these are some of the most beautiful things I’ve made in a while – but really, what doesn’t look good coming out of a small intricate mold? this is also the first time I’ve browned butter, and baked with it, but it definitely isn’t going to be the last.
so I know people bloggers usually expound on the fact that browned butter is amazing and nutty and beautiful, but I absorbed all those adjectives all these years and didn’t think to do a damned thing about it. I could kick myself.
it’s not difficult, by any means; you drop a knob of butter in a small non-stick pan, place the pan over a low heat and just keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t brown too much. that’s all, really! just about the fussiest thing you need to do about it is to drain the solids after you’re done (which is where I made a mess and got it all over my mother’s tea towel – oops) but that’s a small thing to do considering the fact that you’re making heaven in a pan. there’s nothing quite like butter in a cake – and there’s even less (taking literary license here) of anything quite like browned butter in a cake.
I used it this time to make a batch of madeleines, my first batch in a very long time. I was gifted the pan a few years ago and made a few madeleines – though I abandoned it in lieu of my pursuit for more loaf cakes – and brought it home to singapore where I found that it didn’t fit in my small not-a-wall-oven. my dad very nicely sawed it in half for me – yay! for engineer dads – and it’s been sitting in my cupboard since.
I made a tiny batch of 12 madeleines this time just to try out the recipe, and was scolded by my sister and parents for not making more. they were tiny delicious morsels.
p.s. just be careful not to overbake these as they can dry out, and they were humpless. I read that french people generally look for humpless, flat madeleines so I’m taking this as a mark of success. the taste of these are remarkable though, moist and buttery in the best way, and it shouldn’t matter to you if they hump or not.
I’ve adapted the recipe to metrics, and made it with orange zest (ran out of lemons!), and factorised the recipe to only yield 12 standard size madeleines. I recommend filling the molds about 0.75 full as that way you get the full shape of the madeleine!
orange brown butter madeleines (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
42g unsalted butter plus enough to liberally grease the pan
bare pinch of salt
38g castor sugar
zest of half a large orange
0.25 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar for dusting
- preheat oven to 175C. butter your madeleine pan liberally with a brush. dust with flour, and tap off excess.
- melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat until it is brown – this took me about 5 minutes. it should be brown and smell nutty and amazing. strain this using a paper towel over a mesh strainer – be careful not to spill this everywhere if your pan doesn’t have a spout, like I did – and leave to cool. proceed with the other ingredients.
- whisk the egg and salt until thick and thickened to double or triple its volume. continue whisking while you add the sugar gradually in a stream, and continue until the mixture is thick and ribbony – this is where your madeleines get their lift! fold in the zest and vanilla gently.
- sift your flour over the egg mixture and gently fold in. fold in the cooled brown butter and stir just to bring it all together.
- fill each mold about three-quarters full – I use my trusty ice-cream scoop – and bake until they are golden brown. keep an eye on them as it happens very quickly!
- remove immediately and unmold – I find it best to use a wooden skewer to follow the ridges in the mold to get them out – and leave to cool without the pan on a wire rack.
- dust with powdered sugar when they are cool.