Madeleine

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In the picture doesn’t it look promising to you? But this little cake has a history behind, as I know it was from France. Here is a article from a writer named Albert Jack.

In the remembrance of Cakes Past: The Petite Madeleine

She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines’. which looks as though they had been moulded in fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell. And soon, mechanically, weary after a dull day with the prospect of depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place… at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory…

Small sponge cakes baked in distinctive shell-shaped moulds, madeleines are now among the most recognizable cakes in the world compared to financiers and visitandines thanks to Marcel Proust (1871-1922) and his In search of Lost Time. Eating a madeleine (in the passage from the book quoted above) sends the narrator off on a very long journey into involuntary memory. But who was the original Madeleine that they were named after? Some sources suggest that she was a French pastry chef working for the deposed king of Poland, Stanislaw Leszczynski. Forced by an assassination attempt to seek exile in France, he and his family moved to the Chateau de Commercy in the commune of Commercy in north-eastern France. When in 1755 Madeleine Paulmier became his pastry chef, she supposedly invented the cake to cheer up the exiled king.

But the cakes are much more likely to be named after a very different Madeleine, for Madeleine is also the French name for Mary Magdalen, the former prostitute and follower of Jesus. Several orders of nuns have taken her name and that, twinned with the cake’s distinctive scallop-shell shape (the points out above), would suggest that the cakes were originally baked with more religious purpose in mind, and scallop-shell been worn as a protector in those day, perhaps to remind those who ate them that while, like Mary / Madeleine herself, we are all sinners, we are also pilgrims on a hopeful journey to find God.

No matter what happened in the past of madeleine, now we remembered a little story about it and pass it on to the next generation. Let’s bake it and enjoy! Stay tuned for my recipe update tomorrow, you will going to have a lift by madeleine.

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