Saturday, 9 June 2012

à la française: Home-cooked French Cuisine - Week 2

It's more like Week 4 now rather than Week 2 since I've started my little French cooking project. But I'm glad to say that I've managed to keep on track with at least one French dish a week! I'm definitely taking advantage of the relatively relaxed schedule that I have now. In a way, it's a form of self-imposed relaxation. I know that I won't be able to have so much free time once the next school year just about 1 month and a half more so, funny as it may sound, I'm trying my hardest to not really study so much now but rather, just enjoy whatever I free time I have with my hobbies/interests. I'm starting to feel rather anxious though, since a ton of my classmates are busy mugging away in anticipation of not having enough time to revise all the stuff before our finals next year... But the more anxious I feel, I tend to distract myself with other activities. So it's cooking and baking for now. I find it definitely takes my mind off worries. And it helps that most of the time, there's always something good (and edible!) that comes out of it. 

So for Week 2, I decided to bake Madeleines! :) After trying a freshly baked one at the French restaurant, Brasserie Gavroche, a couple of nights back (and it was served fresh from the oven, complimentary! :D), I had such a huge craving for it. Fortunately, it's also a recipe from Rachel Khoo's cookbook. And trust me when I say this, but this recipe is PRETTY DARN PERFECT! The Madeleines came out so well during my very first attempt that when I sunk my teeth into my first hot crispy Madeleine, I was so happy I very NEARLY wanted to cry. That was when I realized, MAN, there's no feeling like creating something so delicious with one's bare hands.


I bought this Madeline tray at Lemon Zest, a baking store at Chip Bee Gardens at Holland Village. In case you're looking to get one too, there are a number of stores that sell it and it was only through trawling through a few stores and calling up some places that I managed to find this out. So apart from Lemon Zest, there's also Shermay's Cooking School , Phoon Huat and ToTT that sell them. It's amazing how there are 3 stores selling baking supplies on the exact same stretch of road at Chip Bee Gardens (Phoon Huat, Shermay's and Lemon Zest). When I went that day though, Phoon Huat had run out of them (good to call whichever location you're interested in going to beforehand) and the one being sold at Shermay's was a good $10 more expensive than the one at Lemon Zest. So while it was still a little pricey, I figured, this is a pretty good investment since it's something I can bake on numerous occasions. :) And from the way things have turned out, I'm definitely going to be doing so!

A trick I learnt from my dearest grandma from those baking sessions at her place. If you don't have a piping bag, you can always use a large ziplock bag. Fill it with the batter and then snip off a small corner to create the opening. 


Et voilà ! :) The Madeleines actually taste really good with the raspberries. Jobbie, my food connoisseur friend, insists that Madeleines should be eaten plain and should never have any sort of filling (blasphemous!). ;) But I do think the tartness of the raspberries adds so much in terms of flavor to the light buttery taste of the Madeleines. A combination I would definitely recommend. 


And just to show some of the variations that are possible. I did a couple - plain, with raspberry on top, with raspberry AND lemon curd (as was the case in the recipe), and because of a request from my mum, some with blueberries on the top. The blueberries definitely don't really go that well with the Madeleines though, so I'd say stick with raspberries and you can even spread the lemon curd over it to eat. :D Her recipe for lemon curd is EXCELLENT, btw. 


I think in the past 2 weeks, I must've made at least 3 or 4 batches of Madeleines. The batter is incredible easy to make. (I ended up baking a fair bit on a number of midnights, to give my mum something to munch on for supper ;D.) According to the recipe, Rachel Khoo recommends that the batter be refrigerated overnight. But there was one afternoon when I was in too much of a rush so I ended up using the freshly made batter instead. It was definitely a lot more liquid-y but it rose really quickly and actually ended up tasting a lot smoother than the ones made from overnight batter. I think it's because if you leave it overnight, it gets heavier/lumpier and doesn't rise as homogenously. So for my subsequent attempts, I'm just going to do away with the whole refrigeration thing and bake it straight. Best part of all, is that there's a video that shows you how to do the whole thing!

It's really manageable for beginners. :) And I love how it's different from the typical sugar cookies/choc chip cookies that are a dessert staple. Why not learn to make something a little more unique and surprise everyone at parties instead? 


  1. Aww, yummy. Thanks for sharing the vid. I liked the music being played throughout it :)