Um, English Madeleines? But oh no, aren’t madeleines French? I was a bit flummoxed myself, when I chanced upon this recipe; but here’s the thing – amidst the great battle between the English and French on their ownership of desserts, this one is a victim too. We don’t know if the French version precedes the ‘English’ one, but we do know that both of them are vastly different in terms of taste and sight. I don’t have to throw light on how great French madeleines are – lovely seashell shaped génoise sponge cakes, lighter than feather. They are rather posh, not only in their appeal but even in terms of their ingredients – I mean what’s not sophisticated about ground almonds?
While the French version is like Chanel – understated yet classy, the English avatar is kitschy (well, there’s no surprise there), with a bit of drama and extravagance, like McQueen if you will. But you can’t deny how utterly pretty these cakes look and they taste ridiculously good. And how did I land up encountering this recipe? When Pavan and I were dating, he bought me this book ‘Cake Magic’ by Kate Shirazi because he knew how much I love baking. When I was glancing through the book, this was one of the recipes that called out to me because it took me back to childhood days. I would go to these bakeries whose cake shelves still experienced a severe Victorian hangover – from tea cakes to Madeira, this was one of them.
- 100 g self-raising flour, sifted
- 100 g caster sugar
- 100 g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 2-3 drops of vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp strawberry jam, sieved
- 75 g dessicated coconut
- 8, glace or tinned cherries
- Preheat the oven to 160 C. Butter and flour a 8-hole muffin pan.
- Beat the butter and sugar together for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one. Beat further till the mixture becomes pale yellow and creamy. Add vanilla extract and mix again.
- Pour the butter mixture into the sifted flour. Fold well, scrapping the bottom of the bowl.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes until the cakes rise (just like cupcakes).
- Rest the cakes for about 10 minutes. Slice of the cake tops, so that the surface is one flat layer. (I know it is a sheer waste of all that lovely sponge, but save it for another day to have with honey or even Nutella :-))
- Glaze the cakes with strawberry jam on top and sides. Be generous. Now, coat them with dessicated coconut. Just dip them and roll them in the bowl of coconut, so they are evenly coated. Place a cherry on top of every cake.
Ps: The traditional English Madelienes are prepared in dariole moulds (con shapped, kulfi-like molds). I didn’t have one so I chose to use a muffin pan instead.