ full and bake immediately. They take about 10 minutes and are done when they are golden with crispy edges. This will make about 18 medium sized madeleines.
To my surprise, I had no rum, so I used a little Grand Mariner instead. Probably that made them better.
I used a regular metal pan and a silicone pan which I borrowed from Rebecca. As you can see, the ones baked in the metal pans turned out nicer – evenly browned and no bubbles. Rebecca borrowed my metal pan when she made a vegan version and had the opposite experience. Her vegan Madeleines were delicious – maybe even better than my classic omnivore ones.