In it’s ideal state, food should be a feast for all of the senses. Taste is almost always at the core and rightly so, as it is usually the flavour of things that keeps us coming back for more. The visual, aromatic and textural side of food serves more to transform what could be just fuel for the body into an actual experience to be savoured. For me, this sensory awakening often begins way before the food reaches the table.
While making the following recipe, all sorts of fabulousness occurs – from the uplifting aromas released in the zesting of citrus, to watching eggs and sugar pale in colour to the prettiest lemon, beaten to the point of textural change, smooth and thickened to fall in soft ribbons. Scooped like mousse into their moulds, only to waft deliciousness through the air as they bake.
The pleasure I derive from being in the kitchen comes really from working with a kind of ‘magical’ science that allows ingredients to be melded, contorted, caressed and tortured to create something altogether new and ambrosial.
The perfect Madeleine will have a slightly crispy exterior that gives way to a soft citrus-scented inside…
Zesty Lime French Madeleines | Gather and Graze
- 180g/¾ cup Unsalted Butter
- 4 Free-Range Eggs
- 220g/1 cup Caster Sugar
- Pinch of Salt
- Grated Zest of 2 limes (or 2 lemons)
- 225g/1½ cups Plain Flour (+ a little extra for dusting the moulds)
In a small saucepan over gentle heat, melt the butter, then allow to cool to room temperature.
Lightly grease a madeleine tin with a little of the melted butter, then dust with flour, shaking the tin to remove any excess. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
In an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, salt and citrus zest until the mixture thickens and becomes a pale yellow colour. Sift the flour and fold that into the mixture gently, in 3 lots. Next, add the melted butter in about 3 lots, folding in fairly quickly, but making sure that everything is thoroughly mixed through. The mixture should hopefully look somewhat like a cross between very softly scrambled eggs and an airy lemon mousse.
Spoon a heaped tablespoon of mixture into each of the madeleine shells and bake in the oven for approximately 9-10 minutes (watching for the edges to turn a nice golden brown colour).
Allow to cool for 30 seconds, before giving the tin a little rap on the bench to loosen the madeleines. Remove them to a cooling rack to cool down some more, before dusting the tops with icing sugar.
They will be especially beautiful eaten while still warm (or at room temperature).
Notes on Cooking:
- Lovely also with orange zest, or even a combination of citrus zests. Add more or less to suit your taste.
- For the second and third batch, the tin should already be greased well enough that you can just add a little more flour and shake to remove any excess, before filling with mixture again.
- If you don’t have a madeleine tin (well worth buying!), a mini-muffin tin can easily be used instead. I tested a batch out just recently and they tasted great, though I did notice that you miss out on the delicious, thin, crispy edges of the madeleine shell. When you turn the little muffin shapes out, I found it was best to keep them upside-down and dust with icing sugar, keeping the outside as crispy as possible.
- The recipe can easily be halved, athough 3 dozen miraculously disappear extremely quickly in our home!