Ah, so we woke up to some snow flurries yesterday, with more expected for today. Mr. Weather, you’ve made me a fool, believing that spring was here! Now, I just want to curl up in a ball underneath my blanket! But alas, the kids are calling…
But let me tell you about this woody plant that always makes an appearance at our community garden: the lemon verbena (also known as lemon balm). Always by its lonesome at the edge of the field, it attracts none but a few who know its identity. As I am one of them, I usually get first pick of the buds and leaves. I gather them by the sprigs, run home to my kitchen, put the kettle on, and make me some tisane (a brew made with steeped herbs and flowers as opposed to tea leaves).
But this time, I wanted a break from my afternoon brew and create a tea confection instead. I’ve always taken a keen interest in baking with tea and herbal infusions, like this Earl Grey and Pink Grapefruit Tart I made. This Verbena Madeleine recipe couldn’t be any more simpler – the only additional step is to steep the verbena leaves (or tea bags, if using) in nicely warm, melted butter before mixing it in the batter.
I’m sure most of you know the story of the famed madeleine already – thus cherished by Parisian high society then and now – so we’ll skip that part and go straight away to the delicious stuff. Sorry, my gluten-free friends, this one’s made with regular wheat flour (my weekend cheat). I have yet to develop and test a good gluten-free version, but when I do, you can bet that I will be posting immediately. But for now, enjoy these splendid French treats…because as you can see, even my littlest one have Proustian tendencies!
- 50 grams whole egg (2 large), at room temperature
- 75 grams (1/3 cup) fine granulated sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 6 loose verbena leaves or 1 bag verbena tisane (Kusmi brand is a good one)
- 75 grams (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing and to finish
- 100 grams (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Warm the mixing bowl over simmering water or in low heat in the oven.
- Place the sugar and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl and rub them together until well combined.
- Break the eggs with the sugar and lemon mixture and beat with an electric whisk or stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat until thick and doubled in volume, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the verbena leaves or tisane. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Strain the butter and discard the verbena sprigs or tea. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C) and butter 12 regular madeleine tin pockets.
- Sift the flour and baking soda together, then sift them again into the egg mixture and gently fold it in.
- Next, pour the butter into the batter mix in a thin, steady stream, and continue folding gently until just combined.
- Spoon or pipe the batter into each madeleine mould, filling them about three-quarters full.
- Put a thin, flat piece of butter (about ¼ teaspoon) onto the centre of each madeleine to get that characteristic bump.
- Place the tray in the oven and bake about 9 to 10 minutes until well risen and slightly browned at the edges.
- Remove tray from oven and loosen up each madeleine from the tray. Let it set on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.