This week I made Classic French Madeleines for my learning project. As usual, I had a lot of recipes to choose from. I’ve talked about this before, but I was thinking it over as I decided between the different recipes. I know that my decision wasn’t a big one, it probably won’t even be the biggest I make this evening!
Turns out, having too much choice is not a good thing and can create anxiety. Before choosing which recipe I would go with, I read about why having too much choice is making you unhappy and why too much choice is stressing us out. Both articles seem to point out that the internet is one of the causes of having too many options, allowing us to see all the possibilities and then, finally, not choose them.
Anyway, back to the madeleines. The recipe I decided to go with is a Classic French Madeleine recipe from Julia Child. My friend at school happened to have a madeleine pan that she let me borrow, so I didn’t need to buy one just for this recipe!
The recipe was actually quite simple, in comparison to other things that I’ve made so far.
- 2 eggs
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon All purpose flour (Maida)
- 140 grams unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- pinch of salt
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- Slightly beat the eggs in a bowl. Measure ¼ cup of eggs into a bowl.
- Then beat in the sugar and the cup of flour. Add little more egg ( a tablespoon at a time), if the batter is too dry. When thoroughly blended, set aside and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a sauce pan, bring it to the boil, and let it brown lightly. Set aside.
- Place the 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl and blend in 1½ tablespoons of the browned butter. Paint the Madeleine cups with the butter-flour mixture. Set aside.
- Stir the rest of the butter over ice until cool but liquid. Mix the butter with the last of the eggs along with salt, lemon rind and juice and vanilla.
- Add this mixture to the resting batter and stir well. Allow the batter to rest for 10 more minutes. If you want a big hump in the middle which is so characteristic about Madeleines, allow the batter to rest for one hour at room temperature or couple of hours in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F, and set the racks in upper and lower middle levels. Divide the batter into 24 lumps of a generous tablespoon each, and drop them into the Madeleine cups. Bake in the preheated oven, 20 minutes, until the cakes are slightly browned around the edges, humped in the middle, and slightly shrunk from the cups.
- Un-mold onto a rack. When cool, turn shell side up and dust with confectioners sugar for serving. (dusting is optional). They will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two in an airtight container.
Sounds simple, right?
I followed the directions perfectly and made, even if I’ve never had them before, decent madeleines. However, during the process I was a little frustrated. The pictures on the websites never look like what I am creating. On the blog post the pictures of the batter showed a very liquid batter. Mine, however, was very dry and looked more like cookie dough than cake batter. (Not to worry, in the end, my madeleines turned out really well!)
What got me thinking, though, is how difficult it is to learn a new skill on the internet without an expert around. I’ve been using the food bloggers as my experts, as they’ve usually tried the recipes that I am attempting. It’s wonderful to be able to cross reference their pictures and opinions with other pictures and videos as well.
Luckily, most food bloggers are not looking to troll others trying out their recipes and therefore they can be mostly trusted. (I hope!)
However, if you are trying to learn a skill without a clear expert, sometimes you have to spend a lot more time researching and verifying that your ‘expert’ is, in fact, the read deal. Or, you can use different websites to check out your source!
And, to finish this blog post, here is the end result of my madeleines! (Final Verdict: Delicious!!)