Today is the last day of my Instagram virtual holiday with a French theme, and is there anything more quintessentially French than the madeleine? These tiny, shell-shaped cakes with their plump little bellies are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea. The inspiration for this recipe was the combination of blackberry and lavender growing in the garden of a French cottage where we have stayed. I remember the sunshine on the blackberries warming them up and their sweet scent blending with the aroma of the lavender growing nearby.
As with a loyalty to local producers, seasonal food plays an important role in French culture. Just think of mirabelle plums and figs in the summer or chestnuts and mushrooms in autumn. Keeping an eye on the seasons and understanding when fresh foods are at their best is not just a great way to feel connected to nature, but also to get the best from your food in terms of nutrition and flavour. Blackberry picking is a really easy way to find that connection and embrace the seasons.
Baking madeleines isn’t as tricky as it might seem as they’re just little cakes after all. The trick is beating the eggs until they’re really fluffy and then being careful not to knock that air out when you combine the rest of the ingredients. The other key is the melted butter as that adds a lovely richness of flavour and also helps to give the little crisp edges that madeleines have. There is then the apparent requirement of a madeleine pan which are quite widely available, but I’m sure you could get by with a mini muffin tin or little fairy cake cases instead. They won’t look exactly the same and might lack a bit of the texture, but they’ll be just as delicious and will still be a perfect little nibble of sweetness and that’s the important part!
Blackberry & Lavender Madeleines
- 100g butter, melted
- 100g sugar
- 100g plain flour
- 100g blackberries, washed and halved if they’re quite big
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 eggs, room temperature (this is important for a light result)
- 2 lavender flower heads or 1 tsp dried lavender, very finely chopped
- Pinch salt
- Prepare your madeleine mould by brushing with some of the melted butter and sprinkling with flour. Tap any excess flour into the sink or the compost bin.
- Whisk the eggs with the sugar and honey and beat until really fluffy – at least 5 minutes.
- Combine the blackberries and lavender with the flour and pinch of salt and gently fold into the egg mixture, being careful not to knock out any of that hard-earned air.
- Finally, carefully add the melted butter which should have been standing long enough to cool a little. Leave the mixture to stand and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan.
- Spoon the mixture into your madeleine mould and bake for 10 minutes or until their little bellies are risen and golden.
As always, let me know if you try this recipe by commenting below or tagging me on Instagram @plotandlane – I love seeing your creations!
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