How to Make the Perfect Madeleines

madeleines recipe

Sometimes the most simple of things can be the most satisfying and actually the most complex. Take madeleines, the French cake hailing from the Lorraine region of the country. The small sponges with that instantly recognisable shell-like shape are light, buttery and have a distinguishable moist middle and crisp edge – and are best enjoyed straight out of the oven.

Dating back to the mid-18th century, madeleines have been largely unchanged since their conception (a testament to their recipe and that French sense of purity and fierce preservation). It’s quite possibly one of the most intellectually-stimulated cakes you can enjoy too (if such a thing as intelligent cakes exist), referenced by none other than Marcel Proust in In Search of Lost Time, used to differentiate between – and examine – involuntary and voluntary memory.

Madeleines take a bit more effort than the average sponge cake (there’s that underlying complexity again), with a few different steps to make the batter which then needs to be chilled before filling up the madeleine pan. But then that makes it all the more satisfying. Visit Renée Kemps’ website for the perfect recipe.

Words by Angharad Jones. Image property of Renée Kemps

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert