Image of madeleines

French Pastry Deep Dive: What are Madeleines?

| Giovanni Catbagan

One French treat that effortlessly captures the essence of both tradition and modern luxury is the madeleine; it has become a well-loved delight for its delicate shape and tender crumb. What’s so special about the madeleine and why is it so popular? We’ll share more about the madeleine’s history, and the best ways to enjoy it. Read on!

What is a Madeleine?

Image of a person eating madeleines

Madeleines are soft, mini sponge cakes with a simple ingredient list consisting mainly of eggs, butter, flour, sugar, and vanilla extract. They boast a long shell shape with a scallop-edged appearance, a smooth surface on one side, and a shell-like pattern on the other. This is achieved through the use of a special shell-shaped mould. 

The best madeleines should possess a soft, moist, and fluffy interior, as well as a delicate and smooth texture. They should also produce a buttery and vanilla-infused flavour, offering a subtle richness that makes them incredibly satisfying and perfect for pairing with a variety of other treats and beverages.

The History of Madeleines

Madeleines are believed to have originated in Commercy, in the Lorraine region of France during the 18th century, and have been favoured by both royals and commoners at the time. 

Its name, “madeleine”, is surrounded by many myths. Some believe that the cake was named after a baker named Madeleine Paulmier who worked for the Duke of Lorraine during the 18th century, while others say that a little girl named Madeleine had brought back the recipe after her pilgrimage to Spain. Regardless of its origin, it is a delightful confection that quickly rose to fame following its creation. 

However, despite its popularity in the 18th century, it wasn’t until the early 1900s when the madeleine received a heightened level of fame and cultural recognition. The madeleine was introduced to many more people during the time, which led to it becoming a staple in French baking culture

Today, madeleines can be found in bakeries and patisseries worldwide, and are continuously enjoyed for their exquisite flavour. 

Learn More: Understanding French Terms: Difference Between Patisserie, Boulangerie & Viennoiserie

The Best Ways to Enjoy a Madeleine

Image of a madeleine dipped in chocolate

The madeleine’s light and subtly sweet flavour offers a versatile canvas for enjoyment. Here are some of the best ways to savour and appreciate it: 

• The classic way to enjoy madeleines is on their own, accompanied by a cup of your favourite hot tea or coffee. The subtle sweetness and buttery richness pair beautifully with the warm, comforting beverages.

•  If you have a penchant for all things sweet and sugary, elevate the madeleine by dipping one end of it into melted chocolate or topping it with chocolate mousse. The combination of the tender crumb and smooth chocolate coating gives you a contrast of textures and a burst of sweetness. 

• Top your madeleines with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries, such as strawberries or raspberries, or have it with a fruit salad on the side. The sweetness and light tangy flavour of the fruits balances the cake’s richness and adds a pop of colour and juiciness.

With its graceful form and exquisite flavour, the madeleine has woven itself into the fabric of French heritage, serving as a cultural emblem and a symbol of joy. 

If this read has you craving for some madeleines, you’re in for a treat! 

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Délifrance’s Pastry Box

Image of a madeleine in a plate

From decadent madeleines to savoury croissant sandwiches, Délifrance’s different pastry boxes offer a variety of treats to delight all taste buds. Opt for our pastry box delivery in Singapore to have the best madeleines and a range of other treats delivered to your doorstep. Order now!