Classic French Butter Cake Lemon Madeleines Recipe. Madeleines are light and lemony and simple to make if you follow the directions carefully. You’ll be rewarded with unique little cakes that are a little crispy on the outside and spongy on the inside.
What Are Madeleines?
Even though small and cookie size, Madeleines really aren’t cookies at all, but are a traditional very small French sponge cake with a distinctive shell-like shape. They were actually categorized as Petit Fours in Culinary School. A Petit Four is a small bite-sized confectionery or savory appetizer.
The Madeleine shape is achieved by a using a pan with shell shaped molds. Madeleines are popular little tea and dessert cakes that are delightful to look at and lovely to eat.
If you’ve followed my blog for a few years, you’ll know I’m not much of a baker. That is, until I attended Cook Street Culinary School in 2017. The time spent in the Pastry Kitchen was an incredibly valuable piece of my extensive education there.
My first weeks at school, I was assigned to the Pastry Kitchen under the direction of Jenna Dilullo, a very skilled pastry chef. Jenna studied at Johnson and Wales and at the Culinary Institute before landing in Denver.
Being trained in the Pastry Kitchen meant arriving at 6:30 a.m. every morning. On entering the Pastry Kitchen, I’d find the day’s tasks written on the tiled walls in black marker. After studying the lineup, reading the recipes twice, we’d time block, organize and gather equipment to have each assignment completed by around 12:30 or 1:00 p.m. A lofty task since the assignment sheet included 2 – 3 loaves of bread, a couple of desserts and perhaps a pastry, or two. It was a great challenge but rewarding challenge to complete the list and a delicious end to a day flour filled day.
The morning Lemon French Madeleines were written on that wall, I became really nervous. “French”. Difficult, fussy and tedious came to mind.
Much to my surprise, being a novice baker at the time, I found these lemon Madeleines to be fairly easy. I was extremely proud of my adorable little French cakes, and right then and there decided they would become a staple in my home kitchen.
Since my time in Culinary School, I’ve read a couple of articles about making Madeleines with one author warning how fussy and difficult they can be to make. I simply don’t agree. Just go out and buy yourself a couple of Madeleine pans and follow instructions.
They’re fun to make and popular. People seem to be drawn to their beautiful lemony color and delicate shape.
And as I learned in Culinary School Pastry Kitchen – Read the recipe twice before starting, and then gather ingredients and equipment.
Mise en place is not optional. And it’s a very good habit to get into when cooking anything. Also learned in Culinary School, when baking, always use a scale to measure ingredients.
I found the Madeleine pan at Sur la Table. They had two Madeleine pans with two sizes of the shell molds. I bought the pan that offered the larger sized shells. That’s the size we used at school.
French Butter Cake Lemon Madeleines Recipe
I hope you won’t let the word “French” intimidate, and you give this lemon Madeleines Recipe a try. It’s very rewarding, very manageable and and these small cakes are a fresh tasting dessert.
Once you make this recipe please come back and give the recipe a star rating. And leave a comment about your experience with the recipe.
Madeleines come in many flavors, so if you’ve made them and flavored them in a unique way, let me know, I’d love to give them a try.
Looking for more French dessert recipes? Don’t miss this one for French Pear Tart Bourdaloue
French Butter Cakes. Lemon Madeleines Recipe
- 4 whole eggs
- 8 ounces sugar
- 6 ounces cake flour sifted
- 4 ounces all purpose flour sifted
- zest of 2 lemons
- 8 ounces butter melted and cooled to body temperature
- Whip eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl with a whip attachment until 3 x volume.
- Add zest and flours and fold to combine.
- Fold in butter until combined.
- Set aside for 20 minutes.
- Pipe into lightly greased madeleine pans, no more than 1/2 full.
- Bake in preheated 375 degree oven until they bounce back to the touch when the center is pressed. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Let cool 5 minutes then turn out of the pans.
An affiliate link to the Madeleine pan has been included in this post. I participate in the Amazon Affiliate Program. If you purchase the pan using the link provided, I make a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Thank you for this recipe. They turned out beautiful and delicious. I just have a couple of questions or comments that you might be able to answer. I did not see the bump or hump on the back that they usually develop. It was slightly there on some of them. Also, I have a 3″ Madeleine pan, so I thought this was the biggest size, but I ended up with 36 cakes, which is not a bad thing. Do these freeze well? I won’t add the powered sugar until I take them out of the freezer to thaw. Your thoughts. They are so good and thank you so much. Susan
John / Kitchen Riffs says
Madeleines are great! And you’re right — they’re not hard to make. Plus their shape is adorable. Terrific post — thanks.
Abbe@This is How I Cook says
I’ve been baking madeleines since Zoe made them for extra credit in Frenvh class. We love them. Besides the basic I’ve also made them with rosewater and they were fabulous. Plus they keep a long time! Nice post.
Yes the The French butter cakes Madeleine l love making desert so looks yummy l will make for my family thank you for the reciper
Rocky Mountain Woman says
These look so good! Perfect ending to my rather heavy, steak Valentine’s Day dinner!
I have metal Madeleine pans, not the non-stick. Do you grease them with butter?
Jean | Delightful Repast says
Lea Ann, I love madeleines and yours look perfect. I, too, am an Amazon affiliate, but haven’t found it very profitable. I’m glad you mentioned it. I’ve put a note on my computer to start my Amazon shopping from your website so you can get the commission. We can’t get a commission on our own purchases, so we might as well let someone else!
Heather Blake says
These are gorgeous Lea Ann!