By Keighley’s Mike Armstrong, an award-winning master baker with a big passion for baking...

WHERE have all the Madeleines gone?

These undoubtedly originate from France, but the historical details remain quite mystical.

One legend goes back to the Middle Ages and is centred on a girl named Madeleine, who it is said was given a little cake baked in a shell and brought the recipe back from Spain to France.

Another theory relates to the deposed king of Poland, exiled to Lorraine in France, and they were supposedly created by one of his maid's grandmothers – called Madeleine. He became smitten with them and started serving Madeleines to the French court, and they spread throughout France.

Today, you can find them in almost every French cafe, selling like hot cakes.

Making Madeleines can be an organised process, and English Madeleines are so different from their French counterparts.

Many people have written about the differences, so let's set the record straight once and for all.

The French bake their sponges in seashell-shaped Dariole tins, which give them an elegant look and simple beauty, sitting exquisitely in a coffee cup saucer, whilst us Brits used to bake our Madeleines in good old-fashioned bun tins (who owns Dariole tins? Not me!).

We like to smother our Madeleines in raspberry jam and then roll them in desiccated coconut, which can also be toasted, placing a cherry on top. Coating your Madeleines in jam and coconut is a bit like coating fishcakes in breadcrumbs – the first few are easy, but after that things tend to get a little messy, with sticky fingers! The trick here to make things easier is to use a fork. It's much simpler to stick a fork in the bottom of the Madeleine, turn it around in warm jam and then in the coconut.

This is a recipe I remember fondly from my early baking years, when I was covered to the armpits in jam and coconut!

Madeleine is also a beautiful and elegant name for a girl, with the nickname Maddie.



Makes 12


225g/8oz butter or margarine, softened

225g/8oz caster sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

8oz/225g self-raising flour, sieved

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional

6 good tablespoons of raspberry jam, warm

200g/7oz desiccated coconut, approximate amount

6 whole cherries cut in half


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 5 and butter 12 bun or muffin tins.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.

3. Slowly add the eggs until you have a smooth batter, and fold in the flour with the milk and vanilla extract until it’s combined well.

4. Spoon the batter into buttered bun moulds, ensuring it’s divided equally.

5. Bake for around 20 minutes or till golden brown, and leave to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a cooling wire.

6. Once cooled, brush each sponge using a fork with the warm jam and then roll in coconut, placing into fancy bun papers with half a cherry on top.