If you are ever in the mood to try something delicious and fancy, you can always rely upon the French. While this spongecake traces its heritage back to northern France, its origin story is somewhat muddied.
- Most stories converge on a “Madeleine” who served someone important to the Lorraine region. Some of these stories attribute the VIP to Paul de Gondi, a cardinal during the 17th Century who lived in Commerce.
- Other stories claim the inventor as Madeleine Paulmier, a cook to Duke Stanislaus I. These tales mention how Louis XV, Stanislaus’ son-in-law, was so taken by the little cakes Paulmier baked that he chose to christen them in her name. After the French aristocracy fell in love with these little shell-shaped sweets, they soon proliferated through all of France.
- Other stories tether the cake to pilgrimage to Compostela, Spain. These tales frame the eponymous Madeleine as having returned from her trip with the recipe.
- One final version suggests that the carapace-contoured cakes were given to pilgrims that passed through the region.
No matter how fuzzy this cake’s history may be, this gingerbread take on the classic pastry is truly delicious.
Ingredients for Gingerbread Madeleines
- Sugar, granulated, 1/3 cup
- Eggs, two
- Salt, 1/8 tsp
- Vanilla extract, 1 tsp
- Molasses, 2 tbsp
- Ginger, ground, 1/4 tsp
- Pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 tsp
- Butter, unsalted, 1/4 cup, melted and cooked
- Flour, AP, 1/2 cup
- Sugar, powdered, for dusting
Equipment and Tools for Making Gingerbread Madeleines
- Madeleine pan
- Pastry brush
- Mixer, either handheld or freestanding.
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring spoon, 1 tbsp size
- Wire cooling rack
Instructions for Gingerbread Madeleines
- Preheat your oven to 375°F.
- Brush some softened butter, not taken from the 1/4 cup amount, onto a 12-mold madeleine pan. Follow the butter with a sprinkling of flour into each mold and then tap out any excess.
- Use your mixer to beat the sugar, salt, and eggs into a pale yellow substance; this should take no more than two minutes. Add the vanilla, molasses, and spices, and then mix everything to combine. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and mix everything up a second time.
- Pour a third of the melted butter into the bowl and mix at a low speed. Follow this by adding half of your AP flour, continuing to mix on low.
- Add another third of the butter to the bowl, mix it in, add the rest of your AP flour, mix again and finish by adding the last of the butter and performing one final mixing.
- Use your measuring spoon to scoop and deposit 1 tablespoon of batter into each mold in your pan.
- Transfer the madeleine pan to your oven and bake for 9-10 minutes; just long enough for the dough to spring back when touched over the top.
- Use your knife to facilitate removing the finished madeleines from the pan, transferring them to your cooling rack.
- Give the madeleines time to cool, no more than 10 minutes at most, before transferring them to a platter.
- Finish the cakes off with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Note that while a madeleine pan is traditional, the end result is just as tasty if you must resort to small loaf pans or cupcake liners.
Adriana is a baker owns her own bake shop. She also teaches classes at a local community center and workshops. She also volunteers on various feeding programs.