In an inverse relationship to their size, small cakes hold a big place in my heart. For me, there is just something immensely likeable about them. Maybe it has something to do with nostalgia and the fact that they so easily transport you back to childhood – when the ultimate treat was a cupcake with pink icing, or better yet, a butterfly cake – or maybe it is that being small in size you feel less guilty about eating them and can therefore eat them without constraint…
Whatever the reason, I love them and am always looking for more small cakes in my life.
Recently, my little cake du jour has been the madeleine. They’ve got to be one of the cutest little cakes around (I mean, who can resist a shell-shaped cake?) and I love the understated simplicity of them. You’ve got to hand it to the French – they know a thing or two about cake.
2 tsp earl grey tea leaves (or 2 teabags)
185g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
Finely grated zest of 1 mandarin
125g unsalted butter, melted
125g caster sugar
150g icing sugar
2 tsp freeze-dried raspberry powder *
30ml (1 ½ tbsp) mandarin juice
- Place tea leaves, milk and water in a small saucepan and heat until just below simmering. Remove from heat and allow tea to infuse for 10 minutes or so before straining. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Place flour, baking powder, salt and mandarin zest in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and caster sugar until combined and bubbly. Add the tea mixture as well as melted butter to the egg and sugar mixture and whisk to combine.
- Pour wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk gently to combine. Cover bowl and place in the fridge for ½ hour or so (or up to 2 days) to rest.
- Preheat oven to 190°C (fan-forced) and grease your madeleine tin well with melted butter. Dust the tin with flour, tapping out any excess and set aside.
- When the madeleine batter has rested, remove from the fridge and scoop a scant tablespoon of batter into each madeleine mould.
- Place in preheated oven and bake for 4 minutes. Turn the oven off (leaving the madeleines in there – this helps them form their distinctive domed tops) for 1 minute, before turning the oven back on at 160°C. Cook madeleines for a further 4 minutes until peaked and golden.
- Whilst the cakes are cooking, place all the ingredients for the raspberry glaze in a small mixing bowl, stirring to form a lovely runny glaze.
- When madeleines are cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly in the tin for a couple of minutes. Remove madeleines, one at a time, spooning a teaspoon of glaze over each before placing on a wire rack to cool and glaze to set. Coating the cakes in icing whilst still warm ensures a lovely thin, shiny coating of glaze. Once the glaze it set, eat madeleines with a big cup of tea.
These little cakes are best eaten the day they are made, but the batter keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days – so you can make a batch fresh as the fancy takes you.
*Freeze-dried raspberry powder is available at specialty cooking shops or online. Whilst the raspberry powder adds a beautiful colour and fruity flavour to the glaze, you can easily make it without – just add an extra 2 teaspoons of icing sugar instead, making a plain mandarin glaze, which is lovely too.