For the past four days my husband and I have been fully engaged in the Christmas rush. We’re still not even nearly done but we’re ticking items off the list, slowly. The storm couldn’t keep my husband indoors. I had planned two days of baking and online Christmas shopping while it poured outside, only for it to be thwarted by my husband’s determination not to be “cooped up at home”.
The storm that passed through the Bay Area didn’t hit us as badly as the local news media had anticipated so instead of preparing a sourdough starter and kneading bread dough and hearing the song of a crackling loaf as it came out of the oven, I let my husband happily drive me around town where I didn’t really need to go. The bright side is that we were productive and, as silly as it sounds, it is fun doing errands with him.
So while the bread project may have to be put off for another weekend, I did manage to bake a treat for us.
Madeleines are very easy–and quick–to throw together. You mix up the batter and they’re ready to bake. (You can chill the batter for at least one hour to get the signature humps that these French tea cakes are known for but I’ve found that you can still get a fluffy, pillowy madeleine without this extra wait time. Just no big humps.)
I’ve shared a few flavor combinations here but this latest is now my favorite. Maybe it’s the influence of the season but the combination of orange and cardamom were magical here. Before baking these madeleines, I had no idea that the two were a common pairing in baked goods. I had been wanting to use cardamom for some Scandinavian bread recipes I’ve bookmarked so it was my first choice when trying to decide on a flavor to incorporate into the little cakes. I added the orange zest after seeing two oranges on my counter and wow, I was very pleasantly surprised at how well these turned out. The flavors are bright and light without being too spicy or citrusy. Don’t be afraid to use the cardamom even you feel it’s too bold a spice. With just the right amount, it does complement the orange really well. I had considered topping the cakes with a glaze but it wasn’t necessary at all.
One thing I did differently with these madeleines was that I used einkorn flour instead of all-purpose flour. You’ve been following me along on my journey with spelt flour; I’ve expanded my horizons into an even more ancient grain. Although we have no dietary requirements to use them, I’ve really enjoyed learning about heirloom wheats. I’m still on the steep side of the learning curve when it comes to adapting recipes using modern wheat for ancient grains (they all have different hydration requirements) but I’m enjoying the entire experience.
This is beyond the scope of this post, but einkorn is believed to be the original wheat that man began to cultivate 10,000 years ago. As such, it is the only wheat that has only two sets of chromosomes rather than the six sets of modern wheat and even spelt (spelt was the result of hybridization with emmer and a wild grass). Ancient grains and modern wheat all offer a different nutrition profile and one is not necessarily better than the other so for me, it’s the combination of history, education and especially the application that I’m enjoying.
For these madeleines, it’s more than okay to use all-purpose flour so don’t hesitate to give this recipe a try. I’ve provided instructions for both flours in the recipe below so don’t miss out on tasting cardamom and orange together. Now I can’t wait for that baking day to come so I can use these two together again.
More madeleine recipes from the archives:
- 1¼ cups (5 ounces; 155 grams) einkorn flour (I used the gram measurement here; you can use all purpose flour)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder (if using AP flour, reduce to ¼ teaspoon)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Egg substitute equivalent to 3 eggs (or 2 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of one orange
- 3.5 ounces melted butter
- Preheat your oven to 375℉. Spray your madeleine pan with cooking spray (even if it is nonstick). If your pan is not nonstick, dust with flour and tap out the excess.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom in a bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs or egg substitute with the sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and orange zest and beat again just until combined.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until combined. Then fold in the melted butter and fold again until well combined.
- Drop a heaping tablespoon of batter into each well of the madeleine pan, filling each well about ¾ full. This will be a thick batter. Tap the pan to settle the batter into the wells. Bake for 13-15 minutes until the madeleines are golden brown. If you use convection baking, preheat to 375℉ then immediately lower the temperature to 350℉ when you start baking; they will be finished in 13 minutes for convection baking. You may need the full 15 minutes for regular baking.
- Remove the pan from the oven and slide the madeleines onto a cooking rack. Clean out the pan, let it cool, spray with more cooking spray (and dust with flour if not using a nonstick pan) and bake the rest of the batter. (See Notes)
* To get the signature humps you must beat the eggs for 3-5 minutes and chill the batter for at least one hour. Without these two steps these madeleines were plenty puffy for me.
* Einkorn flour is not necessary here. All purpose or cake flour will yield more pillowy madeleines. Since einkorn is whole wheat flour, it will yield a slightly denser cake but I really liked it.