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Madeleines : Lemon & rose water or Orange & vanilla

At work, we have this tradition of bringing back goodies from a holiday/conference destination. It was one such occasion  that someone came back from France and brought back these little, buttery, shell-shaped parcels of goodness. I can’t say I have seen them in the UK very often (surprised anyone ?) but I learnt their name – Madeleines. Since that day I’ve been wanting to make them. I decided to demand a Madeleine tray for a birthday present and it was dutifully delivered by my partner. As a thank you present, I decided to make some the following weekend.

I looked around for a few recipes and settled on David Leibovitz’s one for proportions. I got tips on how to get the browned butter taste/smell into the madeleines  from the Asutralian SBS website. The inspiration for orange flavoured ones came from Chez Pim  though I didn’t actually use her recipe. Finally, the rose water was my little addition to the lemon madeleines. Hope you try them and like them – we sure did. I gave a whole batch and half away and everyone who received it loved it too.

Fresh madeleines anyone?

Ingredients (makes 24 – based on David Leibovitz’s recipe):

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup (130g) of granulated sugar (use cane sugar if feeling healthy)

1/8 rounded teaspoon salt

1 and 1/4 cup (175g) flour

1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)

150g unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature  (If using salted butter, leave out the 1/8th teaspoon of salt)


For the lemon-rose water version:

Zest of one large lemon

Juice of  1 large lemon

3/4 cup (150g) icing sugar

2 tablespoons of rose water

enough water to make a smooth, slightly watery icing


For the orange-vanilla  version:

Zest of one large orange

1/4 cup (150g) icing sugar

2 teaspoons of high quality vanilla extract or the seeds from 1 whole vanilla bean


Method in pictures:

1. In a small pot, melt 150gms of butter 2. In a large mixing bowl, break 3 large eggs and whisk well 3. Add 2/3 cup of sugar into the eggs and whisk well until creamy and thick 4. Use some of the melted butter to line the baking tray 5. After applying butter to the baking tray, dust it with flour and chill it in the fridge or freezer for an hour or more 6. Measure 175gms of flour 7. Sift in the flour into the egg-sugar mix 8. Add grated lemon rind to the melted butter and trickle that into the batter bit by bit. Mix well with each addition 9. Cover the batter and chill it in the fridge for an hour or more 10. After an hour, place 1 heaped teaspoon-ful of batter in the middle of the madeleine tray 11. Bake at 220 degrees for 8-10 minutes 12. Madeleines are done when they have a cone like middle and brown edges 13. For the lemon madeleines, mix the icing sugar, lemon juice, rosewater to make an icing liquid. 14. Dip the warm madeleines in the icing mix on both sides and scrape excess icing off with a spoon 15. Enjoy your lemon-rose water madeleines. 16. For the second batch, I found a better way to flour the trays was to use a small sieve making it more uniform than a spoon 17. Let your butter go a little brown during the melting process as the taste of the madeleines is better with browned butter 18 & 19. For the orange-vanilla madeleines, add vanilla essence (or seeds from a vanilla pod) and orange rind to the egg-sugar-flour batter (Steps 1-7 above) 20. Serve orange-vanilla madeleines while warm as they are or with a light dusting of icing sugar.



1. Watch them carefully and don’t let them burn.

2. The Australian SBS chef dips the cooked madeleines in more butter before serving. I didn’t but I’m sure that would add a lot to the taste.

3. This is not vegan, dieter or artery friendly but I see no harm in it being a rare treat.

4. If you are faced with the dilemma of having to wait for an hour between baking batches, either (1) halve the recipe (2) butter the tray while it is still warm, dust it and continue on with the second batch. I did so and the taste wasn’t compromised.

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