Summertime speaks of hot days spent at the pool or traveling to the beach, grilling all kinds of delicious goodies, outdoor adventures at the park and anything else that speaks of it's vibrancy. Now, I've done quite a few of those things already and probably will do them again, but lately it's been the little things. Freshly picked berries from my mother-in-law's huge garden, late evening walks with flitting fireflies, watching my 1 year-old son discover the world around him, and finally the smell of everything in bloom.
Over the years I have learned that the many things I considered strange in the culinary world are actually quite normal and delicious when done right. Take for example flavoring something with rose water: if you don't use the right stuff, you will not like the results. The first time I had a dessert flavored with rose water, I thought it tasted like it had a generous dollop of fragranced hand lotion added to it. So I decided based on that experience that I wasn't interested in cooking with such flavors.
Over time I couldn't help but notice that rose water, among other flavors, was a classic and widely used ingredient in many desserts around the world (baklava anyone?) which told me that maybe I should give it a try for myself. So I went online, chose the one I liked best and discovered that there is a right and a wrong when it comes to rose water. Here is the deal, rose water (and orange blossom water as a matter of fact) is made using two methods: water and/or alcohol combined with rose essential oil or simply and purely rose hydrosol - the aromatic water that remains after steam-distilling the flower petals. It is the difference between eating something that tastes like its been doused in hand lotion or eating something that tastes of gentle floral with hints of fruit and spice. Take your pick.
Ecclesiastes 1 states that there is nothing new under the sun and I find it to be true in every sense. This recipe isn't new by any means, especially since I adapted it from David Lebovitz's The Sweet Life in Paris, but I did put some work into giving it my own touch with the addition of rose water and crushed rose petals. Now I must confess that I originally started working on this recipe with the intention of coming up with a version that is completely my own but after numerous attempts with various recipes, I realized that not every recipe needs to be made over. After all, someone had already put the effort into making it a success, why change it?
My tips for success:
- I HIGHLY recommend this brand of rose water (and orange blossom water if you are interested).
- I found that baking spray is NOT enough. I even attempted double coats and the cakes still stuck to the pan. The old-school butter and flour method is the best way to go.
- The part about freezing the pan before and after the portioning of the batter is important. Do it.
- The dough spreads and rises as it bakes so do not worry about spreading out the crushed rose petals. A sprinkle in one spot will do the job.
- I used a size #50 cookie scoop that yields just over a tablespoon (about 1 oz) of dough when portioning.
- I used both a dark non-stick mold and a tinned steel mold. They both work great though the dark colored one bakes faster so start checking for doneness a couple minutes earlier.
Interesting fact about these delicate cakes: it is not about the shells. The traditional hallmark of a well-made madeleine is the "hump" - the bigger the better and if they burst, producing a crack down the middle of the cake, you've reached the epitome of madeleine making (in my opinion).
Rose Petal Madeleines
Adapted from David Lebovitz's The Sweet Life in Paris
Makes 32 cookies
- Whisk together eggs, sugar, and salt until homogenous and slightly frothy.
- Sift together the flour and baking powder, then stir into the egg mixture until well combined.
- Add the vanilla paste and rose water to the melted butter, whisk to combine. Add the butter mixture to the egg and flour mixture in 2 increments, stirring to incorporate the butter into the batter thoroughly each time.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
- Heat your oven to 425 ℉. Brush your madeleine mold with the softened butter and sprinkle with flour, shaking off the excess. Place in the freezer for 10 min or until ready to use.
- Scoop the chilled dough onto the madeleine pan using a cookie scoop or tablespoon (portions should be about 1 ounce).
- Sprinkle a hefty pinch of crushed rose petals onto the center of each dough round. Place the filled madeleine pan back into the freezer for 10 minutes to chill before baking.
- Bake for 7-9 minutes if using a steel pan and start checking earlier if using a dark colored non-stick pan. The cakes are finished baking when they have formed the classic "humps" and the edges become golden brown.
- Transfer the cakes out of the mold and onto a cooling rack. Cool for 15-30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
- 3 large eggs (room temperature)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
- 2 tsp rose water
- 9 tbsp unsalted butter, melted & cooled
- 2 tbsp dried rose petals, crushed fine
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour