Don’t worry, I am not crying my eyes out today, but I thought it would be a great excuse to also share one of my favorite French “biscuits/ petits gâteaux” (or as Nancy’s® likes to say, “small bites”). Baking a sizable batch is on my list this week, because I have been craving my little lemony, light madeleines, which so perfectly accompany my afternoon tea or coffee.
I can justify that ritual because it is quite common in Europe, and is defined as:
– The German “Kaffeekuchen” at around 2pm/ 14:00 (which I enjoyed yesterday with a half-slice of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte leftover…hmmh, lecker!)
– The French “goûter” or “café” at around 4pm/ 16:00 (the coffee part is of course for adults, but I used to enjoy a BN, fruit, yogurt, slice of baguette with Nutella or pâte de fruit, with a hot chocolate or juice as a child when coming back from school)
– The British “tea time” at around 5pm/ 17:00 (with scones, muffins or cucumber sandwiches, hmmh… Now I can’t handle the lemon custard, orange marmalade or vegemite, those items are clearly British only)
These are the three cultures inspiring my “coffee break” habits these days, but I would gladly add some tapas with vino if the calorie-count was more manageable… Maybe this summer while I am in France, since we do more of a “High Tea” or light dinner, later at night, and it is always accompanied by my father’s staple wine, such as Pinot Noir, Tokay Pinot Gris or Riesling.
Wiki reference: “Referring to the biblical legend of Mary Magdalene washing the Christ’s feet with her tears.”
Mary Magdalene was known to have wept deeply when she found out Jesus died. During my university years, I actually played her role in a fictional theater play, which took place in court and the prosecution was in charge of finding “who stole Jesus’ body”. The accused, the disciples, had to testify about where they were during the three days following his crucifixion. My character was very emotional, as she was the first follower who had “seen” Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane. In the play, the prosecutor had her replay the scene of her encounter with the gardener as a substitute for Jesus, insisting that it was much more likely to have been any man, that her story was the fruit of her imagination, etc. Under the pressure of the prosecutor’s statements, I had to cry, slap the gardener and shout that it was not him, that it truly had been Jesus… an enjoyable, dramatic, emotional role!
Now how was this delicious little dessert named after Magdalene? Well, it is named after someone who is named after her… The full story involves a brilliant maid named Madeleine (a common first name in France along with Mary and all the saints) in the northeastern region of Lorraine, who saves the day with a tour de force of pâtisserie, using Saint-Jacques shells to make a dessert for a Polish king, when the pastry chef drops the ball and runs away. They are the little cakes I like to make when I have unexpected guests: easy to make, wonderful presentation, delicious taste… and they keep well in a cookie jar!
Recette des Madeleines de ma grand-mère Lydie Sigrist-Wurtz
- 4 œufs / 4 eggs
- 160 g de sucre / 5.6 oz. (a little over ¾ cup) granulated sugar
- 200 g de farine tamisée / 7 oz. (2 cups) sifted flour
- 140 g de beurre / 5 oz. butter
- 1 cuillerée à café de levure en poudre / 1 tsp. Baking powder
- Zeste d’un citron râpé / lemon zest
Fondre le beurre, ajouter les œufs, le zeste et le sucre, mélanger rapidement au mixer. Ajouter la farine tamisée préalablement mélangée avec la levure. Laisser reposer 1 heure.
Ajouter une grande cuillerée de la pâte à madeleine dans chaque petit moule. Faire cuire 4 mn à 220 °C, puis 8 mn à 200 °C. Démouler immédiatement après la cuisson et laisser refroidir sur une grille. Dégustez !
Mix melted butter with eggs, zest and sugar well (preferably with a mixer). Add sifted flour with baking powder already mixed in. Leave for 1 hour.
Add a large tablespoon of the Madeleine dough in each little mold, using a Madeleine pan. Bake for 4 mn at 425 °F and for 8 mn at 400 °F. Take out of pan immediately and let cool on a grid. Enjoy!