Honey Orange-zest Madelines

Madelines!

Oh these lovely, buttery shell shaped little cakes. Crisp on the outside and soft like sponge cake on the inside. And that adorable little bump. It makes it a pretty little unique cake.

It was our 4th or 5th class in Le Cordon Bleu and the chef demonstrated this French traditional cake from the Lorraine region in France. I was astonished. That shell shaped structure looked gorgeous. And then the bump on the other side revealing the soft part inside. The edges – browned and crisp are a delight to bite into.

Madelines with honey

Madeleines are the perfect accompaniment to the evening cup of tea or coffee. They taste best when served warm fresh out of the oven. The crispness of the crust starts to lessen as it gets stored, but biting into a fresh madeleine is a real pleasure.

The only special equipment you will need is a Scallop shell pan. I purchased mine in E.Dehillerin in Paris, but it is easily available at Amazon.in or your local bakeware shop.

The traditional version calls for browning butter and then using it. But there is a very fine line between brown butter and burnt butter. So to avoid that, we simply melt butter with orange zest and that gives it the citrusy flavour. If you wish to get the nuttiness of browned butter, brown it in a pan for a couple of minutes, let it cool down and then use it.

This recipe is based on the one we learnt at school and I have further added orange zest and honey to it.

Madelines in shell pan

Honey Orange-zest Madelines

Makes 10 Madelines

What you will need :

  • 100 gram all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 70 gram butter
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 65 grams castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What to do :

  1. Sift flour and baking powder to avoid any lumps.
  2. Melt butter in a pan or in microwave with the orange zest.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and add sugar. Whisk till it becomes pale and creamy.
  4. Add the vanilla extract
  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and then add butter and orange zest mixture. Fold it in with a spatula.
  6. Now transfer it to a disposable piping bag without any nozzle and refrigerate it for atleast 3 hours. You can even refrigerate it overnight.
  7. Before baking, pre-heat the oven to 200 C. Brush the shell pan with some melted  butter and drizzle some flour on it.
  8. Pipe molds of batter on the pan and let it bake for 10-11 minutes till it is browned not he edges and cooked in the centre. The centre should spring back when touched.

IMG_3640

 

Notes :

  1. It is essential to refrigerate the dough so that the flour hydrates and it forms that quintessential bump when baked.
  2. This can also be used as a basic recipe and honey and orange zest can be substituted with any other flavouring.

madelines with a bump

Cheers!

Rutvika

French Tarte aux Pomme with pears

My grandparents came from the time when matrimonial matches were made by the elders in the family, the girl and the guy met each other once, if they were fortunate enough, and were married. And the marriages lasted. 50-60 years, till death does them apart. My grandmother and grandfather were similarly married, about 58 years back and were together till my grandmother passed away two years back. They had companionship, they were very strong as a team, raised 3 kids and supported the needs of a big joint family, while working full-time in multiple jobs. But those were simpler times, they had least expectations from each other, romantically or otherwise. In the 55 odd years that they spent together, they have hardly taken a couples-only vacation, rarely sat together sipping a cup of tea and talking about their hopes and dreams. There were no issues of compatibility, because that was never an issue. You just stick together, marriage was for a lifetime.

For my parents’ generation, things have somewhat changed. The concept of life-long marriage is still widely accepted and prevalent, but everybody wants more from their life and hence are willing to compromise the stability of marriage. They realize they were naive when they got married and hence their individual aspirations were side-tracked. But now they have the time once their kids are grown up and on their own, and can achieve those dreams. But still, this is the only way of life they know and have loved each other over the years, and hence, thankfully stick around. Together.

Then comes my current generation, where suddenly in a time span of 20-25 years, things totally changed. Everything became casual. What is marriage? Oh you like somebody, let’s get married, lets see if it works out. Arranged marriage? Sure, the guy/girl seems good enough. Lets try to see if we can make it together. If not? No problem, get a divorce and move on. You can soon marry the next person who looks good enough.

I am not cynical, but this trend deeply unsettles me. When I quit working with my previous organisation, a colleague I worked with seemed very happy with his wife of 6 months. I talk to him a year later, and he was already divorced from his wife, and was getting married to another girl in a week. I was shocked. How and when did things go so bad in 1 and half years, that they were already divorced? And doesn’t it take at-least some time to get over a marriage? Or was singlehood so dangerously unpleasant that you jump up on the next prospect and seal it?

But sometimes, it becomes a one-way street and then its really sad. One of my mom’s younger cousins was married to her husband for 7 years before the guy suddenly realised that he doesn’t love his wife anymore, and wanted to end the marriage. Simple as that. No extra-marital affair, no abusive partner, no major fights, nothing. He just fell out of love. But the woman is still deeply in love with her husband and till date, its been 5 years since he filed for a divorce, she absolutely refuses to give him one. This part of life is stuck in a limbo while they continue to lead their separate lives.

Or in case of another relative, after being married for 9 months, one day suddenly after dinner, the guy ‘dumped’ his wife at her parents house and told her it’s over. Sure, their marriage was still new and they were trying to figure out each other and used to have fights and squabbles, but it looks (from what they told us later on) that it was nothing that can’t be resolved. But that option was never considered. The girl, my cousin, feels rejected and is unable to get over it, but the guy has already started meeting other prospective girls while the divorce case and alimony, maintenance etc gets settled.

That’s how simple marriage and divorces have become today. Procedurally yes, socially yes, but what about the emotional scars it is leaving on the minds of an entire generation, whose parents had long happy marriages,  and theirs is tumbling like Humpty Dumpty off a wall?


Now some finger-licking food time.

After the delicious plum cake baked last time, I wanted to do some more fruit bakes. In my head it just feels like a healthier dessert once it has fruits in it. And when I see the loaded fruit pyramids at the fruit vendors, I can barely resist them. So with several apples and pears on hand, I decided to make a combination of Classic French Apple tart and the Pear Tarte Tatin. So presenting, the French Tarte aux Pommes, with pears 🙂

Pear and Apple tart

Tarte aux Pommes with pears

What you will need :

Sweet short pastry crust :

  • 200 gm all purpose flour
  • 100 gm butter, cold, cut into pieces
  • 20 gm castor sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pear Filling :

  • 2 pears, peeled, deseeded chopped
  • 30 gm butter
  • 30 gm granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • a pinch of freshly ground cinnamon

Assembly :

  • 1 unbaked tart shell
  • pear filling
  • 2 and 1/2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Butter chunks , sugar and cinnamon powder

What to do :

  • Pre-heat oven to 170C.
  • To make the short pastry crust, take the flour, cold butter pieces and sugar on a countertop and knead it with your hands, pressing the butter with the heel of your palm and incorporating it into the flour. Do it twice or thrice till all the butter has been broken down and the dough resembles sand.
  • Make a well in the centre and add the egg and vanilla. Again gently knead the dough with the heal of your plam till it all comes together.
  • Cover it with a saran/ plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast 10 minutes before rolling it into a disk.
  • Meanwhile, make the pear filling. melt butter in a pan, add vanilla and cinnamon. Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and heat it on a low flame till the sugar dissolves.
  • Then add the chopped pears and continue to cook it for another 5-6 minutes till the pears have cooked and all the liquid has evaporated. Take it off heat and keep it aside.
  • Take the dough from the fridge, knead it slightly and then roll a disk about 10-11 inches in diameter. Keep the counter well floured while rolling or it will stick.
  • Use a 8-9 inch tart ring or a small lipped cake pan and place in gently on the dough disk. Cut a round about 3-4 cms away from the ring and remove the ring.
  • Generously butter the tart ring from the inside with softened butter.
  • Lift the dough disk with a rolling pin and place it on the tart ring, floured side up. That side of the disk which was on top should now be the bottom, touching the tart ring.

Making the tart dough

  • Flatten the dough inside the ring with your thumb and cut the remaining portion coming out on top of the ring with a knife.  Pinch it with a pincer for decoration (optional).
  • FIll the unbaked tart shell with the pear filling.
  • Arrange the sliced apples on the tart in a circular roundabout way.
  • If you like it pour some apple wine on the tart, and place chunks of butter on the apples and drizzle it with sugar and cinnamon in the centre of the tart.

Arranging the tart

  • Bake at 170C for 30 minutes, till the tart shell is baked and the apples look done.
  • Once baked, release the tart from the ring with a knife, unmold it and let it cool completely before cutting.

Tart slice

Notes :

  1. Add a teaspoon of water to the dough if you think it is very dry while kneading it.
  2. The dough is refrigerated for 10 minutes before rolling into a disk, so that it becomes firmer and hence easier to roll. Then it is left at room temperature after making the disk for it to stabilise, so that it does not shrink too much in the oven while baking.

Rutvika Charegaonkar