Lesson time 11:10 min
Chef Dominique believes that there is a precise moment in which a dessert is at its best. Learn how to make mini madeleines, pillowy cakes that can be baked and served within five minutes—when they are at their peak.
So much of the success of a pastry depends on proper timing. In Chef Dominique’s opinion, the perfect example of this is the madeleine, the exquisite small French cake that elicited the most often-referenced memory recall in modern literature. The History of the Madeleine in French Literature Marcel Proust immortalized them in his appropriately titled novel In Search of Lost Time—tasting one of the tiny cakes brought back a rush of memories from his childhood, virtually transporting him to his past life. For Proust, it was the taste of the warm cake—not the mere sight of it—that triggered his sense memory, and he was the first writer to capture this ethereal relationship among taste, time, and memory. Why Madeleines Are Best Eaten Fresh Time is an essential ingredient in Chef Dominique’s madeleines. For him, a madeleine eaten immediately after it comes out of the oven, still piping hot, is the only way it should be appreciated. As such, he only makes them fresh to order in his bakeries (reassuring impatient customers that the time it takes the little cakes to bake is the same as the wait for a latte). When you bite into a fresh madeleine, he explains, that last puff of steam escapes and it’s as if “it’s taking its last breath.” Madeleines that are cooled have lost their magic. Thus, it is imperative to make and serve the madeleines in quick succession. The Classic Madeleine Shape The small hump that appears on top of the madeleines is called the “pearl.” This hump is characteristic of madeleine, in much the same way a crease on the top of a loaf or poundcake is iconic. This hump is achieved through two variables. 1. First, the baking powder in the batter gives rise to the center of the madeleine when the heat of the oven hits the pan. 2. Second, the shape of the mini madeleine pan itself promotes doming on top of the cake, since it sits on a non-level, convex surface. The Two-Step Madeleine-Making Process Chef Dominique’s recipe makes the process seamless and easy. 1. First, you make the batter and allow it to rest for 12 hours, or overnight, so the baking powder in the batter has time to relax, which will in turn give the cake its characteristic light, spongy texture and not that of a dense, crumbly cake. 2. Secondly, because the batter only takes 4 minutes to bake, you can prep the mold, pipe the batter, and bake the madeleines in the same amount of time it takes to clear the dishes at the table and ready your guests for a delightful dessert. The Secret Ingredient to Making Perfect Madeleines When making the batter for madeleine cookies, it is important to have all your ingredients be at room temperature so they will combine more easily. The most important of these ingredients are the eggs. Eggs are magical emulsifiers, or binders, that marry fat and liquid into a smooth mixture. If you’ve ever made mayo, you’ve seen how they bind the oil and lemon juice tog...
Celebrated for his innovative twists on classic desserts, Cronut® creator and James Beard Award-winner Dominique Ansel has been called the “world’s best pastry chef.” In his MasterClass, Dominique teaches his essential techniques for perfect pastries. Learn baking and more with his precise methods, add classic recipes to your repertoire, and explore texture and flavor inspirations to delight friends and family with your own decadent desserts.
Featured Masterclass Instructor
James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Dominique Ansel teaches his essential techniques for making delicious pastries and desserts in his first-ever online class.Explore the Class
I have been working in the kitchen for over 20 years, Chef Dominique has a classic way of doing pastry with a new twist. Enjoyed the class and making all of the pastries.
He's an excellent teacher! He assumes we know nothing, and explains every tiny detail, which is much appreciated!
Control. Comfort with craft. The ability to focus and take delight in the simple but challenging act of perfection.
This class has inspired me. I enjoyed watching and listening to Mr Ansel so much, I got ahead of myself. I will go back to the beginning and do it again.