Matcha Madeleines – Green Tea & Lemon Sponges
Are you a matcha fan? Do you know what it is? It’s a wonderful ingredient to use in baking. These green matcha madeleines are little cakes with attitude. They’re flavoured with Japanese green tea powder (matcha) for complexity and lemon for freshness.
What is Matcha?
Matcha powder is made from very finely ground Japanese green tea leaves. It has a distinctive flavour and many purported health benefits. I have more details about this in a matcha hot chocolate post.
Many Japanese drink matcha on a daily basis. CT tried it for the first time when he visited Japan a few years ago and really liked it. He bought me back a couple of packs and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been drinking and using it in baking ever since.
Matcha is expensive, but a little goes a long way. There are two types. The highest quality is called ceremonial grade. This is the only one used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. If you want to drink matcha, either with hot water or milk, it’s best to go for this grade. The powder is finer and is generally produced to a higher standard. When it comes to baking, however, you don’t need to have the best quality. If you’re only ever going to use matcha for baking or adding to smoothies, you don’t want to spend more than you need to on it. Look for culinary or baking matcha.
Having said that, the names are less important than the price. Generally, the higher the grade, the more expensive it will be and vice versa. My latest ceremonial batch came from our local tea shop, but you can easily buy it on Amazon. One of the best I’ve ever tried is this one from Matcha Factory*. A little whisking and there were no lumps in my tea at all. This 100g pouch of green tea powder* is pretty cheap, despite calling itself ceremonial. I suspect it wouldn’t make the best tea, but I’d be happy to use it for baking.
Madeleines de Commercy
Madeleines are small French sponges that are particularly well known for their distinctive shell-like shape. Originally, they came from Commercy in the North East of France. When I need cakes at the last minute, they’re one of my go to bakes. Traditionally, they’re flavoured with vanilla or lemon, but the possibilities are endless. They’re soft and buttery with delightful crisp edges. They’re also really quite delicious.
I won’t go on about Marcel Proust’s A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. I’ve probably done so in some of my previous madeleine recipe posts. But it’s impossible not to mention it. The book has immortalised this classic French bake and the two are now closely entwined.
Matcha Madeleines (aka Matcheleines)
I made these matcha madeleines for the first time a few years ago for a friend’s birthday party. CT refers to them as Matcheleines. I based the recipe on these chocolate chilli madeleines. As some of you will have gathered by now, I’m a big fan of using matcha in baking. It works particularly well, not only giving an interesting colour, but adding great flavour too. They were as good as I was hoping they might be; CT would have happily demolished the lot given half the chance. There were certainly none left at the end of the evening.
You can find out what other bakes I made for this event in my walnut brownies post. There were quite a few of them as I remember.
These little sponges are quick to make and even faster to bake. They can be on your table in 30 minutes from start to finish. I used to make them with half wholemeal flour and half plain white, but these days I make them with 100% wholemeal spelt. They turn out to be just as light and fluffy as a half and half mixture. They’re best eaten on the day of baking and preferably soon after emerging from the oven.
These matcha madeleines are dark green in colour. If you’d prefer a lighter green, use less matcha powder. But bear in mind, this will result in a less flavoursome sponge.
For a classic French madeleine, you should brown the butter to make beurre noisette. This means you need to simmer the butter once it’s melted, until the solids separate out and start to turn brown. You need to be careful at this stage as they can easily burn. Done well, this gives a delicious nutty flavour to the madeleines, which I really like. However, for this recipe, I wanted the freshness of lemon and the taste of matcha to shine through, so I simply melted the butter.
It’s All About The Hump
Despite the beautiful clam like shape you get on one side of the muffins, madeleines are all about the hump. Bakers tend to refer to the domed back of the madeleine as a hump, but it’s actually called the “pearl”. There are said to be two processes involved in achieving a good hump.
The key to getting a beautifully light sponge is to whip the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is pale, thick and has tripled in volume. This can be done with a hand whisk, but is far easier and quicker if you do it with electric beaters. Make sure your eggs are at room temperature, rather than cold from the fridge. This will help them bind the mixture together and absorb the flour more effectively.
Unlike a traditional sponge, when you cream the butter and sugar together, you add melted butter to the whipped sugar and eggs instead. Make sure the butter has had a chance to cool to room temperature, then slowly pour it down the side of the bowl. Fold it in gently with a metal spoon. Lastly, fold in the sieved dry ingredients as lightly as possible. For light sponges such as these matcha madeleines, I discard any bran left in the sieve.
The general wisdom is that you need to rest the batter for at least 30 minutes before baking. This allows the flour to relax which gives a softer sponge. It may be that wholemeal spelt is relaxed enough, as I don’t always remember to do this bit, but I invariably achieve the requisite hump. Indeed, when I’m in a hurry to get these matcha madeleines on the table, I don’t have time to let them rest. You may like to try both ways and see which you think works best.
If you do go down this route, cover the bowl with a cloth and leave for up to twelve hours. Spoon the batter into the madeleine moulds just before baking.
When it comes to baking madeleines, you do need a madeleine mould or tin. They aren’t difficult to get hold of and they’re not expensive either. I use a 12 hole silicone mould* which I bought many years ago and have never regretted. If you have a silicone mould, you don’t need to do anything to it, other than spoon in the batter. The product I’ve linked to is the nearest I could find to the one I have. If you go down the tin route, however, you will need to both butter and flour the holes before spooning in the batter.
Other Madeleine Recipes You Might Like
- Almond madeleines with raspberry glaze via The Foodie Journey
- Apple & cinnamon madeleines via Baking Queen 74
- Chilli chocolate madeleines via Tin and Thyme
- Gluten-free madeleines via Gluterama
- Honey thyme & white chocolate madeleines via Tin and Thyme
- Lemon madeleines via Lost in Food
- Smores chocolate madeleines via Crumbs & Corkscrews
- Spiced pumpkin madeleines via Sneaky Veg
Follow this link if you’re interested in other Tin and Thyme matcha green tea recipes.
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make these matcha madeleines, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or via social media. Do share photos on your preferred social media site and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
Matcha Madeleines. Pin It.
Matcha Madeleines (Matcheleines) – The Recipe
Matcha Madeleines (Matcheleines)
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs - I used duck eggs
- 75 g golden caster sugar
- 90 g wholemeal spelt flour
- 1 tbsp matcha green tea powder
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 lemon - grated zest only
- Melt the butter gently in a small pan then set aside to cool.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is pale, thick and has trebled in volume. You can do this by hand, but electric beaters make the job a lot easier and faster.
- Pour the butter in down one side of the bowl and fold this in as gently as possible together with the lemon zest.
- Sift in the flour, discarding any bits of bran left in the sieve. Then sift in the matcha and baking powder. Fold in as gently as possible trying not to lose too much air from the eggs.
- Place 1 tbsp of the mixture into each of 16 Madeleine moulds. I use silicone, but if using tin ones, you'll need to butter and flour them first.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven for 10 minutes at 200℃ (400℉, Gas 6) or until well risen and firm to the touch. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool, then dust with caster sugar if desired.
As Madeleines are a classic French bake (mais peut etre pas normalment avec le matcha), I am entering them into Tea Time Treats. This month, the theme is French tarts, cakes bakes and pastries – ooh la la. It’s hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage and co-hosted by Kate of What Kate Baked.
These matcha madeleines fit nicely into Bloggers Around the World where Chris has chosen Japan for this month’s national cuisine. Matcha is the taste of Japan for CT who drank it zealously whilst he was there.
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