Madeleines: A Shell-Shaped Cake Treat Recipe

Learn to make madeleines, these adorable French, shell-shaped cakes that perfectly balance French elegance with fluffy texture and light flavor. Follow the step-by-step Madeleines recipe and baking tips for flawless results every time.

French shell shaped cakes cooling on a rack.

I want to start with a story. I took these to a luncheon, and my friend asked me if it was cornbread, because she has a cornbread pan where you can make little corn shaped breads. What?! How cute is that? I said they were madeleines, and she didn’t know what that was.

I think it might be another Japanese heritage thing coming through. Sometimes I think, wait, why don’t you know this? Isn’t it common knowledge? Then I realize it’s totally a Japanese thing, not American. So yes, madeleines are popular in Japan. Not *quite* as well known in America.

So, if you don’t know. Madeleines, also known as Madeleine cakes, are delicate, shell-shaped cakes that are popular all over the world. They are a fusion of French elegance and irresistible flavors, making them a standout in the world of baked goods.

Mixing the madeleine batter

My mom recently sent me a bunch of kids books from Japan, and one of them was a story of a girl who makes some madeleines for a pirate princess named Madeleine. The story is totally weird (my kids loved it), but there is a recipe for madeleines in the back. Of course, my oldest INSISTED on making them.

Shell Shaped Cake Pan

You need a special pan to make these French shell shaped cakes, and I haven’t had one since moving to Kansas. Luckily, they are relatively easy to find. I got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond, but you can also find them on Amazon.

Freshly baked madeleines on the seashell baking pan.

Since it came from a kids book, I thought it should be easy enough for the kids to help make. And it was! The addition of baking powder, while non-traditional (and maybe looked down upon by purists!), makes this recipe a great gateway into madeleine baking!

I used weight measurements for this recipe, but I added in approximate volumes. Weight is more accurate, but if you don’t have a scale, use the volume. I just ran it through a conversion calculator, and put the exact amount it said. So there you go.

Baking Tips for Perfect Madeleines

  • Ensure that all ingredients are at room temperature before starting. This helps in achieving a smooth and well-incorporated batter.
  • Do not overmix the batter. Gentle folding is key to maintaining the delicate texture of the Madeleines.
  • Chilling the batter is essential. It allows the flavors to meld and develops the classic hump on the back of the Madeleines.
  • Grease the Madeleine molds generously to prevent the cookies from sticking. This ensures easy release once they are baked.
  • Keep a close eye on the baking time. Madeleines bake quickly, and overbaking can result in dry cookies.
  • For an extra touch of elegance, dust the cooled Madeleines with powdered sugar just before serving.

Have fun!

Madeleines are adorable seashell shaped butter cakes originating in France. They can be tricky to master, but this easy version uses baking powder to make them foolproof! 

2 thoughts on “Madeleines: A Shell-Shaped Cake Treat Recipe”

    • Sorry about that! It’s an optional ingredient so I didn’t have it in the video. You add it at the same time as the lemon extract! Thanks for letting me know I forgot it in there, I will update it now!


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