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Madeleine help, please! and a general question about the "ribbon stage"

I have been experimenting with madeleine recipes, having finally indulged in a set of metal (not nonstick) pans. For the first try, I used the Joy of Cooking recipe (friend makes lovely mads with it), which went horribly-- they came out very chewy with a sugary crust and stuck like mad. For the second batch, I used Julia Child's recipe for genoise in MTAOFC Vol. II. This worked better, but I was supposed to beat the eggs (3) and sugar (1/2 c) together to the ribbon stage. I beat and beat in my Kitchenaid (10 mins.) and still did not get to the ribbon stage. Could the eggs and sugar actually have passed the ribbon stage while my back was turned? Or did I not let it go long enough? I have had no trouble doing this for other recipes. The madeliene batter started to deflate as I added the last of the flour. So they came out OK-- didn't stick (I chilled the buttered pans which I think helped)-- but they didn't have the pretty little madeleine hump. Should I switch to one of the many recipes that just calls for baking powder? Any help on this would be great. Thanks!

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  1. I recently had trouble as well; see here for my troubles: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/343573 Mine were really spongey, not an ounce of crispness in sight! They didn't stick though. I used a recipe on Epicurious; I think it might of been a Gourmet recipe. Are you supposed to avoid madeleine recipes with baking powder? (I'm a total novice when it comes to madeleines.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Katie Nell

      KatieNell, I really enjoyed your photos! And I love your Mother's china too, reminds me of my Mom's. And the food looks to be jjust glorious!

    2. Thanks KN,
      I actually read your thread before posting this one (great theme for a bebe shower). No one seems to have the definitive answer on this. My instinct is that mads with baking powder are "inferior" since they don't take the skill that the genoise takes (a skill I clearly don't have yet!). But I don't know for sure. I am going to try to track down JC's recipe in The Way to Cook. If I find it and make them I'll let you know.
      Meanwhile, my husband has been enjoying devouring all the mistakes...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Procrastibaker

        I've never attempted madeleines before, but just wanted to say I feel for you and Katie (great bebe shower, BTW, Katie!). Your queries got me so curious that I checked out some of my cookbooks to understand the process.

        Baking with Julia has a recipe by Flo Braker. The genoise can be used to make ladyfingers or madeleines. It looks like a solid recipe, although there's one instruction missing about when to add the powdered sugar. No baking powder is used.

        Donna Hay has what looks to be a simple recipe that does call for a little baking powder. The photo in the book looks so darling.

        Let me know if anyone wants either recipe for further experimentation.

        1. re: Carb Lover

          Thanks guys! Interesting about baking powder vs. no baking powder... I guess I should have done more research and experimentation before just baking them for a party! I might ask at one of my favorite bakeries the next time I'm there and see what they use.

      2. Thanks CL and KN,
        I am going to try the Julia recipe from The Way to Cook and see how that goes. I'm getting the book from the library tomorrow-- maybe it's the same recipe as is in Baking with Julia. If not, though, I'd love to try that one.


        1. Re: the ribbon. Small batches in the KA can be a problem, so blame it on that if you like. Three eggs and a half cup of sugar won't come high enough on the whisk to get the full effect - a handheld electric beater might be better for such a small batch, if you have one. 10 minutes should have been plenty of time. When making genoise, you are looking for a ribbon that when drizzled from the whisk (you used the whisk, right?) will stand on the surface of the batter for about a count of three before disappearing into it. Make sure your eggs are warm room temperature - either run warm water over the eggs or dip the KA bowl with the eggs in a bowl of warm water and swirl. Warm eggs whip up fluffier. Isn't madeline batter supposed to be refrigerated for awhile before piping - or am I thinking of something else?

          4 Replies
          1. re: babette feasts

            Madeline batter should be refigerated for about an hour or so. I have a recipe straight from a French pastry chef. I'll have to dig it up.

            1. re: sugarbuzz

              The JC "Way to Cook" recipe, which I've used many times successfully, does not call for chilling, but mixing and then letting rest for 10 minutes, the 1/4 of the 2 eggs called for, plus the sugar and flour. No baking powder. Then you add the cooled melted butter and eggs, along with salt, lemon rind and juice and vanilla. Good luck to all madeleine makers!

              1. re: MMRuth

                This produced light, golden and cripsy madeleines. Not so much my favorite of texture for madeleines. Besides, I don't know why but I like to see litte hump on the madeleine and following this recipe didn't give me that effect. I like the madeleine that Star Bucks sold, but I believe the debates have been going on for many years on how madeleine should look/ taste. If anyone knows of a recipe that produces the similar kind to the ones at Star Bucks, please be kind and let me know!

                1. re: z.emut

                  Hmm - when I've made them they've not been crispy, or maybe just the tiniest bits around the edges. But, I have mini Madeleine pans and so had to play around with the timing. I do achieve the "little humps" tough. I find that the Starbucks ones are a bit sweet and chewy for my taste - but as you say - a matter of personal preference.

          2. Thanks everyone! I think I had two problems with the last batch (the one from MTAOFC). First, the eggs were chilled, which I forgot about. Second, I think the butter was still too warm and it helped deflate my already deflating batter. I am not going to blame the KA yet, and will try again with the warm eggs and cooled butter. One question-- will a genoise batter hold up if I put it in the fridge to rest? In other words, if a recipe doesn't call for resting, can I do so anyway?

            What do you all think of this recipe, from a cookbook a friend got in France:

            Madeleines au Citron
            2 large eggs
            1/3 cup granulated sugar
            1/4 teaspoon salt
            1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
            1/4 teaspoon almond extract
            1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted
            1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
            1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
            confectioner's sugar for dusting

            Preheat oven to 375. Using a pastry brush, heavily
            brush softened butter over each of the 12 molds in
            pan, carefully buttering every ridge. Dust the molds
            with flour, tilting the pan to coat the surfaces
            evenly. Turn the pan upside down and tap it gently to
            dislodge excess flour.

            In a large bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar,
            and salt. Using a wire whisk or a handheld mixer on
            medium-high speed, beat vigorously until pale, thick,
            and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the almond and
            vanilla extracts. Sprinkle the sifted flour over the
            egg mixture and stir or beat on low speed to

            Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the lemon zest and
            half of the melted butter just until blended. Fold in
            the remaining melted butter.

            Divide the batter among the 12 prepared molds, using a
            heaping tablespoon of batter for each mold. Bake the
            madeleines until the tops spring back when lightly
            touched, 8-12 minutes.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Procrastibaker

              As a reference, JC's recipe has 2 large eggs, 2/3 cups sugar, 1 cup flour, 1 1/4 stick butter (not all of which goes into the madeleine).

              1. re: Procrastibaker

                By the way, the space from the beater to the bowl is adjustable on the KA.

                1. re: Procrastibaker

                  I have used two different Joy of Cooking recipies for Madeleines. The successful version, the one that does not come out chewy and sticky, uses MELTED BUTTER and requires that the EGGS AND SUGAR BE WHIPPED TOGETHER IN A DOUBLE BOILER until luke warm; be careful not to cook the eggs. Also, use an inexpensive shinny tin madeleine pan instead of the expensive non-stick version. The non-stick pan tends to burn the cookies. I don't remember if baking powder is used. DO NOT USE THE 1997 JOY OF COOKING BOOK. Use an older version ( Mine was a paperback version--I think the publisher was Signet probably copyrighted 1991). Good luck. Let me know if you fine the older version of the cookbook. Likewise I'll let you know if I find this receipe since I lost it when I moved.

                2. I've never actually made madelines per se, but I've made plenty of genoise, and I like Pierre Herme's trick of folding the butter into a small amount of the beaten eggs, then folding that into the batter. It is much easier to incorporate this way - otherwise the butter just sinks to the bottom of the bowl. Again, this might work better with a larger batch where you have more to work with, but it might help.

                  1. Hi everyone,
                    I just wanted to report on my Madeleine success! I tried MMRuth's suggestion to use JC's Way to Cook because they have it at my library and I trust the JC. What a great recipe. I may have browned my butter a bit more than JC would like, but it added a really good flavor. And their humps could have been more... humpy (maybe b/c I didn't let the batter rest long enough). But the flavor, color, crispness were perfect. Just what a Madeleine should be-- dense but light and not as spongy as a genoise. Plus, this recipe is easier than a genoise. Katie Nell, you might want to try again with this recipe. I think you'd like it. Thanks, everyone, for helping me solve this-- I was feeling bad about spending $30 on pans I couldn't figure out how to use! And Babette, that is a good tip about the genoise-- I think this was one of my mistakes when I tried it. The butter just deflated the batter (might have been too warm, too, while the eggs in the batter were too cold).

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Procrastibaker

                      Congratulations! I had thought about trying one of the madeleine recipes in Dorie's book, since it is the cookbook of the month after all, but they do all have baking powder in them. Will check out The Way to Cook next time I'm at the library!

                      1. re: Procrastibaker

                        I too struggled to make madeleines for months - I tried numerous recipes. I think it's a recipe that works best with a larger quantity. This is my tried and true recipe (i don't really care if baking powder is authentic- I want humps!)

                        15 oz sifted All purpose Flour
                        1 teaspoon Baking Powder
                        ½ Teaspoon Salt
                        12 oz Unsalted Butter
                        6 Large (10.5 oz) Eggs
                        2 Large (1.30 oz)Egg Yolks
                        10.50 oz Sugar
                        3 teaspoons Vanilla

                        Makes 48 Madeleines

                        1. Preheat Oven to 450 degrees.

                        2. Grease Madeleine pans with melted butter & refrigerate pans

                        3. Melt the butter & and set aside to cool

                        4. Sift together flour, baking powder & salt.

                        5. Beat together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar & vanilla to the “ribbon” stage with whisk attachment. Sprinkle all the flour mixture over the eggs & mix slowly to just combine. Finish folding in any remaining flour with a rubber spatula.

                        6. Whisk two cups of the batter into the melted butter, and then fold this into the rest of the batter.

                        7. Let rest for at least 30 minutes

                        8. Fill the molds ¾ full & bake until golden on top & golden brown around the edges, 8 – 10 minutes.

                        9. Loosen immediately with the tip of a knife onto thick towels to avoid lines from a cooling rack.

                      2. And yet another Madeleine recipe! Been making these for years and they turn out perfect.
                        No baking powder an there isn't any granulated sugar in the mix, but powdered.

                        I think these are every bit as good as Starbucks, and at their prices (and the size) I'll pass and go for these. Purists close your eyes. I have made them with Grand Marnier, orange zest and lemon zest. Also I'll dip them in dark chocolate, which I never hear any objections to.

                        Preheat oven to 350 Makes about 3 dozen
                        1 Cup butter softened not melted
                        2 1/2 Cups sifted powdered sugar
                        4 eggs
                        2 Cups AP flour
                        1/2 tsp vanilla or 1/4 lemon juice.and or 1 tsp of orange or lemon zest and a splash of Grand Marnier

                        With a whisk or electric hand mixer (not the KA) beat the butter until fluffy; gradually beat in the sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating each one at a high speed after each addition. Add flour and vanilla/ lemon etc. blend through.

                        Spoon 1 T of batter into each well buttered and flour dusted madeleine pan. I have two, one is tin (I think and the other is coated) So as one bakes I get the other one prepared to go in the oven. I don't refrigerate the batter either.
                        Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately turn out and place on a rack. If you have only one pan be sure to clean it thoroughly and prepare it again for the next batch.

                        I think the tin madeleine pan produces the crispier edges more so than the one that is treated with a non stick surface. Either are good.

                        1. I just want to say that this makes me feel better about my Christmas madeleine issues- first, it was impossible to find the pans; second, I had never made them before so I was unsure about how they turned out b/c I had mostly recently only seen the Starbucks (crispier) version and felt that the scallop marks weren't as defined and that mine were too cakey. I guess they weren't so bad after all!

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: lhb78

                            I'd like to try madeleines in a mini pan.. and was searching for a recipe but am confused.

                            Most recipes call for whisking the eggs and sugar together till the ribbon stage. However the following recipe does not, in fact it says to 'Stir in the eggs, mixiing just to combine'

                            I am wondering why this method is so different from the others. It seems a lot less work, just wondering if it will turn out good madeleines, as this blog seems to indicate?

                            1. re: plantainchips

                              There are two styles: the ones that are basically a génoise with butter added (spongecake style) and therefore require the eggs to be beaten with the sugar (and sometimes warmed over hot water before doing so) and the ones that are more like poundcake. The ones in the recipe you cite would be the latter. I like the lighter style.

                              1. re: buttertart

                                The ones in the blog look different than what I make. Interesting.

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  They may be the ones that make a hump.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    I was thinking it was too much batter, the texture looks different.

                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                      I've tried the humping recipes but prefer Marion Cunningham's (2 eggs, 1/2 c sugar, grated orange or lemon rind, dash salt, whisk over hot water until hot to the touch, add 1 tsp vanilla, beat at high speed until tripled or more in volume - at least 3 mins - sift in 1/2 c sifted flour, fold in, sift in another 1/2 cup sifted flour and fold in 4 oz butter, melted and cooled - makes 24 in traditional pans, about 8 mins in a 400 deg f oven.)

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Thank you for the explanation of the different styles and the recipe - will be trying this over when I get a chance!

                                    2. re: buttertart

                                      You should see the madeleines in Pierre Hermé's book "Chocolate Desserts". The humps are HUGE - they look like small mountains. He uses baking powder and suggests chilling the batter overnight for the humps to develop.

                                      Oops! I think I got my friend buttertart thinking about another cookbook.

                                      BTW I made the savarin from the book, and it turned out great, but I had to use more syrup than in the recipe.

                                      1. re: souschef

                                        Oh souschef! I have the non-chocolate book, must get the chocolate one, you're right. Still prefer the génoise style to the denser style with humps.
                                        PS OT but did you see my post on What are you baking these days II about the bday cake? You are making me reevaluate and appreciate the Cake Bible which I used to think too fussy by half. A good thing.

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          Just checked it out. Sounds really great; I think that's what I should make next.

                                          If I had to live with just one baking book "The Cake Bible" would be it. I appreciate that RLB has researched her subject thoroughly and gives you precise instructions. Where we diverge though is, as I've said before, when she makes "chocolate cakes" by mixing cocoa with flour. They should be called cocoa cakes, not chocolate cakes.

                                          1. re: souschef

                                            Agree re chocolate/cocoa. Her Valentine Heart in the new book is super however, maybe because of the ganache it's soaked in. (I don't generally like cocoa cakes, I'm not particularly snobby about chocolate but I can tell when it's cocoa and not chocolate.)

                                          2. re: buttertart

                                            May I suggest that (if you have not already done so) you make her Golden Grand Marnier Cake, Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte, and Triple Chocolate Cake.

                                            BTW M. Herme is a definite chocolate snob. In all of his recipes he tells you exactly which variety of Valrhona to use. I have never used Valrhona as it is hideously expensive. Guess I am a bit of a snob too :) I use only Felchlin or Callebaut ( shhh.....don't tell my favourite chocolatier - she does not like Callebaut).

                                            1. re: souschef

                                              I shall do so on your recommendation. I use whatever comes to hand - Trader Joe's has a very reasonable 72% (rumored to be Callebaut) that I buy, or I use the French Nestlé, or I pick up unusual South American chocolates...it depends on mood and who I'm baking for (intimates get the better stuff, of course). I just don't use the Baker's or Nestlé grocery store types. The best dark eating chocolate I've had recently came from Russia - 72% and very complex in flavor.

                              2. I make madeleines all the time, and they turn out great. I use the recipe in the book "La Varenne Pratique" (a useful book to have). It's in English, BTW.

                                The recipe uses baking powder and you do have to chill the mixture. The pans I use are the dark non-stick ones from Williams-Sonoma, but I use a half-sheet pan (also from W-S) underneath for insulation as they cook too fast on the bottom otherwise.

                                As a variation, I melt 4 oz of dark chocolate with the butter.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: souschef

                                  I have dipped them in melted dark chocolate as well, with a splash of Grand Marnier in the batter, the two flavors are really lovely together.

                                  1. re: souschef

                                    Addendum: the non-stick pans I use are made of metal, but I do butter and flour them (extremely important) before use.

                                  2. You can't get to the ribbon stage without heating the egg and sugar mixture usually with a double boiler. It has to get to180 degrees F, I think.

                                    Once it gets to about 180 degrees, it will turn a lighter color and get thick enough to fall off the spoon in ribbons. Another way to identify this stage is take your finger and rub across the back of the spoon, it should leave a trail not fill up immediately. A third way to identify this stage is when you blow into the bowl the egg mixture forms a rose temporarily.

                                    Here is a link defining it.


                                    Here is a link to a picture showing the ribbon stage.


                                    Here is a link to a video of sugar and eggs being beaten to the ribbon stage.


                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: tonka11_99

                                      You can do this in a stainless steel bowl directly in a pan of simmering water. I use a frying pan and tilt the bowl to get maximum contact with the heat. If you whisk constantly (I use the whisk from my KA mixer to avoid getting another implement dirty) refrigerator-cold eggs with sugar take about 3 minutes to get up to temp (I stick my finger in - just get them noticeably hot).

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Yep finger temp test. Although, I am tempted to get one of those Infra red thermometers. Such a sweet gadget. Yeah, I know I don't NEED it... but I want it!