When my daughter was five we went to Victoire’s house and baked Madeleines. Our friend Brenda came too.
My little one helped mix the soft butter with the sugar. She buttered the pans, and buttered herself too. She licked her fingers a lot.
It was a cool fall day, and we opened the windows so we could place the pans of baked golden Madeleines on the sills to cool before popping them out of their shell impressions in the warm pans.
Then we ate them up in startling numbers while sipping tea from Mariage Fréres out of large porcelain cups. This is what we do at Victoire’s house.
A week or two later Victoire sent me a letter in the mail with a beautifully designed recipe card attached to red paper. It was, of course, for Madeleines.
Fastforward to this fall. My daughter is nine.
Victoire’s pretty recipe card has moved around my kitchen, in varying places of prominence. But I’ve never baked the Madeleines because I didn’t have the special pan with the shell shaped molds. I mentioned this casually to my friend Britta, who lives in France and frequents flea markets on the weekend. I mentioned how I had the recipe, but was on the lookout for a pan.
Britta and I have written to each other for nearly two years. She writes My Black Book. A few weeks ago she visited me here in Vermont—our first meeting in person. And she brought me a Madeleine pan (and many other delights from France and Germany). The pan is a thing of beauty all in itself—patinaed with age and years of baking. I wonder what the kitchens looked like where this pan was used. I propped it against the wall near our table and admired it throughout the week, thinking of Britta and her generous spirit.
I easily found Victoire’s recipe, and last Sunday, while the rain poured down, my 9 year old and I buttered the pan and mixed the dough, using eggs our hens had laid that morning. The dough was bright yellow from the deep color of their yolks and the Madeleines came out perfectly.
The only thing missing was the company of the two friends who made our afternoon baking possible. Perhaps one day we’ll all share them together.
- 22 T. of very soft unsalted butter
- 6 eggs
- 1-1/2 c. sugar
- 1 t. vanilla
- 2 c. sifted flour
- Preheat the oven to 410 F.
Mix soft butter and sugar thoroughly to get a light yellow cream.
Add the eggs and blend until you have a very smooth batter.
Slowly add and mix in the flour.
Butter the madeleine pan well.
Spoon batter into the molds and bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges are golden.
Cool the pan for a few minutes before taking them out of the pan.