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HISTORY OF MADELEINES

By Bake Club

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Madeleines are a cakelike biscuit made from a light buttery sponge that melts on the tongue. These delicate little teacakes originate from France and have become a popular addition to a cuppa all around the world, particularly in Europe.

Madeleines are often recognised by their shell-like shape. They are baked in a special mould that gives the cakes grooves. The cake is made from a génoise batter, which is famous for being so light and airy. The batter uses no raising agent instead during mixing air is beaten into the eggs, the air then expands during baking which makes the cakes rise. Traditional recipes include ground up almonds but lemon zest can also be used to add a zingy and refreshing flavour.

It is believed that madeleines come from a little French town called Commercy. As with most recipes, there is a bit of speculation about how the recipe materialised. One story is that pastry chef Jean Avice created the madeleines after baking cakes in an aspic mould usually used for jelly. Another story is that they were named after Louis XV’s father-in-law’s cook Madeleine Paulmier. It is believed that Madeleine’s grandmother passed down the recipe. They were tasted by Louis XV at the Chateau Commercy in Lorraine in 1755 and then introduced to the court by his wife. The rest is history.

However the madeleines were invented, we are pretty thankful that they were. Madeleines became really popular in the 20th century by renowned author Marcel Proust in his autobiographical novel ‘À La Recherche du Temps Perdu,’ or Remembrances Of Things Past. Madeleienes became the symbol for subconscious memory. The narrator dips a madeleine into a cup of tea and after taking a sip recalls childhood memories of eating a madeleine every Sunday, given to him by his aunt. Sounds like a pretty great aunt to me!

This issue we have madeleines that have been infused with lavender and decorated with coloured sugar. The dainty cakes are sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face, and could even evoke charming forgotten memories!

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