Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lemon Madeleines & Rhubarb Jam

Remember how I mentioned in my last post about how my house smelt like lemons and failure? It was because of these silly lemon madeleines. I had made a delicious batch of rhubarb jam, which was ridiculously easy to make, and I wanted something lemon flavoured to have with it. I am a little obsessed with the lemon & rhubarb combination, ever since I tried some amazing lemon & rhubarb macarons at the Gourmet Rabbit launch at Tastevin Bistro. It is just a fantastic balance of sweet and sour. So I had to make these lemon madeleines. I thought it would be easy, I've used my trusty madeleine recipe countless times without any problems, always achieving that lovely hump on the tops of these delightful little sponge cakes. I figured I would just follow that recipe, using lemon zest as the flavouring.
But instead, I ended up attempting and failing that recipe 3 times, as well as trying a different recipe which I wasn't happy with. I couldn't understand how a recipe which I had never had issues with in the past was suddenly failing so consistently. I wasted so many eggs, so much flour and SO MUCH BUTTER. After two days and so many flat, soggy madeleines which were flung into the bin in disgust, I was ready to give up. To acknowledge defeat. But then I remembered seeing this love Ginger Powder Puff recipe on Gourmet Traveller, and it looked like it might work well as a madeleine batter. Gourmet Traveller has never failed me before, and I really wanted something to have with my awesome rhubarb jam. And HUZZAH, it worked perfectly! Not exactly the texture I like in my madeleines (I prefer mine a little crisper on the outside and a little less dry), and they didn't develop the signature humps, but that could be more my fault than the recipe.
Because of this, I was a little hesistant to call these madeleines, since they seem more like regular mini sponge cakes to me, but I figured that it would be confusing not to since I used my madeleine tin to make them. And it is nearly a génoise cake, so I think it will do to call them madeleines. But I also filled some mini muffin trays with the batter and they baked just as nicely, so there is no need to invest in a madeleine tray if you don't have one. Trust me, I've yet to get my money's worth from my madeleine tray. As for what went wrong with my usually foolproof recipe? I'm not 100% sure. I think I had forgotten how long I needed to whip my eggs and sugar for, so maybe the sugar hadn't dissolved properly which made the mixture unstable. Or perhaps the chemistry of the recipe could not handle the addition of lemon zest. If any one is game enough to reattempt the old recipe with lemon zest I would definitely encourage you, because I love the texture of those madeleines. Just to make sure you beat your eggs for at least 8 minutes!
Let me quickly talk about the amazing rhubarb jam. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make this jam, and how tasty it was! If you like rhubarb, you will love this jam. It is such a great way to use up your rhubarb, and will go well with so many things. I added a little bit of vanilla essence because rhubarb and vanilla alway pair up so nicely and it gives the jam some extra depth. The equal quantities of fruit and sugar means that the jam is on the sweet side, so it went really well with these little zesty sponge cakes. I imagine the cakes and jam would go really well with some vanilla or ginger flavoured custard as well. Even if you can't be bothered to make the madeleines, try the jam!
Lemon Madeleines & Rhubarb Jam
(makes approximately 24 madeleines and 3 small jars of jam, adapted from this recipe and this recipe)
For the jam:
3 sticks of rhubarb, washed & dried, stringy bits removed and then weighed (approx 380-400g)
Equal amount of sugar i.e. 380-400g
Rind of 1 lemon
1 tsp pure vanilla essence or 1 vanilla bean

For the madeleines:
110g (3/4 cup) self-raising flour
30g (1/4 cup) cornflour
Zest of 1 large or two small lemons
2 eggs, at room temperature
110g (1/2 cup) raw caster sugar
20g butter, melted and cooled
For dusting: pure icing sugar

To make the jam, chop rhubarb up into 1 inch pieces and place it in a medium heavy based saucepan with the sugar. Gently heat, stirring continously until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and add the lemon rind and vanilla, boiling the jam for 10 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat. Sterilise jam jars in boiling water for 10 minutes then spoon warm jam into each jar. Seal with lids and leave to cool. Store in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Triple-sieve flours into a bowl and set aside. Whisk eggs and sugar in an electric mixer until mixture is tripled in volume and holds a trail (4-6 minutes). Sift in flour mixture, in batches, folding in with a large metal spoon between additions to combine, then fold in butter and lemon zest. Spoon into two 12-hole buttered and floured madeleine or gem scone/mini muffin tins, bake until light golden (6-10 minutes), cool in tins for 5 minutes, then carefully remove and cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature with rhubarb jam.
This post is for Lisa, my lovely friend and fellow lover of all things rhubarb! Happy Birthday dear!


  1. What did you do with all the madeleines you made? I hope they didn't go to waste! But the final product looks delicious.... I noticed you used self-raising flour - maybe if you used baking powder and flour it would have risen more? Either way - looks lovely.

  2. Yum these look delicious Steph. It's great you persisted with the madeleines.

  3. Trissa - I think madeleines are traditionally made without any chemical leavening, usually only rising from the air whipped into the eggs. Which is why I was kind of cheating with the self-raising flour and why these aren't 100% madeleines :)

  4. heh nice bucket steph! madelines make me happy i can never stop at 1. or 2. or um 5

  5. It's tricky to make Madeleines with beautiful humps. I had a similar incident with an old faithful brioche recipe. Never could get the perfection as I used to. Love the rhubarb and lemon combo. You always create nice desserts.

  6. Awww thank you lovely! You are sweet like rhubarb jam. Looks delicious! So glad you finally made it work.

  7. That sounds so frustrating. So glad you found a recipe that works! It looks delicious. And the way you photographed them is gorgeous. The vanilla in the jam sounds wonderful.

  8. Oohh nooooo, you can always fling them this way if you dont want them!! Loving the colours!

  9. I often find baking to be complex alchemy. Adjust one little thing and suddenly it no longer works.

    I feel you pain as I've often been down that frustrating road, which is kinda why I don't like baking.

    If I had a madeleine tin and an inclination to bake, I'd look to infuse the zest into the melted butter to get the flavour in that way, as perhaps the oil from the zest, if put in at an earlier stage, is disrupting the foam.

    If an acid thing, maybe use baking soda to balance it out.

    I know, opinions are like a-holes but those are the things I'd try.

  10. Yay! The bucket :D Aww man, sucks about all the wastage, but I'm glad you found a recipe that worked out eventually! The combination of lemon & rhubarb sounds really yummy!

  11. You're too harsh on yourself! Lemons & failure? Imagine what my house would smell like if I tried baking this! Probably smoke and sweaty firemen. Well, they look delicious & well done on the gorgeous presentation!

  12. That happens to me with a trusted cake recipe too. But you know this madeleines and the rhubarb jam combo sound perfect. Beautiful photo, too

  13. I've always wanted to make madelines but I hate how it needs a special pan!! Looks like I need to buy one now! :)
    Would you mind checking out my blog? :D

  14. I saw your photo on TasteSpotting and had to come and take a look. I love your little rose bucket. And anything with rhubarb. Yum!

  15. So preeetttyyyy

    I feel like I've said that before though

    Moral of the story: failnami is only fail of you let it wash over you =D

  16. ohh wow these look delicious yummy! such pretty pictures as well.

  17. I bought a madeleine pan years ago and still haven't used it. Pure laziness on my part and being greedy for the tins are so pretty! Need to kick myself along and make use of it =p

  18. The rhubarb jam sounds fantastic - so simple and lovely. Oh those elusive little perfect madeleines... If they were as bad as you say they were (which I find hard to believe!) your gorgeous photos and excellent writing more than make up for it my sweet. Thank you for sharing your baking adventures. :)

  19. Mark @ Cafe Campana - Thanks! Ughh I was so close to giving up.

    chocolatesuze - Hehe I was carrying it around with me all night at your bday party! I saw it and had to buy it!

    Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - I was sad cos I usually get the humps without any problems!

    Lisa - :) <3 you!

    Erica Lea - It was very frustrating! Thanks so much!

    FFichiban - Haha will do ;) Thanks!

    Simon @ the heart of food - Thanks Simon, I did try approaching it differently with each attempt but to no avail. Pretty sure it was just that I wasn't beating my eggs long enough.

    Betty @ The Hungry Girl - Hehe the bucket :D I know, I hate wastage!

    Forager - Hahaha sweaty fireman!! Love it! Thanks so much :)

    Anh - Isn't it so annoying?? Aww thanks!

    The Urban Baker - Thanks so much!

    ajcabuang04 - As I mentioned in my post, you can do these without a special pan.

    Lynne @ CookandBeMerry - Thanks for stopping by! I love my bucket too hehe

    The Failinja - Haha I think you have :P Haha I will run to higher ground away from the failnami then!

    Natalie...- Thanks so much!

    mademoiselle délicieuse - You should use it!!! Try some plain ones, they are so so good!

    Patty - It was surprisingly easy to make the jam! Aww you are too kind, thanks!

  20. I just made this jam, added raspberries also. Turned out so good!! Boiled the filled jars for 10 mins and now vacuumed sealed so hopefully will have some pantry shelf-life. Thanks!!! :)


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