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Julia Child’s Madeleines de Commercy

It’s impossible to cook a Julia Child recipe without summoning her in some way.  From the first moment, you can feel her peering over your shoulder – self-assured, encouraging, generous.  Once you’ve started, you’ll do anything to keep her there,  so I’m always on the look-out for Julia Child cookbooks.  Just before my last birthday, I found a second-hand copy of From Julia Child’s Kitchen that included this recipe for les Madeleines de Commercy.  When the Cooking Channel invited bloggers to celebrate her upcoming birthday by posting about one of her recipes, I knew which one I wanted to make.

This recipe is everything I love about Julia Child (I’m sorry but I just can’t call her Julia).  Well before Madeleines were readily available, wrapped in plastic and holding their breath at any given Starbucks, she was trying to find the her own way back to the perfect Proustian Madeleine, part cake, part cookie and made to crumble in tea.  After featuring Madeleines à la génoise on her show, she responded to a viewers desire to see the heavier Madeleines, with the hump in the middle, made famous by the bakers of Commercy (and of course Marcel Proust) with this recipe.

Based on Pierre Lacam’s Le Nouveau Mémorial de la Pâtisserie et des Glaces, the batter rests for an hour to allow the butter to congeal so that the hump will form during baking.  I’d made them once before and tried to adapt them to my Kitchen Aid mixer, an unnecessary step.  Julia Child had seen the electric mixer and the beaters, if they were called for, she would have told us.  Limiting myself to a mixing bowl and wooden spoon was oddly liberating, a reminder that modern conveniences aren’t always convenient.  I could have even done without the specialized Madeleine pans with the shell-shaped depressions.  Her husband, Paul, believed early cooks used cockle shells and they tested it with ribbed scallop shells that worked.  As they were baking, I could imagine whipping up a batch on a dessert island (provided it was stocked with unbleached, all-purposed flour as well).

Rested, scooped and baking, they were at the halfway point when I started to get nervous.  The batter had spread evenly to fill the shells but there were no humps in sight.  With only a couple of minutes left, they started to emerge and I breathed a sigh of relief.  Unmolded and wobbling back and forth like newborns, I had the same question as Julia Child.  Wondering why they should be baked in shell-shaped molds if they’re served hump side up, hiding the pretty ridges that were formed, she regrets “that only the ancient bakers of Commercy can say, if they could but mumble to us from their tombs.”  For once, she didn’t have the answer, but it was comforting to know that even Julia Child looked for ghosts in her kitchen.

Les Madeleines de Commercy/The Madeleines with The Hump on Top

Original recipe found in  From Julia Child’s Kitchen by Julia Child.

2 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
4 ounces unsalted butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons for buttering the molds (total of 5 1/4 ounces)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
3 drops of lemon juice (or 2 of lemon and 2 of bergamot)

2 large Madeleine pans

Per original recipe, all ingredients should be brought to room temperature before mixing so that the melted butter does not congeal in the batter before the ingredients have blended together.

Combine flour and sugar in a mixing bowl and add three quarters of the eggs.  Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon to blend into a heavy cream – if very stiff, add a little bit of the remaining egg, one droplet at a time.  Set aside for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring all of the butter to a boil until it begins to brown very lightly.  Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and tablespoon of flour in a small bowl and set aside.

Stir the rest of the butter over cold water until cool but still liquid.  Beat the remaining bit of egg into the batter and stir in the cool butter.  Stir in the salt, vanilla, grated lemon zest, lemon juice (and bergamot if using).  Cover the batter, and set aside in the refrigerator for at least one hour.  Meanwhile, paint the Madeleine cups with a light coating of the browned butter and flour mixture, wiping up any pools that form in the bottom.  Set aside or refrigerate if the  kitchen is warm.

Preheat the oven to 375°.  Using a spoon and rubber spatula, drop a rounded tablespoonful of batter into each Madeleine cup.  Do not spread the batter to fill the mold.  Repeat with remaining batter and mold.  Set pans on the middle rack and bake for about 15 minutes.  The batter will spread on its own to fill the cups and a hump will gradually form in the middle.  Unmold onto a rack, humped side up.

Serve as is, or sprinkle tops with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.*

Makes 2 dozen Madeleines.

Notes:  When cool, they can also be wrapped and frozen for later.

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78 Comments Post a comment
  1. I have every book Julia has written and I adored her then and now.

    You did a beautiful job on these madeleins.

    Thanks

    7 August 2010
  2. I think you’ve made Julia Child proud!

    8 August 2010
  3. I absolutely love madelines – the perfect blend of cake and cookies and cake. And you did these right. They look perfect.

    8 August 2010
  4. Catalina #

    My favorite favorite! Today I ate fake Madeleines from Starbucks! I would pay big bukcs for urs! The image is beautiful too! :)

    9 August 2010
    • hungrysofia #

      If you’re at Starbucks they’re not a bad choice!

      9 August 2010
  5. Oh, I love Madeleines…

    Never made them myself, only ever eat them when I’m in Paris…:-)

    Has made a note of this blog for the recipe…:-)

    Cheers…

    14 August 2010
  6. Karen #

    I am actually making this recipe now…they are in the oven. I did not have the time to let it rest to achieve the famous ‘hump’ so we’ll see in a moment whether they’ll do it! But it’s for a class of 6 year olds taking French so…I think just the fact it’s a treat will be enough!
    Ahh…and the hump worked. I must have had just enough time resting that it pulled together enough. Thanks for the recipe!

    12 February 2011
    • hungrysofia #

      That’s great! I hope they enjoy them!

      12 February 2011
  7. Catalina Llano #

    I would do anything to have some of these babies now!!! Mmmmmmm!

    12 February 2011
  8. annie #

    hi, let the batter rest in the fridge for 1 hour? thanks

    23 June 2011
    • hungrysofia #

      I try to let it rest in the fridge at least one hour.

      23 June 2011
      • Pearl #

        I made it! Delicious!
        Thanks xoxo

        29 August 2012
        • hungrysofia #

          I’m so happy the turned out well for you!

          29 August 2012
  9. jamie #

    You say “Stir in the in salt…”, but you haven’t mentioned salt in the ingredients list…

    Anyway, I just put a pinch in for good measure.

    I tried this recipe, and I found that browning the butter gave the madeleines a unique, caramelly flavour that I haven’t quite come across before. Quite rich :)

    28 June 2011
    • hungrysofia #

      Thank you for catching that – it is a pinch of salt! So happy you liked them. They’re definitely a little darker and richer than other madeleines but it’s a nice change.

      28 June 2011
  10. pam #

    I am so glad to have come across your article. I’m a fairly good baker that’s why when I decided do a batch of madeleines last weekend and was unsuccesful I was really disappointed at myself. Upon reading your article I’ve gained a new light on making madeleines and will gladly try it again. Thank you.

    19 July 2011
    • hungrysofia #

      That’s great to hear! Good luck and please let me know how they come out!

      20 July 2011
  11. pam #

    hi,

    Help! I tried it again last night and unfortunately, it did not come out as I hoped. Firstly, it didn’t have the hump, taste-wise is good, texture is definitely off, it did not have the cookie effect that I get with other madeleines. I might have missed something but I have no clue what it is. After reading the recipe again and the comments, I noticed that I only set it aside for an hour at the kitchen counter but not in the fridge, is that a big deal? Anyway, I’m not losing hope I will try it again this weekend.

    22 July 2011
    • hungrysofia #

      The original recipe didn’t specify whether it needed to go in the fridge. I usually do because my kitchen get very hot in the summer and I now other recipes call for chilling in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to three. I’ll make that more clear in the recipe. Here’s some more information from David Leibovtz if you’re up to trying again: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/12/humpy-madeleine/

      22 July 2011
  12. I made one batch of this recipe and they were a bit dense. But since I have sworn by Julia Child recipes in the past i decided it was worth another shot, this time I added more egg, probably 2 3/4 eggs total, and that helped get a more creamy batter started. It might just be that the eggs were not quite ‘large’ enough. I was also nervous that the eggs and sugar weren’t beaten together first but they were still spongy and delicious inside. I also added about 3/4 T of dried lavendar for fun and it was a nice surprise.

    10 December 2011
  13. Keeping warm baking, furnace will be fixed tomorrow !

    27 December 2011
  14. M.K. #

    Hi – looking forward to trying this recipe! What sort of madeleine pan do you use…I’m torn between the tin and the nonstick. Thoughts?

    30 December 2011
    • hungrysofia #

      I prefer my tin madeleine pan but then it’s better quality than the non-stick one I have which is dark and browns them too quickly. Let me know how it works for you!

      30 December 2011
  15. Annabelle #

    Thank you for posting this, you write beautifully! I’ve just put mine in the oven. Fingers crossed!

    Something readers may be interested to know:
    I bought my madeleine pan at William Sonoma. The lady that served us had studied pastry in France. Anyway, she suggested putting a baking sheet in the oven (while preheating) on which to set the madeleine pan. This is supposed to help even out the heat, and prevent the underside from over cooking.

    2 January 2012
    • hungrysofia #

      Thank you and thanks for passing on the tip! I’ll definitely have to try that next time. Hope they turned out well!

      2 January 2012
      • L Dahm #

        These turned out beautifully for me. Perfect texture, hump, everything. I used a nonstick Norpro mini Madeleine pan from Amazon and followed the directions explicitly–though I used a Kitchen Aid Mixer for the batter. I also did put in a pan while preheating and that helped too. I baked them for 10 minutes and sweet perfection…

        19 January 2012
  16. Sue Cole #

    I have a shiny tin pan but have heard that if you wrap aluminum foil, shiny side out, on the bottom of your Teflon pan, it will help keep the bottoms from over-browning

    16 March 2012
  17. I love how you’ve incorporated th curiousity from Julia Child into the basic instructions of making Madeleines. Thank you for your entertaining story

    8 June 2012
  18. Madeleine's mom #

    Excited to make these with my daughter who is named Madeleine! I have a question–what does it mean to “stir the rest of the butter over cold water”? Like, put the mixing bowl into the sink filled with cold water? Any help appreciated. Thanks!

    16 June 2012
    • hungrysofia #

      Hello, You can set the butter over a larger Bowl with cold water and stir until cool. Just a few minutes before adding the egg. Hope that helps!

      16 June 2012
  19. Madeleine N. #

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! I used the Joy of Cooking recipe twice and they never turned out right, I’m hoping that this recipe will work out, but if it’s Julia Child I’m sure it will!
    Good to know that there are still some lovers of the delicious little treats I was named after!

    12 August 2012
  20. stephanie #

    easy to do with outstanding results. I added a little coconut to one batch and melted chocolate for dipping – delicious.

    19 August 2012
  21. You write beautifully Sofia, there’s so much here that you ‘ve captured that is true – how sometimes the bare essentials are sufficient to yield excellent results, and how we all – high, low, celebrity…..experience the same things…….ghosts in my kitchen! I love the phrase

    26 October 2012
    • hungrysofia #

      Thank you so much!

      28 October 2012
  22. Dawn Müller #

    I have to say, I found this recipe and hesitated to make it because at first glance the steps to make it seemed like a lot and sometimes my brain can’t wrap itself around such a delicate and precise recipe! I even did the first step of mixing the flour and sugar and almost backed out, quickly checking other recipes to see if I could change to a different one…in the end, I followed through with this awesome recipe and they turned out AMAZING!! Way better than I could have imagined. I used to manage a French Bakery in San Francisco and have been dying to make these ever since I left my job there. Thank you for sharing this! They had a perfectly buttery nutty flavor and were moist and not too cakey. I will definitely be making this again!

    29 December 2012
    • hungrysofia #

      I’m so happy you liked it and, most importantly, that it worked for you!

      29 December 2012
  23. Patrick #

    How do you thaw madeleines? I tried thawing some at room temperature, and they didn’t seem to taste the same.

    14 January 2013
  24. Mikal #

    these came out better than my first attempt using another recipe. I have a non stick pan so I’ll skip the butter next time (I buttered and floured liek it says and they came out too brown) also I need to be more consistent with the measurement, as some were too small and got crispy. but those that were the right size were delicious, nice small crumb, great texture and flavor..

    18 January 2013
  25. frances #

    This recipe has no baking powder, and the eggs are not beaten to light and fluffy. does the batter rise with a hump?

    Thanks,
    Frances

    25 January 2013
    • hungrysofia #

      Between the batter resting and chilling the hump does rise. Let me know how it works!

      26 January 2013
  26. Rae #

    After my third trial of making these, this is perfect. Certainly does not compare to the Allrecipes version,or the joyofbaking. Delicious,better than starbucks,and I cant stop eating them. thanks for the recipe. If 1/2 tsp of baking powder is added, would they be lighter?

    29 March 2013
  27. I just finished making a batch, which only yielded 18 cookies. They were heavy, crispy, and a bit bitter from the lemon rind (really from half a lemon?). I followed the directions exactly as appeared and used the highest quality ingredients. When mixing the flour, sugar, and egg never was it creamy, always super stiff. My pans were non-stick, so if I decide to try this recipe again I will skip the butter and flour.

    31 March 2013
    • hungrysofia #

      They’re definitely on the heavy side and made for dunking but I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy them.

      31 March 2013
  28. Made this recipe for my baking club garden party theme last evening and they were a hit! This was a group of pastry chefs from the Boston area so well-done! I wanted to note that I needed to add a third egg. 2 large brown, cage-free eggs didn’t cut it b/c the batter was way too stiff. Perhaps my eggs are just on the smaller side? In any case, they were so good that I made them again tonight and will probably bring them to my friends in Montreal when we go for a visit later this month.

    Thanks!

    17 April 2013
    • hungrysofia #

      That’s great! I’m so happy it worked out!

      17 April 2013
  29. Leo #

    I do not know how to explain the pleasure and happiness I had experienced when I tasted these madeleines, I eat 28 ounces of these in last two days, I felt like as if I got married to my true love and went on honeymoon. I was waking up in the middle of the night and going for a few madeleines its so hard to resist. And I am well know for my discipline. But It was Love in first bite. thanks for the recipe.
    Leo

    1 July 2013
    • hungrysofia #

      I’m so happy you enjoyed them!

      1 July 2013
  30. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing issues with your site.

    It seems like some of the written text within
    your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them too?
    This could be a issue with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Thank you

    28 July 2013
  31. joseem42 #

    I have made these twice last week. The first time they came out tiny and dry so I decided to add a third egg (I used large eggs) . Perfect. Plump, bumpy, crunchy on the outside and moist inside. A hint of lemon and oh the brown butter taste. I have found my husband sneaking down the stairs at midnight to eat one… Or two. They didn’t last through the weekend. Julia knew what she was doing!

    25 August 2013
  32. Tom Kennedy #

    Back in 1967 or 68 I took off a semester of University to teach myself to cook from Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. At the end of the semester I had a big dinner to show off all I had learned. Now I understand what I had learned from Julia was formidable. I even made the French bread with steam brick. I think the Madeleines were the first thing I ever made and she recommendd Orange flower water for flavoring. The were delicious. So lucky to have lived during her time.

    17 September 2013
  33. Linda B #

    Thank you so much! I followed your instructions to the letter and these are perfect. I am so happy!

    29 October 2013
  34. Hello Sofia;

    Great, I have been trying to find out this recipe for a while… It is great that you have posted it here linking to Julia Child´s “madeleines de Commercy”…

    Many thanks then, Cheers, Aquileana :)

    1 November 2013
  35. Do these get stale the next morning? i have been on a quest to make madeleines that stay moist like the ones from sugar bowl bakery :(

    11 November 2013
    • hungrysofia #

      They are definitely dense but I’d say still fresh up to until the next day. But then I always use them to dunk in tea or coffee so that makes up for a lot.

      12 November 2013
  36. This is THE Madeleine recipe. I followed it exactly, except that I baked them in a convection oven at 350 for 15 minutes. I was a little skeptical at first because the batter seemed way too thick, but I kept stirring, and magically, it loosened up. I was also surprised at how the batter bubbled while it rested. The cookies rose beautifully in the oven and were just perfect!

    9 January 2014
  37. Which of the versions was better? The darker crispier ones or the lighter ones?

    9 February 2014
  38. Margaret #

    Oh how delightful. I am sitting enjoying a cup of tea and a gorgeous Madeleine. I followed the recipe except that I used 3 eggs after having read some other comments. It is the first time I have tried to make them and will probably make another batch tomorrow. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1 June 2014
  39. Ivelisse M. #

    I just did this recipe. And a think I followed it to a ” t” and at the end no bump. They were flat more like a cookie but tasted great. Got 17 out if 24 and for the next time I would put less batter on the pans. This is the second time I made madeleines (1st with the allrecipes’ one and 2nd with this recipe) I’m still figuring the whole baking secret on these delicious little things. I put the batter in the fridge and the greased floured pans in the freezer both for about an hour. By the way also used 3 eggs.

    17 August 2014
  40. Very good write-up. I certainly appreciate this website.
    Continue the good work!

    27 August 2014

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