The legend of madeleines and how everything with a French name sounds aphrodisiac
“In general, every dish with a French name looks aphrodisiac: it’s not really the same serve mushrooms with garlic or champignon à la provençales, bread and fish eggs or croque-monsieur au caviar”. That’s what one of my favourite writer, Isabel Allende, says in her book “Aphrodite” and I really agree with her. French is such a romantic and musical language that a dish with a French name often reminds us something beautiful and luxurious. When I think at the French cuisine I think at Alain Ducasse and at Pierre Herme, but the reality is that the French, like the Italians, have a very old and strong food culture and this kind of culture has necessarily its origins in very good raw materials and in the simplicity of recipes that can be passed from a generation to another.
Madeleines history is really the perfect photography of what I say. The legend says that, during the making of a gala dinner, there was a terrible fight in the kitchen and the pastry chef went away. The Duke of Lorraine was desperate: what could he offer to his important guests as dessert? His butler helped him introducing a waitress that was ready to cook small cakes with a shell shape using her grandma recipe.
It was of course a big success! The Duke called the waitress to know the name of these incredible cakes but she didn’t know what to say. Then the Duke wanted to know the name and the place of birth of the waitress and, because of her name was Madeleine and she was born in Commercy, these biscuits took the name of Madeleine of Commercy !
200 g of sugar
zest of 1 lemon
200 g of flour (2 cups)
10 g of backing powder (2 tablespoon)
100 g of butter
Beat the eggs. Add the sugar and the lemon zest. Put the mixture in a water bath (bain-marie) mixing very lightly till all the sugar is melted. Add the sifted flour and the backing powder and keep stirring. Melt the butter and add to the mixture. Let cool for 10 minutes. Put in the greased and floured moulds and cook in preheated oven at 220°C (428°F) for 10 minutes.