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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Madeleine Medley Episode 1 - Sesame Madeleine

Sesame Madeleines (Sepia1)

Sesame Madeleines 4

Sesame Madeleines 3

Madeleines, the famous magical 'cookies' that gave French author, Marcel Proust that shuddering moment of epiphany. This synopsis from Proust's 'Remembrance of Things Past' - Swann's Way has been so well published and referenced that the Madeleine has practically become Proust's cookie..

"She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called "petites madeleines," which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?"

The poetic and romantic part in me was immediately sold but the curious part in me was extremely skeptical - I had eaten the madeleine before - the famous little French cookie is pretty in its scallop shape but to me, it is not too different from a genoise sponge. Most recipes use ground almonds with flour but there are also recipes(such as this one) that uses just all purpose flour. Where indeed, did this all-powerful joyous stimulation come from? And it seems, concerted efforts and claims have been dedicated to re-create Proust's Madeleines but I believe that for those who are expecting to be jolted from their pensive moods by elated senses similar to Proust's, they will most likely be disappointed. Proust is a philosopher, a writer with sensibilities that demonstrate strange depth. Intensely introspective and sharply aware of his every fleeting thoughts, he is possibly extremely sensitive to external stimuli that would normally fly over our heads without warranting a second thought from us.

Sesame Madeleines 3(1200)

I enjoy the Madeleine but am not totally crazy over it. In fact, the dry crumbly texture Proust's descriptions alluded to does not get me excited. It is his subsequent verse that had me sighing dreamily... if you ask me, the good old Khong Guan/ Jacob's cream cracker soaked in Milo would probably bring me closer to that joyousness than the Madeleine.  Such is the power of words - long and convoluted as they may be in Proust's style... nevertheless, it has inspired me enough to do 2 things : borrow Swann's Way from the National Library  and start the Madeleine Medley series on my blog... I seek to experiment with different flavours for the madeleine striving for something different . The first in the medley is this Sesame Flavoured Madeleine. Adapted from Pierre Hermes's chocolate Madeleine recipe from Chocolate Desserts, I incorporated sesame powder and a hint of bamboo charcoal for drama... unfortunately the colour turned out more brown than black but overall, the fragrance of the sesame is lovely and with its light crust and tender crumb, it will certainly go well with tea.... without falling apart into crumbly bits, though, I am afraid...

Sesame Madeleines (100)

70g                  All purpose flour
31/2 tbsp         Black sesame powder
1/2 tsp             Baking powder
90g                  Sugar
Pinch               Salt
2 large             Eggs
100g                Unsalted butter, softened at room temperature


1. Sift flour, sesame powder, baking powder together and put aside
2. Using a whisk , beat eggs with sugar, salt until mixture is well blended.
3. Add butter and beat until well distributed.
4. At low blending speed, add in flour mixture - stirring enough to blend the flour with the butter mixture.
5. Cover batter with a cling film and refrigerate over night.
6. Set oven to 200C.
7. Bake batter in buttered and floured madeleine mold at 200C x 15mins.
8. Remove from mold and cool down.


Zurin said...

Gorgeous fotos as always Shirley...quite dramamtic dramatic as Proust's reaction to Madelines. When I read teh description he gave on tasting the medeline this was what went thru my mind " gosh ...he must have been awfully deprived"

but they do look particularly beautiful. esp with the sesame seed powder. brilliant idea. :)

WendyinKK said...

Between this and castella, which do u prefer?

I love the 2nd pic.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Wendy,actually I crave for neither but if I have to choose, I guess I would pick the castella.

tigerfish said...

I don't bake so in the worst position to make any comments but I always think that Madeleines look like the flatter version of Kueh BahLu ?

You are really creative to make Black Sesame Madeleines :D

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Tigerfish, you are exactly right. In fact I think the Kueh Bahlu may be closer to the Madeleine that gave Proust the epiphany...for it is drier and more crusty. Most of the Madeleine recipes we get now tend to be more moist and has a tender crumb.

Irene's Footprints said...

Hi Shirley

Looks fragrant and I can smell the sesame.

did you use a silicon or aluminium mould? Which you prefer?

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Irene...always a aluminum mold. If you recall, I bought an expensive madeleine mold when I was in Paris last year... I have not used a silicon mold for a long long long time...

Angie's Recipes said...

The first picture looks wowed...just too beautiful.
I still haven't got one madeleine mold.

Pei-Lin said...

Oh, these goma madeleines are truly East-meets-West!! Fabulous recipe! Thank you for sharing!

Swee San said...

Wow beautiful photos.. I never really liked madeleines unless dipped in coffee.. But yours puffed up beautifully and evenly. Oh dear, now I want a madeleine pan too .. >.<

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Shirley, I jut have to say that I would LOVE that opening pic framed on my wall. It's beautiful! :o

Passionate About Baking said...

Hi Shirley,
Your seasame madeleine looks really good. It looks more like chocolate than sesame with its nice brown colour. Like you, I'm not a big fan of madeleines, but somehow, I just love its shape.
Btw, I saw your Matcha Castella cake being published in Desserts Magazine. It sure looks good. I shall try it one day. And your coconut mango being featured too! Good work! :)

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Jane!Yes, they have been exchanging emails with me for a while for this publication. I really don't know how well read is this magazine but I am grateful and happy for a chance to be featured. I will probably put in a link in one of the later posts :)

Trissa said...

Wonderful! Shirley, I can't wait to see what else your experiments bring! This one - if it's any indication - I am already very excited.

maameemoomoo said...

Great photos!

Madeleine - does it taste like the ones from Delifrance? I've been putting this off my baking-radar like forever!

But black sesame? I'm sold!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Maameemoomoo- I have never tasted the madeleines from Delifrance... Delifrance seems to have disappeared overnight in Singapore... where are they now?

Passionate About Baking said...

Hi Shirley,
Aw, yes, you should put a link to the magazine. I've always like the desserts featured in that magazine. They are all so pretty! For this issue, they featured different dessert bloggers from Asian countries and you "represented" Singapore! How you have made us proud! ;)) I can't wait for your post to include this! I'll be looking forward to it!

maameemoomoo said...

Hello Shirley,

They're mostly in Esso stations now. Do it a try and compare? I dun quite like the dry bit unfortunately :(

M. said...

Shirley.... these cookies are truly other half wants me to make some madalaines....I just found my inspiration I need to buy the pans :)
Love the photos too!!!

Carolyn Jung said...

I love this Asian twist to a tiny French cake. I go crazy for anything with sesame seeds. They may be tiny, but boy, do they pack an intense, wonderful nuttiness.


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