Friday, December 11, 2009

Lemon and Olive Oil Madeleines

Some cookbooks are poetry. "La Cuisine des Parfums" by the Scotto sisters* is organized around flavors – spices, herbs, oils..., rather than by courses. Appetizers, entrées, desserts, side dishes, etc. are all mixed up in a delightful méli-mélo. Although confusing at first, it leads the reader to focus on the flavors at the heart of each recipe (a table at the end will help you find your way). The recipes are so well written that you can feel the love Elisabeth Scotto and her sisters (Michèle Carles and Marianne Comolli) devote to cooking and eating. You can imagine the pleasure they have at preparing each dish, which titles are an invitation to dreaming. The origins and use of each spice is also a fantastic and useful read. And Christine Fleurent's pictures are beautiful.

I had browsed this book many times, salivating. This is the kind of cookbook you read for leisure. But I hadn't had a chance to try any of the recipes yet. Last week we were invited pour le goûter (Tea Time) and I was looking for a quick and easy recipe (limited by time and an empty fridge...) that would give an alternative to the pound cake or madeleines I often bring on such occasions. The "brioches à la fleur d'oranger" (orange blossom brioches) looked delicious but I didn't have any yeast. So I decided to try the "Petits gâteaux à l'huile d'olive et au citron" (small olive oil and lemon cakes) and since I didn't have any gelatin either, I would have to do without the decoration (a lemon syrup and lemon zest gelatin). To make them look pretty, as "naked" as these cakes would be, I used madeleine molds instead of simple round molds.

Makes 32 madeleines
  • 3 oz (about 10 cL) lemon juice (that's 2 freshly pressed organic lemons or 2 oz / 5 cL of lemon juice concentrate like this one)
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest (optional... grated from organic lemons)
  • 3 oz (about 10 cL) olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 7 oz (200 g) sugar
  • 2 cups (250 g) flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  1. Zest, then press the lemons.
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar until foamy, almost white and doubled in volume (with a manual egg whisk – good upper body workout, or an electric mixer).
  3. Keep whisking and combine the lemon juice and olive oil.
  4. Slowly add the flour (sifted) and baking powder (use a wooden spoon and trace wider and wider circles in the bowl).
  5. Add the lemon zest and salt; incorporate slowly.
  6. Scoop about 1 tbsp of dough in each madeleine mold (greased).
  7. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for about 15 minutes. Remove from the molds while still warm. Cool on a plate. These madeleines can be stored several days in a tin box.
*I have the 2008 edition, in French. Unfortunately it doesn't look like it is available in English. Weirdly enough I can't find the French version on the internet either. Only the 1996 edition comes up, and is discontinued. I got this beautiful book as a birthday present from my aunt and uncle.

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