I don’t know about you, but this cold, wet, snowy weather of late is freaking me out a bit.
In the last century when I first landed on Monaco’s shores, the winter weather was fairly predictable. Every day, all winter, you’d throw open the curtains in the morning to deep blue skies and dazzling sunshine. These days it’s more likely that your morning view will be a dull grey sky and people wearing winter coats running down the street with wind-whipped hair.
I was feeling bad for all the tourists who came to Menton this weekend to take part in the annual Fête du Citron, only to be met by rain, wind and hail when they were probably promised sun, blue skies and a light breeze.
While the storms were swirling outside, I was huddled in my kitchen next to a warm oven making these Madeleine whose flavour of lemon, olive oil and cornmeal capture the essence of Menton when it’s bathed in sunshine.
Cornmeal Madeleine with Lemon and Olive Oil
Makes 12 large or 24 mini Madeleine
11 Minutes for large Madeleine
7 Minutes for mini Madeleine
Madeline pan with 12 large indents OR 2 Madeleine pans with 12 small indents each
Hand held or stand mixer
Bain Marie or double boiler
Pastry bag or plastic freezer bag
2 large eggs
72g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
40g (1/4 cup) medium-grind cornmeal (not instant polenta)
140g (1 cup) sifted all purpose flour
8g (2 teaspoons) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of one large lemon
35g (35ml) 2% milk
50g (50ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon each of softened butter and flour for greasing the Madeleine pan
1. Mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. Prepare the sponge. Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of your KitchenAid if you have one. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir the mixture until the sugar melts and it feels just warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and whip the mixture on high until it triples in volume and is pale yellow and very thick.
3. Prepare the batter. Sprinkle one third of the flour mixture on top of the sponge and gently fold together until it’s almost completely incorporated. Stir in half of the milk, and mix in the remaining flour mixture in two additions. Stir in the lemon zest.
When the mixture is smooth and all of the flour is incorporated, gently stir in the olive oil until it’s smooth.
4. Chill the batter. Cover the bowl with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes for up to 3 hours. In the meantime, prepare your pan(s).
5. Brush the indentations with the tablespoon of softened butter, sprinkle with flour to coat thoroughly and tap out the excess.
6. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°c).
7. Scoop the mixture into a piping bag or a plastic freezer storage bag and snip the tip to a little wider than width of your thumb.
8. Pipe the batter into each of the indentations. Starting with the tip at the wide end of the indentation squeeze the batter evenly until you reach the small end of the indentation. When you reach the small end, stop squeezing the bag and pull it up and away from you, back towards the wide end of the indentation. It’s OK to leave a little tip sticking up.
9. Bake the Madeleine. Ideally, they should be no darker than light brown.
-A fruity olive oil like the one from St Michel in Menton is best in this recipe. Fructus by Ardoino is one that would work well also.
-You can use any grind of cornmeal in this recipe but medium will give you the best texture. Just don’t use instant polenta or your Madeleine will be heavy and dense.
-If you don’t have a piping bag you can use a large plastic freezer bag instead. Just spoon the batter into the bag, cut a hole the same width as your thumb in one corner and squeeze away.
-Be careful not to overheat the egg mixture when you’re warming it or you’ll get scrambled eggs!
-If you prefer, you can replace the olive oil with a more traditional beurre noisette. You’ll need about 80g of butter to make 56g (2.5 ounces) of beurre noisette.
-Don’t over mix the batter. Treat it gently as though you were making muffins.