Madeleines- some Parisian baking and Bastille Day in ‘La Ville-Lumière’

Madeleines, some Parisian Baking

Paris has always been top of my travel list, one of the closest cities that I have never visited. Just a short train journey away, I can’t believe it has taken me so long. We arrived via Eurostar on the 11th July having booked an apartment to rent online. This little home from home was just along the road from the Place de la Bastille, very handy for walking to many of the must-see spots. It was gorgeous, and had a tiny little kitchen complete with an oven {so many of the places we looked at just had a microwave}, perfect for a bit of Parisian baking.

We planned this 5 day trip so that we could meet up with some friends who were visiting from America. We met them back in 2008, at a hostel in Tokyo and have since met them in 3 other separate countries over the past few years! They write an excellent travel blog which you can find here.

Unbeknown to me when I booked the break, it happened to include Bastille day, La Fête de la Bastille, which falls every 14th July commemorating the storming of the Bastille in 1789.

We went along to one of the Bal de Pompiers, at CS Chaligny on the night before. It was a fun party at one of the many fire stations in Paris which hold a Firemans Ball to raise money on the evening before Bastille day.

There was live music being played on stage in the yard plus a DJ {one of the station’s fire fighters} in the garage where the fire engines usually live. This room was jumping, we partied the night away in there to some great music.

Bal de Pompiers!

It was 4 in the morning before we got back to the apartment, there was no way on earth I was going to be up in time to be on the Champs-Élysées for the Military Parade the next morning.

We wandered instead down to the Place de la Bastille just in time to see the fly-over of planes which had signaled the start of the parade. We hung around there and waited. The military vehicles eventually appeared and we got a front row view as they passed in front of the July Column, which had been festively topped with a flourish of Tricolores.

In the evening we gathered on the north bank of the Seine to watch the firework display, the Eiffel Tower twinkled as the fireworks filled the night sky with colour. It was quite magical. The theme for this years display was disco, and there was a large mirrored disco ball hanging within the iconic structure.

Other than the Bastille day celebrations, we did plenty of other cultural stuff. We did a self guided walking tour of Montmartre, which included climbing to the top of the Sacre Coeur.

A walk up to the Champs-Élysées and climbed the Arc de Triomphe. We spent a lovely evening exploring the Musée d’Orsay, I was thrilled to find one of my favourite paintings in there, Edward Burne Jones’s Wheel of Fortune. We visited Notre Dame, the church of St Sulpice and the church of St Germain des Pres. Had a picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg and lots of wonderful little wanders around the city.

My favourite thing was the wandering, especially in the evening. The city had a great atmosphere, we often detoured over onto the Île de la Cité on our walk home.

I wanted something simple yet quintessentially French to bake while I was there. Madeleines seemed to be the obvious choice. We often had them served on the side of coffee at the cafes, so pretty and buttery. I took a silicon madeleine pan with me so that I wouldn’t be wasting time trying to find one. It rolled up small and light in my suitcase.

There is nothing scary about making Madeleines, in fact I would say quite the opposite. Mine turned out magnificently, despite the fact that I had no mixing bowl {I had to use breakfast bowls and a saucepan} and no scales. I found an old jug and had to convert the millilitres to cups, even then I wasn’t accurate.

The thing with madeleines is that the batter needs to rest, for at least an hour or so. It can rest over night, so I made mine after an exhausting day and left it in the fridge till the next morning, baking them while I had breakfast.

There is a little bit of trickery to baking them, to get them perfect, but nothing complicated. You need to open the oven door for a minute, mid bake. Yes, I know that breaks all the rules for baking cakes, but it really does help the madeleines to rise spectacularly. 

The main thing is to use the best ingredients you can, I used Isigny butter from Normandy. Once you’ve made them, you’ll be baking them again and again.  

Perfect for when you have friends round for coffee, I mean, how civilized, coffee and madeleines!

Just imagine you’re sat outside a cafe, a dashing Parisian waiter has just brought you your coffee, you dip in your madeleine as you take in the view of la Tour Eiffel across the Seine.


oven 180 C / gas 4

madeleine pan greased and floured unless silicone {no need to grease the silicone ones, they pop right out}

makes about 22 madeleines

This recipe is a stripped down version of Rachel Khoo’s Madeleines, from her most wonderful ‘Little Paris Kitchen

  • 130 g good quality unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 free range eggs at room temperature
  • 90 g golden caster sugar
  • 130 g plain flour
  • 6 g baking powder {baking powder tends to come in sachets in France, this is half an 11g sachet)
  • 3 tbsp milk

Melt your butter, either in a microwave or in a pan, and set aside to cool.

Break the eggs into a large bowl and add the sugar. Either by hand with a balloon whisk, or using a hand held mixer, beat until light and full of air.

Add the milk to the butter then whisk into the sugar/egg mixture. Combine the baking powder thoroughly with the flour in another bowl then sift half of it into the batter. Fold in with a metal spoon then sift the rest of the flour in and fold that in.

Now cover your bowl and pop it into the fridge. Leave it to rest for at least a couple of hours, better still overnight.

When you are ready to bake them, set your oven to 180 C / gas 4. Place a heaped spoonful or so into each of the shells in your madeleine pan, try not to over fill them or they will spill out over the mould. If you are using a silicon mould, place it onto a plain baking sheet for stability. Depending on how many  madeleines your pan can make you may have 2 or 3 batches. Bake just one batch at a time.

Place in the hot oven and set the timer for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off, open the oven door wide. Leave the oven on and give it 1 minute open. Now shut the door and set the timer for 8 minutes, your madeleines should now rise! Check them after 7 or 8 minutes, they might need a few more minutes, depending on how efficient your oven is as reheating.

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Give your pan a quick wash and dry then repeat the process until all the batter is used up. Serve them as they are, as fresh as possible or dust with icing sugar.

By Rachel A Davis   Follow on Bloglovin

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18 Responses

  1. BrandiD says:

    Your post reminds me of when my husband and I visited Paris back in 2008!! Fascinating!

  2. kris says:

    What a lovely post, and some great photos too!

  3. Arti says:

    Beautiful blog and what a wonderful (and brave) idea to be a vagabonde baker. I’ll definitely come back to visit more… Thanks for stopping by Ripple Effects.

  4. sweetcraving says:

    I love Paris so much! I would give anything to go there this summer! Im officially jealous. And that little bird, how sweet! I love madeleines, lovely post.

  5. what a lovely memory you’ll have every time you use your madeleine pan. how cool that you brought it along to use in paris!

  6. bakearama says:

    Stunning photos! And yummy looking madeleines 🙂

  7. Jorie says:

    Love the photos of Paris! Thank you for the mental vacation.

  8. Dave says:

    Another great posting, packed full with adventures! I was finally lucky enough to personally sample your baking, and I can say the Madeleines were delicious!

  9. Beautiful pictures (as always). Is the bird trained?

    • hahah, no, he was a very cheeky wild sparrow which appeared into the frame as I was about to press the shutter!
      I have, however raised a female sparrow a few years ago, she was trained!