Moving is like a big gust of wind, it shakes things up and clears the air. I’ve always loved that feeling. Thomas likes to tell how I warned him, when I met him, that I didn’t mean to stay in Berlin forever, I was planning to move around. Indeed just a few weeks after our wedding we left for New York. And we got stuck. It happens, apparently.
For many years Berlin remained the city to which we would undoubtedly return. But gradually, imperceptibly, the feeling dissipated, and New York became home. A bit by default, perhaps, though in time it was hard to envisage any other. It happens, evidently.
As our lives became ever more settled, known, easy, the itch for change was more efficiently tempered by the comfort of friends and habit. It required a bit of a leap, or a gentle nudge. The opportunity had to be seized.
Moving is liberating. Liberating from the grip of a pounding, neurotic, fabulous city constantly vying for attention. I always thought the most fascinating thing about New York is its versatility, a place where anyone can find a place and live life singularly. What I didn’t realize was how much the city, with its endless offerings and possibilities, plays a role. New York isn’t just the setting, it is a main character. It’s what makes it so hard to leave, like breaking off a relationship. And New York is the jealous type.
So I made madeleines. I had no Proustian connection but they’ve found a place right where the happy look ahead chases a little heartache. They are not traditional and exactly how I like them.
Note: Plan ahead as the dough must rest at least one hour. I did use baking powder though there is none in traditional madeleine recipes. Next time I might try without. Resting the dough is crucial for the little humps to form, particularly if the baking powder is omitted.
120 g butter plus a little more (about a tablespoon) for the molds
3 large eggs
Generous pinch of salt
100 g white flour
30 g buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
45 g almond flour
Melt the butter and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Brush the madeleine molds with melted butter, sprinkle a little flour, and tap off excess. Place the dusted molds in the refrigerator.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and salt for a good 5 minutes until very frothy.
Sift together the white flour, buckwheat flour, and baking powder (if using) into the batter and fold gently with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add the almond flour. Do not overmix.
Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter. Add the butter to the batter a few spoonfuls at a time, folding carefully, Stop as soon as all the butter is incorporated.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
When ready to bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425° F (120° C) and place the rack in the top third of the oven.
Drop little spoonfuls of batter into each mold, just enough to fill each to 3/4. The batter will be hardened from the refrigerator, so it won’t fill the mold immediately (no need to try to spread it).
Bake for 8 to 9 minutes just until the madeleines start to turn golden. Remove from the oven, let cool a little before removing the madeleines from the molds.
They are best eaten very quickly, but will keep in a glass or metal container for one to two days.