These petite cakes are easy, versatile, and the perfect size to give as a gift! You will need a madeleine pan to make these as they aren’t truly madeleines without the classic shell shape. This recipe doesn’t have to be the only thing you make with the special pan; you can change up the flavors to fit your mood or dip the ends in melting chocolate and let cool.

I remember seeing madeleines for the first time at Costco and then again, on my favorite TV show, The Great British Baking Show. It has since changed its name to The Great British Bake Off when it moved to a new network and changed the hosts/judges. I discovered Mary Berry, the Queen of British Baking, and became fascinated with all things European baking.

Backs of madeleines in pan

It wasn’t until we went to the lake with my husband’s family that I really ran into the madeleines because they had brought some from Costco. They were these tasty, fluffy, yellow butter cakes in the shape of a shell. I knew they must be good because one of my sister-in-law’s doesn’t normally do dessert (occasional exception of whipped cream), but she really enjoyed the shell shaped butter cakes. 

I was naturally curious about whether these madeleines would taste better homemade vs. manufactured. And who better to help me test this theory than Mary Berry?

One of the first Mary Berry books I got was her Baking Bible because it was a comprehensive classics list that I was enthused to get a closer look at. This book has both the French and English versions of madeleines but the one we are referring to is the French recipe. I did have to adapt to using European cookbooks because they use the metric system and have different words for certain ingredients like brown sugar is muscovado sugar and baking soda is bicarbonate of soda. If you don’t want to convert the measurements, I suggest getting an electric food scale. They are inexpensive, easy to use, reduces the amount of measuring cups and spoons used, and helps get an accurate measurement. 

Backs of madeleines in pan

I ran into an issue because most of the sugar used in these recipes is caster sugar, also called superfine sugar, and it isn’t as accessible in the United States. The sugar grains are in between the size of granulated and powdered sugar. Caster sugar is used in delicate baked goods as the smaller grains dissolve easier. I found a small bag of caster sugar in a specialty store but it isn’t an economical choice when baking a lot. I attempted processing granulated sugar in a food processor to get the finer grains but couldn’t get a consistent smaller grain without creating sugar dust. I also tried substituting the same ratio of granulated sugar and it has seemed to turn out a similar cake result.

Her recipe proved the homemade vs. manufactured theory correct as the cakes came out golden brown and the backs had risen with their characteristic hump. The taste was further developed by the lemon zest, enhancing the butter flavor and fluffiness.

I have tried adding sprinkles for a birthday twist, cranberries during the holidays, and pumpkin in the fall. They are all winners with the family and will be devoured in no time. I look forward to experimenting and sharing more flavor variations on this delectable treat!


Course: DessertCuisine: FrenchDifficulty: Easy


Cooking time




  • 10 tablespoons | 150 grams | 5 oz butter, plus some for greasing

  • 3 large eggs

  • ¾ cup | 150 grams | 5 oz granulated sugar

  • ¾ cup + 3 tablespoons | 150 grams | 5 oz self-rising flour

  • ½ level teaspoon baking powder

  • Grated rind of 1 medium lemon


  • Preheat the oven to 425F. Grease a madeleine pan using melted butter and a pastry brush. Dust with flour and shake off any excess. Set madeleine pan in the freezer for about 10 minutes while preparing batter.
  • Melt the butter in a small pan and allow to cool slightly. Measure the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and whisk until pale and thick.
  • Sift in half the flour with the baking powder along with the lemon rind and fold in gently. Pour in half the melted butter around the edge of the bowl and fold in. Repeat the process with the remaining flour and butter. Spoon the mixture into the prepared madeleine pans so that it is just level with the tops.
  • Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 8-10 minutes until well risen, golden and springy to the touch. Ease out of the pan with a small palette knife and cool on a wire rack. Repeat step one and bake until all the mixture has been used up.

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