Easy Madeleine Recipe - Classic French Tea Cakes

madeleine cakes in pan
Madeleines - Spongy French Tea Cakes. Penina Meisels/Taxi/Getty Images
  • 35 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 24-28 cakes (24 to 28 servings)
Ratings (15)

Forget about cupcakes for a minute and think Madeleines instead! These spongy little French cakes are popular in Morocco, where they can be found home-baked or sold for a dirham or two at bakeries. Serve them for tea time, for breakfast, or as a snack.

Madeleines are quite easy to make, but you'll need to purchase scalloped Madeleine molds to get started. The molds are available in different sizes and materials, but you may find non-stick pans or silicone to be the easiest to use. 

The little cakes can be flavored in a variety of ways, but I like them best with fresh lemon zest. They're also delicious when prepared with orange zest or simply vanilla. Serve them unadorned, or give them a dusting of powdered sugar.

Plan ahead a bit, as you'll need to allow at least one hour for chilling the batter. 

Also try Madeleines au Chocolat.

What You'll Need

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon lemon zest (or orange zest)
  • 1/2 cup butter (unsalted, melted and cooled)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter (melted, for preparing the mold)
  • 2 Tbsp. flour (for preparing the mold)
  • Optional: powdered sugar (for dusting the cakes)

How to Make It

Prepare the Batter

1. Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer for about five minutes, or until thick and fluffy. 

2. Mix in the vanilla and zest.

3. Sift together the flour and baking powder, and gradually fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture with a large spatula. Do not over mix as you want the batter to retain its light, fluffy texture, but do be sure that all the flour is incorporated into the batter.

4. Stir a spoonful or two of the batter into the melted butter, then gradually fold the butter mixture into the batter. Again, avoid over mixing as you want the batter to be light.

5. Cover and refrigerate the batter for an hour or longer.

Bake the Madeleines

1. Preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C). Reduce the heat slightly if using dark baking pans like those shown in the photo.

2. Prepare your Madeleine pans by brushing each mold generously with melted butter and dusting with flour. (Be sure to get butter into each crevice or the cakes will stick.) Tap out the excess flour and set the pans in the refrigerator to chill for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the butter has firmed up. (Note: There is no need to grease and flour a silicone or mold.)

3. Spoon a dollop of batter – roughly a generous tablespoon for a 3" cake – into each mold; do not spread the batter.

4. Bake the cakes for about 10 minutes or until light golden brown in color. The cakes should develop a hump which springs back when you lightly press on it. Do not over bake.

5. Tap the pans on the counter to loosen the cakes, or use a thin spatula or knife to gently loosen each Madeleine. Turn the cakes out onto a rack to cool.

6. Serve warm or room temperature. If desired, garnish with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

Storing Madeleines

Madeleines store for only a day or two at room temperature when well covered. They can also be frozen in an airtight container or freezer bag.