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Cardamom and Lemon Madeleines

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Madeleines are one of my favorite tea snacks. Madeleines can be made using a genoise sponge cake batter or the Madeleines de Commercy method I’ve used here. This method produces the characteristic “hump” in the center of each madeleine because the batter is allowed to rest, and the madeleines are slightly denser in texture. While it rests, the fat in the butter starts to stiffen, and when baked in the molds, the part in the center of the batter cooks slower than the sides, which helps it rise taller and create that hump. 

I’ve infused the batter with freshly zested lemons and cardamom to complement the caramel-like aroma of the browned butter. Serve these with coffee or tea. The confectioner’s sugar isn’t necessary, but I must admit I prefer a light dusting. Madeleines are notorious for overbaking and easily browning; read the notes section below for my tips. Also, read my newsletter on oven temperatures

This recipe is based on the one from “From Julia Child’s Kitchen” – First Edition by Julia Child. 

  • Yield: 2 dozen


2 large eggs at room temperature and lightly whisked

2/3 cup/130 g sugar 

4 1/2 oz/130 g all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 Tbsp to coat the pan

4 oz/115 g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing the pan

zest of 2 lemons or 1 tsp of lemon extract

1/4 tsp ground green cardamom

1/4 cup/30 g confectioner’s sugar, optional


  1. Beat the eggs, sugar, and 4 1/2 oz/130 g of flour in a large mixing bowl using a wooden spoon until there are no visible flecks of flour and the mixture turns stiff like thickened cream. Keep covered at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Melt the 4 oz/115 g of butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until the milk solids turn a dark reddish brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest and the cardamom, cover, and leave aside to cool to 150F/65C.
  3. Pour the butter with the zest and cardamom into the flour mixture and stir until combined. Transfer to a pastry bag or leave the batter in the bowl covered with cling film in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Leave the batter at room temperature until soft and pliable but not runny, about 20 minutes.
  5. Melt the remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted in the microwave or a small saucepan. Stir in the 1 Tbsp of flour to form a paste.
  6. Work in batches, assuming your pan holds a dozen madeleines. Brush the pan with a thin layer of the butter mixture.
  7. If using a pastry bag, cut the tip and pipe out enough batter to fill the mold by 3/4. Alternatively, spoon out a generous Tbsp of the batter into the molds. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The madeleines will be light brown in coloring the center, slightly golden brown on the edges, and the centers should be raised to form a hump. The madeleines will shrink at the edges and come away from the pan. Use a butter knife to loosen, then unmold and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely to room temperature.
  8. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Madeleines can also be frozen for up to 1 month in an airtight container.


  • You will need a mold to make these, and I found mine at an old thrift store in North Carolina several years ago. I recommend avoiding dark, non-stick pans because they heat up faster and brown the madeleines too much. The silicone ones aren’t that great, either. If you can’t find the classic French stainless steel molds, this will work as nicely.
  • If your oven runs hot, your madeleines will turn brown and dry. I recommend testing one madeleine and adjusting the oven temperature to avoid this. If the madeleine turns brown, reduce the oven temperature to the next lowest setting (I usually dial it down to 350F/180C). Don’t use the convection setting; stick to the regular bake mode. The top of the madeleine should be pale yellow and springy to touch in the center.
  • You can use a pastry bag or a pair of spoons to distribute the dough into the madeleine tray.
  • Never level the batter once it is in the mold, or the characteristic hump in the center will not form.
  • Use a microplane zester when extracting the zest.

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