My initial post for A Year From Scratch was a manifesto, of sorts. It started with a simple French recipe, of a sort. But it wasn't even a recipe, it was about a lifestyle, the lifestyle you have when you start making more of your food from scratch. It was about Croutons.
Roughly one year has passed, and I have, on average, made one dish per week that people normally think of as something that you purchase, but instead can be made at home, From Scratch. More often than not, the dishes that we made here at A Year From Scratch have been pretty simple to do. Not all of them have been easy, and not all of them have been successful, but it's been great getting a feel for just what is involved in making your life one with more things in it made From Scratch than bought from the store.
My favorites, by and large, have been the Utility Ingredients. Things you (usually) wouldn't eat on their own, but are added to another dish to make it better: mayonnaise, chili powder, creme fraiche, and so on. Little fuss, high flavor, and something that gets added into all of the things that you make throughout the year.
For my final recipe, I've decided to go with something French, to bookend with my French post. It's not quite as simple, but it's not all that difficult. In a rare move, this item requires a piece of equipment that, frankly, you're probably not going to use for anything else. Yes, a unitasker. Oh, if you're concerned you could make some chocolate truffles or jello in it or something. Maybe some fancy ice cubes, or soap. But really, it's a madeleine pan, and it's for making madeleines.
At the coffee chain Starbucks, which you may have heard of if you live in a big city, most of the pastries are fairly dismal. The one thing they make that isn't so bad is the madeleines. So, if you're desperate, get those. But, better yet, you should just make some at home, like so.
If you don't have nut allergies, start with 1/4 cup of almonds:
and process in a food processor:
Take the sugar and eggs and mix in a stand mixer:
For a couple of seconds until you realize that not only is your beater blade making a weird squeaking noise that it's never made before, but frankly this is entirely the wrong blade for this anyways and you should be using the whisk attachement:
Whip until it doubles in volume, essentially loses all the yellow color, and forms a nice stream of egg-mixture for a few seconds after you lift the beater out of the mixture. This is the ribbon stage, and is pretty standard way to mix eggs and sugar.
Once that's done, take your almonds, salt, and flour (or just salt and flour if you didn't want almonds)
Combine together, pour into the egg mixture, and fold…
(notice the color of the egg mixture compared with a couple of pictures up) …until combined. Folding, incidentally, means that rather than stirring, which will likely develop more gluten than you want, you take a spatula or similar and draw a J from the center of the bowl, down, and to the left. You rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat. It should take you about 10 iterations of that until the mixture looks like:
Take your melted butter…
…add the butter into the batter, along with some extract…
…and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, though you can cool it overnight if you want. Which, incidentally, makes it a really good dish for brunches.
Once the batter is chilled, preheat your oven to 375°F and prepare your madeline pan with a flour/fat mixture, either in spray or homemade form:
Yes, you need it even with the silicone baking pan (that is as much a note to myself as to you. I made the mistake once of thinking the silicone would release properly. It did not).
You'll probably need to stir the batter a bit to make sure the butter is mixed in well. Then use a disher to add the batter to the pan:
Cook for 11-15 minutes, until it looks like
a golden brown and delicious treat, especially around the edges. Let cool for a couple of minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack. Once they are cooled, share and enjoy.
Thank you for joining us for our year-long journey through making foods From Scratch, whether it was every week (on average), or even if you only looked at a recipe or two. We do have the entire archive available on the web site, including all of the dishes we did and our run of podcasts as well.
- 1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup of flour
- pinch of salt
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp of almond extract or 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- Whip the eggs and the sugar together until the color is almost gone, it doubles in volume, and reaches the "ribbon stage"
- Combine the salt, flour, and almonds together, pour into the egg mixture, and fold until combined.
- Add the melted butter and extract, stir to combine.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Put batter into prepared madeleine pan and bake for 11-15 minutes, until golden brown and delicious.
Makes 18 Madeleines.