Characters in Cascade eat typical 1930s fare: cabbage rolls, pork chops, herring salads, and diner specials of meatloaf, peas, and mashed potatoes. But while Dez was growing up, the Hart family’s beloved housekeeper, Rose, baked light, shell-shaped French madeleines for every opening night performance at the Cascade Shakespeare Theatre. She served them with frosted grapes for an elegant touch.
“The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it…but… soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me …. immediately the old gray house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden which had been built out behind it for my parents.”
-Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time
A platter of madeleines and frosted grapes is made extra beautiful with garnishes of rosemary (for remembrance).
Madeleines recipe adapted by David Lebovitz from his book The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing City (Broadway, 2009) on his blog.
There are easier madeleine recipes but David’s recipe makes beautiful madeleines that are the perfect, scrumptious combination of cookie/cake.
Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Yield: 24 madeleines
Lemon glazed madeleines that can also be baked as mini-muffins are a tangy, sweet cross between a cake and a cookie.
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Rounded 1/8 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (optional, see note)
Zest of one small lemon
For the glaze
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
- Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold or a mini-muffin pan (see note) with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer. (Tip from Maryanne: do this even if you have a nonstick pan.)
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 5 minutes until mixture is frothy and thickened.
- Spoon the flour and baking powder, if using, into a sifter or mesh strainer and use a spatula to fold in the flour as you sift it over the batter. (Rest the bowl on a damp towel to help steady it for you.)
- Add the lemon zest to the remaining cooled butter, then dribble the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Batter can be chilled for up to 12 hours.)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Spoon enough batter in the center of each indentation so each is ¾ full). Do not spread the batter.
- Bake for 8-9 minutes or until the cakes just feel set. While the cakes are baking, make the glaze in a small mixing bowl by stirring together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth.
- Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. When they’re cool enough to handle, dip each cake in the glaze, turning it over to make sure both sides are coated, and scrape off any excess with a dull knife. After dipping, rest each one back on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up.
From David Lebovitz’s blog: “If you use baking powder, they may take another minute or so to bake since the batter will rise higher. They’re done when the cakes feel just set if you poke them with your finger. Avoid overbaking them. There’s nothing better than a fresh, buttery madeleine. I also prefer to bake these in the upper-third of my oven, so the tops get slightly-browned. I love the lemon glaze, but you can omit it if you want your madeleines nekkid.”
(Leavening agents such as baking powder make cake more light and tender. If you prefer a denser consistency, leave the baking powder out.)
Glazed madeleines are best when left uncovered and eaten the day they’re made, but they can be stored in a container for up to three days after baking if necessary. If you plan to freeze them, don’t glaze the madeleines.
Madeleine pans are easy to find at kitchen shops, but you can also use a mini-muffin pan.
Rose’s Frosted Grapes Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 bunch frosted grapes
Sugar coated grapes are an elegant, easy and refreshing dessert or snack.
1 small bunch washed and dried seedless grapes, on the stem
2 pasteurized, fresh egg whites (see note)
1/3 cup sugar, poured onto a plate
- Rinse eggs in water before cracking their whites into a bowl.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the whites until they are just starting to foam.
- Holding the grapes by the stem, dip the bunch into the egg whites, or use a pastry brush to paint the egg onto the grapes.
- Roll the grapes in the sugar to coat them. Shake gently to get rid of excess sugar and set over a wire rack to dry.
To pasteurize eggs: bring eggs to room temperature. Place eggs in a pot filled with cold water over medium heat. When the water temperature reaches 150°F. on a thermometer (it should be no higher), lower the heat. The water temperature should be between 140°F. and 150°F. Allow the eggs to sit in the pot for three to five more minutes, then remove and wash with cold water.