Lemon and blueberry madeleines

Lemon and blueberry madeleines

Taking a tray of madeleines from the oven feels like pressing the shutter of a Polaroid camera. Boom, instant gratification.

The batter is made up to three days in advance, because it makes for plump little cakes with the fat domes we've all come to love. And by the time you bake them, you've forgotten the effort you put into making the batter. Calling it effort is somewhat misleading, though. Eggs and sugar are whisked together until fluffy. And flour is folded.

The only tricky step is incorporating the butter without deflating the batter. But I've come up with a little trick to make that stage easier after the commis-of-my-life tried to turn madeleines into pancakes: the butter is creamed with a tablespoon of sugar until very soft and light. It's then mixed with a part of the batter before getting folded back into the rest. Ever so gently.

Makes 24 madeleines
butter 80g, really soft
caster sugar 100g
eggs 2
lemons zest from 2
sea salt a pinch
plain (all-purpose) flour 100g
baking powder (baking soda) ½ tsp
blueberries a punnet

Cream the butter with a tablespoon of the sugar. Whisk the remaining sugar with the eggs, lemon zest and the pinch of salt in a separate bowl until light and fluffy.

Gently fold in the flour and baking powder until just combined.

Scoop out a third of the batter into the butter and mix vigorously. Transfer into the remaining batter and fold in very gently.

Scrape the batter into a plastic piping bag and chill for at least 3 hours (or up to 3 days).

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Butter and flour a madeleine pan. Snip a small 8mm hole from the tip of the piping bag and pipe the batter three-quarters of the way up the prepared moulds. Stick two blueberries in each madeleine. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/gas mark 4 and bake for 14 minutes or until the edges are a deep golden brown and the domes are just beginning to brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn out on to a wire rack.

The secret to making plump madeleines is heat shock. I chill my batter for at least 3 hours (2 hours is OK-ish too, so go ahead, I'll close my eyes and pretend nothing ever happened) or up to 3 days. And I preheat my oven to 220C/gas mark 7 for a good 30 minutes before reducing to 180C/gas mark 4 to bake them.