I fell in love with these delicate sponge cakes when I worked in France and would often treat myself to a couple for breakfast after a night shift making bread. The batter will keep in the fridge overnight if you want to bake them first thing in the morning (don’t forget to mix the batter again first); otherwise, they make a great tea-time treat. If you don’t have a madeleine pan, you can always use a small muffin tin, but bear in mind that the sponges won’t have that lovely shell shape that makes them so special.
Rate this recipe!
75gunsalted buttermelted and cooled slightly, plus softened butter for greasing
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Brush 2 madeleine trays with softened butter, dust with sifted plain flour, then tap out the excess.
Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and whisk together for at least 5 minutes, or until pale, thick and the mixture holds a trail on the surface when the beaters are lifted.
Carefully sift the self-raising flour over the egg mixture, then sprinkle with the poppy seeds and lemon zest. Pour the melted butter down the inside edge of the bowl and, using a spatula, quickly and gently fold the ingredients together. Be careful not to knock out too much air.
Transfer the batter to a jug and pour some into each indent of the prepared trays, filling them to the top. Bake for 8–10 minutes.
Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack and leave to cool. They are at their best when served warm.
HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT SPONGE
The secret of a light, airy sponge is to incorporate lots of air into your mix. It is essential that you whisk together the eggs and sugar together for a good five minutes on full speed, until it is thick and pale. Time invested now will immeasurably improve the end result.