Madeleines

The word madeleine to describe a small, shell like cake, first appeared in France around the middle of the 18th century. The cake is supposed to originate from Commercy and Liverdun, two communes of the Lorraine region in northeastern France.  I first encountered it whilst attending a French bakery class at Bread Ahead in London www.breadahead.com.  It is a delectable, light little sponge cake that requires a little patience as the batter must rest, preferably overnight but at least for 4 hours.  I prefer making them as mini madeleines as they are the ultimate little sweet treat.  This recipe would fill two mini madeleine tins giving you a total of 48 little cakes.  You could make them as normal madeleines and this would make 24. I am still working to create the perfect madeleine as I  don’t always get the desired, little bump but they taste delicious all the same.

Ingredients

45g clear honey
160g unsalted butter
4 eggs (1 egg = 50 grams)
150g caster sugar
20g demerara sugar
160g plain flour
10g baking powder
softened butter and plan flour for the tray

Method

  1. Put the honey and butter in a small saucepan and melt them together on a low heat, stirring.  Take off the heat and cool a little.
  2. Put the eggs and both sugars in a bowl and whisk (with an electric mixer, it will take about 5-6 minutes) until tripled in volume.
  3. Fold in the melted butter and honey.
  4. Then add the flour and baking powder, gently folding them in until all is incorporated into the mix.
  5. Put into the fridge to rest for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.
  6. When are you are ready to cook the madeleines, preheat the oven to 200oC/fan 180oC
  7. Grease and flour the madeleine tray, shaking or tapping to release the excess flour.
  8. Take the madeleine mix out of the fridge and stir it.
  9. Whether mini or normal madeleines, spoon enough into each mould to 3/4 fill each.
  10. If mini madeleines, bake for 7 minutes.  If normal madeleines, bake for about 10-11 minutes.
  11. Take out and serve straight away while still hot,  These are divine dipped in hot chocolate sauce.  Enjoy!

Note: you can adapt the recipe to add some extras such as raisins or sultanas.  In terms of the finish, I quite like my madeleines ‘naked’ like this but many people dust with icing sugar.

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Bread Ahead Bakery – Nordic Baking Class

I attended a Nordic Baking Class run by the Bread Ahead Bakery www.breadahead.com in Borough Market, at the weekend. It has been a few years since I last attended one of their courses, I previously took the French baking class, which I can highly recommend incidentally.  The teaching facilities At Bread Ahead have been transformed since my last visit.  Originally the classes were run in a room on the ground floor next to the main bakery.  I really thought it was a nice space although if you were shy it probably wasn’t for you as the public passing by could watch you whilst you were in class!  Logistically for the tutor it was probably it was a bit of a nightmare as the fridge stored ingredients, were in another room.

Fast forward to now and Bread Ahead have managed to acquire some more space on the 1st floor and have created the most amazing facilities.  Two different teaching rooms, each hosting 12 students, complete with in room fridge facilities and a selection of ovens for the bake off once your bakery products are ready to be baked.  Attendees sit around a large wooden bench table with high stools and there are convenient sinks at the end of the room for those essential moments when you need to wash your hands after handling dough.

So what is Nordic baking?  It seems to me to be the fusion of a few simple ingredients to create something delectable.  Spices like cinnamon, cardamom and citrus flavours often predominate with rye flour being used extensively. Our task for the day was first of all to create a Swedish Rye bread with subtle hints of cardamom, caraway seeds and orange zest and our second task was to create a rye seeded crispbread.  In both cases there was scope to employ a bit of artistic creativity in the finished article, mostly through the use of different seeds.  I loved making the rye bread and I thought it was a great idea to separate the dough into 6 or 7 small ‘rolls’ then bring it together in a kind of flower arrangement so that you created a bread that was ‘tear and share’.

Our tutor was Kevan Roberts.  He is Yorkshire born and has a very down to earth, passionate and fun way of teaching.  His background and experience is extensive with over three decades in the baking business including a year in France together with previously running his own bakery school in Yorkshire.  We all instantly felt we were in good hands.  If you take this class you will go away overflowing with enthusiasm because it will inspire you to want to take the time to create good bread.  We all agreed that the British bakery industry, through the small artisan bakers, is in revival and renaissance and long may this continue.  I have always been a very strong supporter of the ‘slow food’ movement and I think nowhere is this more important than bread making

I left the class with my beautiful Swedish rye bread and my two sheets of crispbread and I have to say this was the most relaxing and positively therapeutic way to spend a Saturday morning.   The day was made better by the best weather of the year so far and I walked from the London Eye to Borough Market.  It was early morning I loved seeing London’s landmarks through the filter of hazy sunshine.

I met a lady at Bread Ahead who apparently is taking every class.  What a tempting thought….  If you like cooking and baking, if you do no other class this year, book yourself into Bread Ahead because you will not be disappointed…

 

Full details of Bread Ahead:

Bread Ahead Bakery & School
Borough Market
Cathedral Street
London
SE1 9DE

School & Administration : 0207 4035 444

info@breadahead.com

www.breadahead.com

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