Delay, delay…posts are getting delayed again. Maybe it’s because I have so much on my plate and more food keeps being added as I try hard to eat what is already on the plate. What do you do when you face this kind of dilemma? Do you eat the new items while they are hot and fresh and then go back to the cold old ones later or finish off the old ones first and then start on the new ones?
My fork is busy going back and forth between the new and the old ones, and I am getting stuffed. I have so many photos clogging up my internal and external hard drives, and they are mostly, well, all are food-related. I don’t know what to do with them. Every time I stumble upon one of the photos, my memory goes back to that time…like the Madeleine cake. That is why is called La Madeleine de Proust, for remembering the things, mentioned by the author, Marcel Proust, but mine isn’t about childhood.
Bordeaux has been holding my heart for a long time, ever since my first visit. I love the atmosphere of the city; young and funky yet conservative and traditional, cheerful and romantic yet mystical and melancholic, the vineyards and the sea, and good bread, cheese and wine. Bordeaux, I think, is the true capital of gastronomy of France. You can dare me if you like. I’ve been to many other parts of France but I chose Bordeaux. To be fair, Bordeaux catered for MY gastronomic desires. The quality of bread and desserts in Lyon isn’t up to the Bordeaux standards and it’s too pork-oriented. It might be different
in the countryside of Lyon, but I haven’t experienced it yet.
I can’t talk about dear Bordeaux without mentioning this sweet little cake, the Madeleine. I was served this, freshly and exclusively made just for me at 3 AM! I was amazed how one could make this delicious cake so fast without a fuss. Still, I think the madeleine cake is the best I’ve eaten, yes, far better than the one I’m going to brag about in a minute.
The secret lies in vanilla beans. I discovered it when I returned to Bordeaux 4 years later. He had vanilla bean-infused liquor and used it for the special cake.
When I had a bowl of egg whites collected from making carbonara pasta for two days in a row, I thought what I could do with them; macaroons? well, no, cake pipe. pavlova? no, fresh berries. acibadem (amaretto in Italian)? no, bitter almond. madeleine? YES! Hang on, do I have a shell-shaped mould? No, but I can do without, but do I still have vanilla extract? Yes, still a bit, but I had to pour in a bit of cognac and shook the tube to get the vanilla stuck at the bottom. I’m not sure if I could detect any cognac flavour, perhaps a tiny but it was to subtle but I could feel that it was there, being caressed by the taste of vanilla.
I made this from the memory with a bit of help for exact measurements from la boiteabouffe and chefsimon. You can double up the amount as this delcious cake goes down really quickly. There are so many versions created by different mums! As I try to avoid using white sugar as much as I can, my version has honey and almond, which makes it unique, and I really loved the resulting taste. I hope you will like it as much as I did. Also, I didn’t make a lot because these are nice when fresh and it’s not hard to make upon craving or need for it. The shape isn’t authentic, but does it matter as long as it tastes good?
Rather, using real vanilla is what matters the most!
Madeleine Cake with Honey and Almond
Ingredients (makes 18-20)
2 egg whites
100 grams unsalted butter(extra to grease madeleine moulds)
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup flour, sifted
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract or scrap of a vanilla pod
1 tsp cognac (optional)
1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1. Grease the mould and preheat the oven to 200’c.
2. Melt butter and honey and let it cool.
3. In a bowl, whisk egg whites and sugar, and add the butter and gently stir to mix.
4. Add both flours, baking powder, salt, vanilla, zest, and gently mix.
5. Pour the batter into the mould and bake for 8-10 mins.
6. Let the cake cool a bit in the mould while making coffee or tea. I know not many will make their way on to the rack. They will go straight into your mouth from the mould!