Monday, 17 September 2012

Lavender madeleines


105g flour, 70g butter, 1 tsp
lavender, 2 eggs, 65g sugar, 1
tbsp honey (I used lavender honey),
1 tsp vanilla essence,½ tsp baking powder 

Makes: 12 preparation: 2 - 4 hours

It's no secret that lavender is one of my favourite ingredients - whether used in sweet or savoury cooking it never fails to impress. Madeleines are a best beloved treat from my childhood - summers in France with these elegant little shells melting in the mouth. I have always loved to make them and especially loved to eat them. Adding lavender adds a more exotic twist to bring out the vanilla in these perfect, sweet sponges.

1) Add the lavender and butter to a milk pan, allowing it to melt slowly and infuse the butter with the maximum flavour. Add in the honey and stir through.

2) Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla for 2-4 minutes until the mixture is pale and just beginning to stiffen.

3) Sift together the flour and baking powder, then fold with a spatula into the eggs. Once combined add in the flavoured butter.

4) Put the mixture into the fridge to rest for an absolute minimum of one hour. For best results leave for 3 hours, but this can be kept overnight if you are preparing for guests.

5) Rub a light layer of butter onto your madeleine pan, then using a tablespoon scoop a quenelle sized portion of batter into each shell dip. Some people recommend to use a piping bag - personally I feel that madeleine batter shouldn't be handled any more than you can help, otherwise they lose the lightness so I would advise using a spoon.

6) Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for 12 minutes. If you're able to watch them bake through the oven door this will help you to learn whether your batter has been over handled or the moulds have been overfilled. The heat will initially cause the batter to settle into the mould but it should never spill out at the sides enough for the madeleines to touch. It should quickly bubble up into the classic "humped" shape without the centre breaking the bump like a volcano.

The madeleines should slide straight out of the mould and have a light, springy texture with slightly crispy edges. They're best eaten immediately, otherwise the sponge becomes denser.

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