Are madeleines still madeleines if they're not shaped like shells? Or are they one of those things whose name is determined by their shape and not by the ingredients used to create them? My source of all knowledge (that is, wikipedia) describes madeleines as "very small sponge cakes with a distinctive shell-like shape", if wikipedia is too be believed then a cake using the madeleine batter without the shell shape wouldn't be a madeleine at all. Do you think this is the case? Would it be wrong to call my square little cakes madeleines and, if so, what should they be called instead?
Naming conventions aside, these little lovelies do taste like madeleines. They're quite soft and light. Out of all these recipes I've tried so far this one is probably my favourite. Flavour-wise, they're just plain old lemon which when paired with delicious jam is perfectly acceptable.
I paired my madeleines with rhubarb and strawberry jam. Rhubarb and strawberry is a much appreciated combination, and for a good reason. It never fails to deliver a nice punch of flavour. Jam is so simple to make that it surprises me that more people don't do it. Maybe there's some kind of myth that it's a complex process which requires special equipment and that if you don't get it right you'll end up ruining everything and wasting all your delicious ingredients? Or maybe people do make jam and just don't tell me about it because they know I'll eat it all? I'm actually leaning towards the latter!
Lemon madeleines with rhubarb and strawberry jam
100g (2/3 cup) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
100g (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
130g (1 cup) icing sugar
melted butter, extra
icing sugar, extra
Using the extra melted butter, grease two 12 hole madeleine tins. Preheat the oven to 160°C (350°F)
In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, lemon zest, and juice on high speed until light and pale; about 5 minutes. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat for a further 5 minutes, or until thick.
Turn off the mixer and gently fold the sifted flour into the egg mixture until smooth and no lumps remain. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag pitted with a 1cm (1/2 inch) tip. Pipe the mixture into the madeleine tins, filling each hole about 2/3 full.
Bake the madeleines for 8-10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool for 1-2 minutes. Loosen the biscuits with a knife and then invert on to a wire rack. Cool completely then sprinkle with icing sugar just prior to serving
Rhubarb and strawberry jam
300g white sugar
100g brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Wash the rhubarb, then trim off the poisonous leaves and discard them. Chop the rhubarb into 1-2.5cm (1/3-1 inch) pieces. Hull the strawberries, and cut them into similar sized pieces as the rhubarb. Leave some whole, if desired.
Peel the lemons using a vegetable peeler, then squeeze the lemons into a bowl lined with muslin. Bundle up if muslin so that it contains the seeds of the lemons and the juice is left in the bowl.
Place the fruit, sugars, lemon juice, lemon rind, nutmeg, and bundle of lemon seeds in a heavy-based saucepan and stir to combine.
Increase the heat. When the mixture begins to boil and froth, turn the heat down and cook the jam over lower heat for 30-40 minutes. Place a plate in the freezer for testing the consistency later on, or alternatively use a thermometer.
Whilst the jam is cooking, wash your jars thoroughly in hot soapy water and dry upside down on a rack, or in a 100°C (210°F) oven.
To test the jam; drop a spoonful on a cold plate, wait for 30 seconds, then run your finger through it. If the jam stays split down the middle, it's ready. If you are using a thermometer, the jam will be ready when the temperature reaches 104°C (219°F).
Ladle the jam into your pre-washed jars, filling approximately 1.5cm (1/2 inch) from the top. Place the lids on. At this point, you can either turn the jars upside down and leave them until them until the seals pop, or pasteurise them by wrapping the jars in cloth and placing them in a saucepan of boiling water for 15 minutes. If you pasteurise the jars by boiling, make sure the water level is always a couple of centimetres (or about an inch) higher than the top of the jars. Leave then to cool in the water then store in the cupboard until required.