Have you ever heard the expression « c’est ma madeleine de Proust »?
The French use it when something – be it an object, an event or a situation – reminds us of sweet memories of the past.
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.
- Madeleine-shaped moulds
- 2 eggs
- 50 gr caster sugar
- 15 gr honey
- 85 gr flour
- 90 gr butter
- 5 gr baking powder
- Zests of 1 organic lemon or orange depending on your taste
- First prepare the batter.
Prepare the ingredients:
- In a bowl, mix the eggs and the zests of the orange or lemon. Put the butter in a saucepan, ideally a double boiler, on a low heat so that it will melt slowly. Carefully measure the quantity of honey, caster sugar and flour. Sift together the flour and the baking powder.
Now you can prepare the mixture:
- Vigorously mix the eggs, the caster sugar, the citrus zests and the honey until the preparation fluffs up somewhat.
- Then add the flour and baking powder and lastly the melted butter. Be sure to keep stirring otherwise the eggs will cook upon contact with the hot butter.
- Leave for 1 hour in the refrigerator in a closed container.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- If you are not using silicon molds, greace your mold. Pour the mixture in the molds using a spoon or piping bag.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 200°C (400°F).
- Madeleines are always served the shell shape underneath and the round shape on top.
- Tip : It’s important not to skip the resting time of the dough because it lowers the temperature of the dough. When placed in the preheated oven, the thermal shock will make the Madeleines puff up and this way obtain its nice round shape on one side and shell design on the other. On top of this, the dough will have enough time to absorb the flavor of the citrus zest.
Bon appétit !