We could talk about how rubbish my baking has been of late, how my new oven is as dodgy as the plot lines of Revenge, about my recent obsession with Michael Fassbender and closely connected fascination with re-watching scenes from the 2011 version of Jane Eyre...
But lets cut straight to the butter and sugar. Madelines are a French shell shaped sponge. You do need to buy the speciality tin to make them, which are relatively tricky to get your hands on. The tin featured here is a "Masterclass" tin and it is heavy duty with a strong anti-stick coating (although you still need to take time to properly grease the tins). Let's face it- it's not exactly essential bakeware, a splurge really. But one look at these adorable shells and you will be smitten by the delicate shape that remind me of mermaids and fairy tales.
Leaving the batter to sit overnight is the key. The perfect madeline has a hump shape on the back, as seen in this photo here. The first time I made them I left the batter just for an hour and a result was a hunchback-less and heavier madeline.
From Neven Maguire
50 g butter (diced, plus extra for greasing)
25 g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
seeds scraped from ¼ vanilla pod
1 egg white (at room temperature)
0.50 tsp finely grated orange zest
50 g icing sugar (sifted)
25 g ground almonds
1. Brush the tins with melted butter and then sprinkle with flour. Put in the fridge to set for 2 hours.
2. Brown the butter by placing in a small pan and melt on a gently heat. Once melted crank up the heat to MEDIUM and simmer. The butter will crack and sizzle, this is fine. Once the butter goes light brown and the crackling stops the butter is ready. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
3. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the vanilla seeds, egg white, orange zest, sifted icing sugar and ground almonds. Using an electric beater, beat the ingredients until well combined and smooth. 4. Gradually add the brown, melted butter and slowly mix for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 2cm (3/4in) plain nozzle and chill the bag in the fridge for at least 2 hours until firm.
5. When ready to cook, preheat the over to 180ºC (350ºC/Gas 4). Pipe the mixture into the moulds, releasing it from the nozzle with a knife dipped in warm water and using the knife to spread the mixture a little in the tin. Don’t worry if the mixture doesn’t completely fill the moulds as it will spread when cooking.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly golden around the edges.
7. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a rack.