I love using lemon in baking. Lemon tart, mousse, curd, cake, meringue pie, cheesecake… you name it, just sign me up already please. But eating it straight up unprocessed in all its sour, erosion-inducing glory, is just a no. Studying dentistry has ruined lemonades and lemon-infused drinks in general for me, even vitamin C pills. I had a major cringe by the poolside the other day seeing the lady in my lane had a healthy bottle of lemon water, wedges and all. I was compelled to educate her about the adverse effects of acidic beverages on teeth especially while dehydrated during exercise. But alas, I can’t even get my own family to brush their teeth longer than ten seconds.
You’ll notice there’s a fair bit of inconsistency among the final products. That’s because I baked them in 3 batches, or 3 experimental groups, if you like. Group 1’s batter was baked straight away without chilling at 220°C all the way through until done. Group 2 chilled in the fridge for ~20mins, and were baked at 220°C at the start, then reduced to 180°C once they puffed up. Group 3 chilled in the freezer and were baked at 180°C all the way through.
Yes, I realise there are 2 independent variables and no control group, but I wasn’t going to sit around 3 hours testing. Maybe I will one day once exams are done. Basically the results were as follows: group 1 puffed up the highest thanks to the high initial temperature, had the most golden exterior, if not just a tiny bit drier than the others. Group 2 was paler, the blueberries efficiently burst and kept more moist. Group 3 had less distinct grooves, still rose high but not as much as group 1 and were done before they turned golden all over.
Conclusion: they were all delicious and I’d eat any of them, however turning the temperature down halfway seems to ensure maximum puffing and moisture retainment. Chilling and freezing didn’t make much of a distinct difference IMO, but I’d like to investigate the duration in the future to see whether it helps the flavours mature.
Last time I made madeleines, they turned out delectable (how could they not? they were filled with caramel), but less so once they cooled down. To extend their best-before date, I adapted Blé Sucré’s (crowned by many as the best in Paris) method of dipping the madeleines in citrusy syrup to form a sugary crust, and it worked! (I checked) It’s everything in one bite: the tangy, sweet crust met by buttery soft cake with added texture and complexity of flavour from the poppy seeds; and best of all, a burst of blueberry balancing the tartness. I die.
Lemon blueberry poppyseed madeleines (makes 30 medium-sized)
(glaze adapted from Blé Sucré)
For the madeleine batter:
2 eggs (115g)
75g granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
145g self-raising flour
110g unsalted butter
1 tbsp poppy seeds
For the lemon glaze:
20g fresh lemon juice
Prepare a madeleine pan by lightly greasing (no big chunks of butter in the grooves) and flouring it.
Rub the zest and sugar together until moist and fragrant. Add to the eggs and beat until paler in colour, about 3 minutes if using an electric whisk. Gently fold in the lemon juice, sifted flour and poppy seeds. Cover and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Close to the hour mark, start melting the butter. When it’s warm and not hot, drizzle into the chilled batter, folding at the same time to incorporate. Scoop the batter into the holes about what you imagine would fill 3/4 when spread out, but don’t spread it (or about 1 tbsp). Add a blueberry in the centre if you like, but make sure to press it down so it doesn’t pop right out after baking. If you can wait, freeze for half and hour. If not, bake in an 260C/500F oven for 5 minutes, then a further 7 minutes at 180C/350F.
For the glaze, boil the sugar and juice together until the sugar has dissolved. When both the madeleines and the glaze have cooled, place the madeleines on a wire rack with a tray underneath to catch the drips. Dip and leave to dry.