Spaghetti Squash Gratin
Wee Sprouts

Paula Wolfert's Madeleines from Dax


These could also be known as My Bumpless Madeleines. The recipe was excerpted from Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of South-West France (which is being reissued now, and is gorgeous) in an article from the LA Times this summer about Wolfert's house and life in Sonoma. While I worship at the altar of Wolfert, these madeleines didn't really cut it.

I feel terribly about what I'm about to do. Criticizing a recipe of Paula Wolfert's! She of the melting Fork-and-Knife Kale, the miraculous sardine-avocado toasts, the endless discussion threads on eGullet... I do not venture into this uncharted territory lightly. But it is my duty as a recipe-testing blogger to tell the truth. So the truth is, these madeleines had no bump. And a bumpless madeleine isn't much more than a cookie with a fancy name.

Sure, the little suckers tasted okay. But delicious they were not. And I'm no madeleine virgin. In fact, a few years ago, I made a batch that, glorious bump and all, were revelations after years of eating packaged Madeleines de Commercy. (Of course, now, for the life of me, I can't remember where I put that recipe. I'll find it, never fear.) Wolfert's bumpless madeleines had the correct, barely dusty texture, but the flavor was oddly flat and, dare I say it, almost greasy.

1. First, I beat together 2 eggs, a pinch of salt and 5 1/2 tablespoons of sugar until the mixture was thick and light (6-7 minutes). Then I added 1 1/2 teaspoons of orange flower water and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, whisking gently to combine.

2. I sifted 5 1/2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour with 5 1/2 tablespoons of cake flour and 3/4 of a teaspoon of baking powder together, twice. I gradually stirred this into the egg mixture. I added 5 tablespoons of clarified butter that had melted and cooled, plus 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. I stirred the batter gently until smooth. The bowl was covered with plastic and refrigerated overnight.

3. The next day, I heated the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and buttered the hollows of a madeleine pan. I filled the pan 2/3 of the way full, then rapped it against the table to let the batter settle. I baked the madeleines for 5 minutes, then lowered the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and baked for 6 minutes more, until the edges were browned and the madeleines were golden.

4. After removing the pan from the oven, I loosened each cookie with the tip of a knife and cooled them on a rack. The recipe indicates that it will yield 18 (3-inch) cakes or 24 (2-inch) cakes.