In 2008 I had never seen a food blog and didn’t have a clue what they were. Googling wasn’t the obsession then that it is now and I relied on my monthly food magazines, cookbooks and food section of our local newspaper for recipes and general info. That year I started planning my first trip to Paris and was overwhelmed by how much information I could find on the internet. I stumbled across David Lebovitz’s blog completely by accident and after reading a half dozen posts I was totally hooked.
I have several of David’s cookbooks and have tried many of his recipes and this is one of my favorites. Madeleines are very small sponge cakes with a distinctive shell-like shape acquired from being baked in pans with shell-shaped depressions. They can be on the finicky side but with a little patience and practice, and a good non-stick pan, they turn out perfectly every time. David’s recipe is straightforward and goes together quickly. The browned butter gives the little cakes a wonderfully nutty flavor and if you aren’t familiar with browning butter you can find a tutorial here. Another favorite recipe is buckwheat crepes, or galettes, and you can find that recipe here. They are wonderful filled with ham and cheese, a fried egg and a little handful of arugula.
If you haven’t baked with buckwheat flour before you are in for a treat. It produces a heavier texture than all-purpose white flour and has a flavor that is hard to describe…healthy, natural, nutty, a little on the savory side. You just have to try it for yourself.
While many people think that buckwheat is a cereal grain, it is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel making it a suitable substitute for grains for people who are sensitive to wheat or other grains that contain protein glutens. It has a high nutritional value, making it popular in many nations, especially in Asia. Buckwheat flour can be used in an assortment of foods including pancakes and traditional Japanese soba noodles. One of my blogging goals this year is to use my pantry ingredients in new and interesting ways. It’s so easy to get into the rut of making the same old recipes over and over. I’ll be doing more experiments with buckwheat flour so stay tuned…
I dipped the warm madeleines in chocolate because the flavor is delicious with the nuttiness of the buckwheat, but you can dust them with a little confectioners sugar if you prefer. They are best eaten the day they are made and will last several days if they are stored in an airtight container. The chocolate glaze helps to keep them soft. If you have an old tin madeleine pan in the back of your cupboard that you never use because everything sticks to it it’s time to give it a toss and get a new one that is non-stick. These delicious little treats are so versatile and easy to make and should be on every baker’s recipe list. Madeleines are made in many flavors and can be found in most patisseries in Paris.
This delicious recipe is from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz.
- 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
- ⅔ cup (105 grams) buckwheat flour
- ⅓ cup (45 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup egg whites (from 3-4 large eggs)
- 1 tablespoon dark honey
- 3 tablespoons roasted cocoa nibs or mini chocolate chips
- Confectioners sugar or melted chocolate for glaze
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the butter until it’s the color of maple syrup and smells toasty. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the egg whites and honey. Stir in one-third of the browned butter; gradually add the rest of the butter, including all the dark bits, without scraping the bottom of the pan. Mix in the cocoa nibs (or chocolate chips), stirring until the batter is smooth.
- In two madeleine molds, brush the indentations with melted butter. Fill the molds three-quarters full with the batter. Tap the pans gently on the surface to even out the batter, and bake for 9-10 minutes, until they spring back lightly when you touch them in the center. Because of the color of the buckwheat flour, color is not a good indication of doneness. Remove from oven, wait 30 seconds, then tip out onto cooling rack to cool.
- When cool dip one side of the madeleines into melted chocolate or sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Store in an airtight container.