This expression comes from a story told by Marcel Proust in his masterpiece A la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) et more precisely in the book Du côté de chez Swan (Swann’s Way), published in 1913. In this tale, Marcel Proust narrates a sweet moment in which his mother offers him some tea that he drinks with Madeleines, delicious little orange flavored sponge cakes. In the book, the narrator explains how he likes to keep them in his mouth while he drinks tea so that they dissolve slowly on his tongue. He describes Madeleines as sensual, shell-shaped pastries. The taste of these pastries reminds him of his aunt, Léonie, who taught him to eat Madeleines in a particular way: by dunking them in tea. This was a particularly lovely memory for him.
Madeleines are the symbol of a previously lost past that suddenly comes back unconsciously.
What about you? Do you have your own madeleine de Proust?
As for me, it’s the afternoon snacks my mother use to serve my brothers and me after long days of skiing, either the slices of bread covered with honey that I used to dunk into my hot chocolate milk (with a lot of dark chocolate, not those fake chocolate powders that kids like nowadays) or the pancake-like matefaim – literally “hunger-slayer” – (someday I will give you this recipe from my native region in the French Alps. Do not try to eat it unless you’re starving!) It brings back the memories of a childhood filled with beautiful mountains and winter sports.
Mix all ingredients, respecting the order of the above list, let the dough rest for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, then bake.
Now you can prepare the mixture: