madeleine-ing at midnight
one evening i was determined to bake. now most people who want to bake and work a normal job, wake up on a weekend morning bright and early and hum their way through the next few hours until just in time for a delightful late afternoon tea, ta-da!
i'm more like, a nocturnal baker on odd days of the week. the kind you find whizzing icing at 2am or drying pineapple flowers at 11pm or snoozing between cake batches from the hours of bat-awake-time to bat-sleep-time - i reckon those 17 minute power naps is what keeps me going the next day at work, plus all the sugar from tasting my own creations. so if i'm catching the beautiful early morning light to take pictures,
its because i haven't gone to bed yet
this particular evening, i was making madeleines. it was 11pm. id never made madeleines before. i hadn't even owned a madeleine tray until about an hour ago. wandering down the last supermarket aisle on the way to the checkout and seeing that pretty baking tray immediately prompted said desire to bake, quick internet search (i hate the accessibility of the internet sometimes, why couldn't the network have gone down at that time?), whoosh around the aisles to buy a few ingredients and here i was. after a 12 hour day at work. ready to bake. someone put me in a flour bin already.
now a little history about me and the delightful madeleine - i have never, ever liked them.
every madeleine i had eaten was stingy
small, dry and utterly unsatisfying, even those in france, so i wasn't expecting any big fireworks. but i had to make them because firstly i had bought a pan and secondly, everyone raved about these little delicacies. there was even a cartoon named after it. i had to find out what the fuss was all about.
this was an interesting recipe for orange and cardamon madeleines both of which i love. first step cardamon. im not usually overambitious, but when it comes to baking and i'm in the zone, God help me. the recipe called for some precisely defined quantity of crushed cardamon. i took one look at it, guffawed and proceeded to quadruple it. because, of course i know better than martha stewart. peeling the pesky little pods and crushing them in with a mortar and pestle took forever. as i shifted from one foot to the other, grumbling at yet another pod, i wondered what exactly it was, that was stopping me from this ridiculous endeavour. the only answer that came in an 'eat pray love' voice was 'keep peeling!'
much time later, after chasing errant cardamon seeds all over the counter (they fly out when pounded), i was quite weary. as i carefully zested two big beautiful naval oranges, the citrusy oils brought in summery beach freshness and woke me up. the rest was easy, so easy that before i knew it, i was anxiously peering into the oven
like a mother duck egging her ducklings on.
when the first lot came out, i was quite dumfounded. they were that sea-shell shape. they had ridges. they were cookie-cakey. they were tender and sweet and oh-so mouthwateringly very very good. this was no coffeehouse fake madeline, this was france right here in my kitchen raising the flag! these were scrumptious!
hot out of the oven, i picked one up, broke it half and before you could say, the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, i had eaten.. three. in my defence, one was for first taste, two was for confirmation and three was because odd numbers are better than even ones.
a while later the cooled madeleines were coated with a thin layer of [real] orange flavoured icing with little lashings of orange zest. at this point it was 6am, the sun was coming up and the bats had sensibly disappeared. as i gazed lovingly at the baked deliciousness in front of me, i heard Chandlers voice in my head say 'could it get any better?!' this was my cue! i had another three iced madeleines and promptly took myself off to bed before i could get arrested.