12 Days of Christmas Baking – Day One: Earl Grey Madeleines

earl grey madeleines

The food blog lives! To celebrate the return of free time in my life I decided I’m going to bake something every other day that I’m home – because I can. When I announced this to my family by brother exclaimed “What is this, the 12 cakes of Christmas?!”. Not quite, since cakes are really not my forte yet and there are so many other things than cake to bake for holidays, but the idea stuck so I’m going to get back into blogging by posting 12 desserts for the holidays!

Earl grey is my sister’s secret weakness. Something about the citrus flavoured black tea makes her go crazy and if anything has a hint of earl grey in it, she will immediately buy/eat/drink it. Compared to her I have only a mild appreciation of earl grey…but really, if anything is tea-flavoured how can you say no? I can only share a small part of my tea obsession on this blog…my close friends know the embarrassing size of my tea collection and my inability to leave the house without a thermos of hot water. I can’t justify buying individual tea bags at local coffee shops with the amount of tea that I own, so I often grab tea bags to take with me just in case the craving for English Breakfast strikes me during class. As a result you’ll often find random tea bags in the pockets of all my coats.

piles of madeleines

My obsession with tea is somewhat genetic – my mother is the only one I know who has a bigger collection of tea than me. She has perfected the art of brewing a perfect pot of tea and no matter how many times I try, I can never strike quite the right balance of sugar and cream the way my mom can. So as much drinking tea is my own satisfying ritual, it has deep roots in memories of my family and home. That’s why these earl grey madeleines were the perfect thing to bake with my sister after four months of being away from home.

earl grey madeleines

Tea imparts very subtle flavours when you try to put it in anything other than hot water. My sister’s chief complaint is that baked goods advertised as “earl grey” are only being extremely optimistic. This recipe calls for steeping earl grey leaves in melted butter to infuse the flavour into the batter; my sister made sure to add an extra tablespoon of leaves. The madeleines were the perfect dainty accompaniment to mid-afternoon tea – fragrant with meyer lemon zest and earl grey, soft and cakey with a crisp edge.

Earl Grey Madeleines (adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

•    5 tablespoons unsalted butter plus additional for molds, room temperature
•    2 tablespoons loose tea or tea from 2 tea bags (preferably Earl Grey)

•    3/4 cup all purpose flour
•    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
•    Pinch of salt
•    2 large eggs
•    1/3 cup sugar
•    2 tablespoons honey
•    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•    1/2 teaspoon (packed) lemon zest

•    Melt 5 tablespoons butter in saucepan over low heat or in the microwave oven. Mix in tea. Let stand 15 minutes, then filter tea-infused butter with a sieve into bowl.
•    Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in large bowl until thick, about 4 minutes. Add honey, vanilla, and lemon peel; beat 1 minute longer. Gently fold in dry ingredients, then tea-flavored butter. Press plastic wrap onto surface of batter; chill batter at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
•    Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Brush twelve 3×2-inch madeleine molds with butter. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Place pan on baking sheet. Drop 1 scant tablespoon batter into each mold (batter will spread while baking, filling molds completely).
•    Bake madeleines until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 12-15 minutes. Sharply rap pan on work surface to loosen madeleines, then turn out onto rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.