Madeleines – magnifique!

This weekend, the Franschhoek Valley is dressed in the colours of the French flag for our annual Bastille festivities. At La Motte, we celebrate with beautiful wine, a French-inspired menu at Pierneef à La Motte restaurant, a classical music concert with a French flavour and delightful gifts and confectionery in our Farm Shop.

One of the beautiful sweet treats to seduce you this weekend, is the traditional Madeleine.

Described by author Marcel Proust as “…little shell of cake, so generously sensual beneath the piety of its stern pleating”, the Madeleine (French pronunciation: [mad.lɛn], English /ˈmædleɪn/ or /ˌmædlˈeɪn/[1]) is a traditional small cake from Commercy and Liverdun, two communes of the Lorraine region in northeastern France. (Wikipedia)

Madeleines are very similar to small sponge cakes and get their distinctive shell-like shape from pans with shell-shaped depressions in which they are baked. The génoise cake batter used, traditionally include very finely ground almonds and the Madeleines sold from our Farm Shop this weekend, also contain lemon zest. Some people do prefer their Madeleines to be drier and slightly crunchy in order to absorb the hot liquid of the tea or coffee they are dipped into.

According to one story, Louis XV tasted the cookies in 1755 and then named them “Madeleine” to honor his father in-law’s cook Madeleine Paulmier. Louis’ wife, Marie then introduced them to court and they soon became Versailles’ fashionable accompaniment to tea.

Another story has it that a convent in the town of Commercy was the original home to the recipe for Madeleines, but that the nuns sold the recipe to local bakers when the convent was destroyed.

Others have it that a young lady called Madeleine made these now famous cakes for the King of Poland when he was exiled to Commercy and that they have subsequently became quite famous.

Whatever the origins, however, we are just delighted that the recipe for this delightfully light and elegant cake has survived and that we can still enjoy them today!

Try our recipe and enjoy it with a glass of 2015 La Motte Méthode Cap Classique.      

Madeleine Recipe

For 20 cookies


115 g butter

2 eggs, at room temperature

100 g granulated sugar

2 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp vanilla extract

115 g all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

Powdered sugar for sprinkling on top


Melt the butter and set aside to slightly cool. Beat the eggs and sugar together on high speed for at least 5 minutes until it forms ribbons. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Using wooden spoon, gently fold into egg mixture in two stages.

Mix the batter into the melted butter in four stages. Take care to fully incorporate each stage. Rest the batter for 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Lightly brush the pan with melted butter to avoid sticking or spray with spray and cook.

Spoon the batter into the trays.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Eat while still warm.


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