Summer is most definitely on its way here in Wales, the weather has been exceptionally glorious during lockdown (with the exception of one May frost that is, but the less said about that the better). It’s got my mind & belly already craving more seasonal, lighter & fresher foods, most of which I’m hoping will come from the garden this year!
Normally, I’m a two or three tier, entire slab of cake kinda girl but they can be a little bit heavy when the weather is warmer. In summer, other than a shed load of jam (friends, family, prepare yourselves, its coming), I tend to enjoy making thing’s a bit smaller & daintier, using all of that fresh, colourful produce of the season.
As far as cakes are concerned, they don’t come much daintier than the madeleine. Defined by their beautiful scalloped shell shape, these buttery little French cakes need nothing more than a little sprinkle of icing sugar on top to finish them off to perfection (we all know this is my preferred decorative style – easy!).
These wouldn’t look out of place in any afternoon tea setting, the other thing my mind turns to as soon as eating outdoors becomes a realistic option again. Other than the beautiful blooms, I don’t think anything says ‘British summertime’ quite as much as an afternoon tea. Dare I say, I’ve never made it through an entire summer in my adult life without scoffing several scones, generously topped with clotted cream & homemade jam (incase you’re wondering, it’s always cream first for me).
For my summery take on the madeleine, I’ve turned to the garden for flavours that really say summer to me. Firstly, strawberries, the epitome of summer, they’re fragrant, colourful, sweet & juicy… you really couldn’t ask for more in a fruit! Apparently, with Wimbledon & other large scale events obviously being cancelled this year, we have an abundance of strawberries in the country this year so keep an eye out for some good local deals & get the Pimm’s in!
Next up, mint, the coolest & most refreshing of all the herbs. We have fabulous peppermint plant which has been going strong for a couple of years now, kept in a very large pot (I highly recommend keeping it contained if you’re planning on growing it, it’s a very invasive plant that will take over your garden given half a chance!). There are many different of mint varieties of mint in the UK but peppermint has longer, darker leaves (green with a slight purple hue), & have a much stronger flavour than other varieties, making it great for use in cooking & baking.
The marriage of strawberry & mint is sweet & fresh one, working well here in these dainty madeleines where they don’t have to fight too hard to be noticed like they would in a much larger cake. These madeleines are fresh, buttery & have a wonderfully light & fluffy texture inside their pretty scallops. You may find yourself quite easily eating 3 or 4 of these without even realising (or at least I do!), perfect with a nice cup of Early Grey or Darjeeling.
If you’re looking for the classic bump on the back of your madeleine scallops, you can chill your cake batter for at least an hour before baking. Personally though, I’m far too impatient, cake is cake, they’re still perfectly light when baked straight away.
STRAWBERRY & MINT MADELEINES
(makes 24 madeleines)
- 150g butter, melted
- 3 large eggs
- 150g caster sugar
- 150g self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 160g strawberries, hulled & roughly chopped
- 12-14 large peppermint leaves, chopped (look for bright, perky leaves)
- Grease and flour two madeleine tins, shaking off any excess flour from the tin
- Melt the butter & set aside
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs & sugar until light, fluffy & doubled in size
- Sift together the flour & baking powder & add half of this to the bowl
- Pour half of the melted butter into the opposite side of the bowl & use a spatula to gently fold everything together
- Repeat the process with the remaining flour & butter until everything is well combined
- Put the chopped strawberries & mint leaves into a heatproof bowl or jug & heat in the microwave to 1 minute to soften
- Use a fork to roughly mash the strawberries & mint together into a chunky puree
- Add the puree to the batter & fold through the mixture
- Set the batter to one side & leave it alone to stand for 15 minutes
- Carefully pour the mixture into the scallop moulds within the tin
- Bake the madeleines at 200°C for 9-11 minutes, until golden & well risen
- Once baked, immediately remove the madeleines from the tin & place on a cooling rack to cool
- Once cooled, dust the madeleines with a little icing sugar before serving