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Lemon Madeleines

Lemon madeleines covered with powdered sugar on a green plate

Lemon Madeleines are delicious bite-sized cakes with a scalloped edge on one side and a cute puffed “hump” on the other side.  They take just a few minutes to prepare and since the batter needs to sit in the fridge over night to rise properly, this is a perfect make-ahead breakfast or dessert.  Their bright lemon flavor, soft and tender crumb, and crunchy caramelized edges make for a fantastic French treat. 

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Ingredients

Equipment

Making the Lemon Madeleines Batter

The day BEFORE you want to eat lemon madeleines, begin making the batter.  I know you might want to skip the “resting overnight” step, but it makes a difference in the final baked product.

Melted butter, brown sugar, and honey in a saucepan

Begin by melting the butter, brown sugar, and honey in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir occasionally with a silicone spatula to avoid burning until all ingredients are melted.  Remove from the heat.  We want the butter mixture to be warm, but not hot, when it is added to the madeleine batter.

Next, combine the granulated sugar, salt, flour, and baking powder in a large bowl and combine with a whisk. 

Whisking egg into lemon madeleine batter

Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and then add the eggs one at a time.  Whisk after each addition until the egg is fully incorporated.  When the last egg has been added and the mixture is smooth, slowly whisk in the butter mixture. 

Add the lemon zest and lemon oil and whisk gently to combine.  At this point, the lemon madeleine batter should fall off the whisk in ribbons.  

Lemon madeleine batter in a tupperware covered with plastic wrap

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the lemon madeleine batter.  This will keep the batter from forming a skin.  Refrigerate overnight so the batter can rest.  This will result in a better rise when the madeleines are baking to achieve that characteristic “hump.”

Why Do Madeleines Have a Hump?

Baking powder is used in many madeleine recipes to achieve the characteristic hump.  Baking powder is a chemical leavening agent used to increase the volume and lighten the texture of baked goods.  In other words, it helps cake batter “puff up” while baking. 

While baking soda helps, the madeleine hump (or bump) is primarily caused by the thermal shock of the cold batter being put into a hot oven.  This is why it’s essential to chill your batter before baking it.  The hot air causes the water in the batter to turn to steam, which in turn helps with the rise. 

Baking Lemon Madeleienes

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C with a rack in the center of the oven. 

Prepared madeleine pan with lemon madeleine batter in a piping bag

Regardless of whether your madeleine pan is non-stick or not, you will still need to prepare it to make sure the little cakes can be removed without sticking.  Brush the madeleine pan with butter.  Refrigerate or freeze the pan to harden the butter and then remove the pan a few minutes before baking. 

Use a spatula to place the lemon madeleine batter in a piping bad and cut a ½-inch opening straight across the tip of the bag. 

Piped lemon madeleines into a prepared pan

Pipe the batter into each scalloped cavity of the madeleine pan until the cavity is ¾ full. 

You could also spoon the batter into each cavity to achieve the same result.

Baked lemon madeleines in a madeline pan

Bake the madeleines for 9-11 minutes.  The lemon madeleines are done when the tops are lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Keep in mind, that the bottom of the madeleines will brown faster than the top.  Don’t wait to take them out until the tops are completely golden brown.  The bottoms will be too dark. 

Tip out the madeleines immediately and allow them to cool slightly on a wire rack. 

My Madeleines Didn’t Get a Hump.  What Did I Do Wrong?

The first thing to check is your baking powder.  Is it expired?  This is one ingredient where the expiration date needs to be adhered to.  The “puffing” power of baking powder quickly decreases when the product is expired. 

Avoid overfilling the cavities in the madeleine pan.  Typically, you should try to fill each cavity ½ – ¾ full.  If you fill the cavity completely to the top, the batter will overflow. Instead of rising, it will result in the cake “spreading” and forming a flatter madeleine. 

Avoid opening the oven door until the madeleines are fully cooked.  Opening the door decreases the oven temperature, which could impact the overall rise.  Additionally, the jostling that can happen when closing the oven door can cause the air bubbles in the partially cooked cake to collapse. 

Serving Lemon Madeleines

Lemon madeleines covered with powdered sugar

Madeleines are best the day they are made and really, they are best just a couple minutes after they finish baking.  Use a small sieve to sprinkle powdered sugar over the freshly-baked madeleines and eat after about 5 minutes of cooling!  They have will be light and fluffy with crispy edges and soft centers.  The powdered sugar adds a small amount of sweetness and the lemon flavor is bright.  These are a great for breakfast, lunch, snack-time, and dinner!  Many people also eat them with tea or coffee.

Storing Lemon Madeleines

Lemon madeleines covered with powdered sugar on a green plate

Baked madeleines do not store well.  This is one recipe where they are best eaten immediately and not kept for longer than one day in an airtight container at room temperature.  They tend to dry out and get hard very quickly.  However, you can keep the batter in an airtight container in the fridge, with the plastic wrap pressed onto the surface, for up to 3 days.  Once the batter is made and rested, it takes almost no time at all to make fresh madeleines. 

Looking for More Lemon-Flavored Treats?

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love to know how it turned out!  Please let me know by leaving your thoughts below.  Or snap a photo and share it on Pinterest or Instagram (@windycitybaker). 

Notes:

This recipe was adapted from the “Mini Madeleines” recipe in Dominique Ansel’s cookbook, Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes.

Lemon Madeleines

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Resting Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 40 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Servings: 24 Madeleines

Equipment

  • Digital scale (or dry measuring cup, measuring cup for sticky ingredients, and measuring spoons)
  • Small saucepan
  • Silicone spatula
  • Large bowl
  • Sifter
  • Whisk
  • Microplane zester
  • Plastic wrap
  • Piping bag (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)
  • 12-mold madeleine pan
  • Pastry brush
  • Small sieve

Ingredients

  • 1 stick (8 tbsp or 113g) unsalted butter + additional for the pan
  • 1 Tbsp (15g) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp (15g) honey
  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp (0.5g) salt
  • 1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ½ tsp (4g) baking powder
  • 3 large (150g) eggs
  • 2 Tbsp (8g) grated lemon zest
  • 1-2 drops lemon oil (optional)
  • Nonstick cooking spray (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp (8-16g) powdered sugar – for decoration

Instructions

Making the Lemon Madeleine Batter

  • The day BEFORE you want to eat lemon madeleines, begin making the batter. I know you might want to skip the “resting overnight” step, but it makes a difference in the final baked product.
  • Begin by melting the butter, brown sugar, and honey in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally with a silicone spatula to avoid burning until all ingredients are melted. Remove from the heat. We want the butter mixture to be warm, but not hot, when it is added to the madeleine batter.
  • Next, combine the granulated sugar, salt, flour, and baking powder in a large bowl and combine with a whisk.
  • Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and then add the eggs one at a time. Whisk after each addition until the egg is fully incorporated. When the last egg has been added and the mixture is smooth, slowly whisk in the butter mixture.
  • Add the lemon zest and lemon oil and whisk gently to combine. At this point, the lemon madeleine batter should fall off the whisk in ribbons.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the lemon madeleine batter. This will keep the batter from forming a skin. Refrigerate overnight so the batter can rest. This will result in a better rise when the madeleines are baking to achieve that characteristic “hump.”

Baking Lemon Madeleines

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C with a rack in the center of the oven.
  • Regardless of whether your madeleine pan is non-stick or not, you will still need to prepare it to make sure the little cakes can be removed without sticking. Brush the madeleine pan with butter. Refrigerate or freeze the pan to harden the butter and then remove the pan a few minutes before baking.
  • Use a spatula to place the lemon madeleine batter in a piping bad and cut a ½-inch opening straight across the tip of the bag.
  • Pipe the batter into each scalloped cavity of the madeleine pan until the cavity is ¾ full.
  • You could also spoon the batter into each cavity to achieve the same result.
  • Bake the madeleines for 9-11 minutes. The lemon madeleines are done when the tops are lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Keep in mind, that the bottom of the madeleines will brown faster than the top. Don’t wait to take them out until the tops are completely golden brown. The bottoms will be too dark.
  • Tip out the madeleines immediately and allow them to cool slightly on a wire rack.

Serving Lemon Madeleines

  • Madeleines are best the day they are made and really, they are best just a couple minutes after they finish baking. Use a small sieve to sprinkle powdered sugar over the freshly-baked madeleines and eat after about 5 minutes of cooling! They have will be light and fluffy with crispy edges and soft centers. The powdered sugar adds a small amount of sweetness and the lemon flavor is bright. These are a great for breakfast, lunch, snack-time, and dinner! Many people also eat them with tea or coffee.

Storing Lemon Madeleines

  • Baked madeleines do not store well. This is one recipe where they are best eaten immediately and not kept for longer than one day in an airtight container at room temperature. They tend to dry out and get hard very quickly. However, you can keep the batter in an airtight container in the fridge, with the plastic wrap pressed onto the surface, for up to 3 days. Once the batter is made and rested, it takes almost no time at all to make fresh madeleines.

Notes

This recipe was adapted from the “Mini Madeleines” recipe in Dominique Ansel’s cookbook, Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes.

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