Immortalized by Marcel Proust in his Remembrance of Things Past, Madeleines (mah-dell-eyn) are small French sponge cakes baked in shell- shaped moulds. Madeleines first became fashionable in France during the eighteenth century.
4 oz. plus
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 oz. plus
2 tablespoons flour, sifted
4 oz. castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to fairly hot 400CF (Gas Mark 6, 200°C). Lightly grease 36 madeleine moulds with the 2 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle the moulds with the 2 tablespoons of flour and knock out any excess.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla essence together with a wire whisk or rotary beater until the mixture is thick.
Very gradually fold in the remaining flour with a metal spoon. Add the remaining butter and mix well.
Fill the moulds three-quarters full with the batter. Place the moulds on a baking sheet and bake in the centre of the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of one cake comes out clean.
Remove the madeleines from the oven and leave them to cool in the moulds for 5 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack. When they are completely cold, they are ready to serve.