These Spanish sponge cakes are also known in France as Madeleines; but whatever they are called, they are eggy, buttery and light with a hint of lemon, and one of my favorite breakfasts. Magdalenas have been made since the Middle Ages, and they probably have something to do with the pilgrimage route through Northern Spain, which was a highly popular activity centuries ago. When my daughter Lorraine and I were there on our pilgrimage a few years ago, Magdalenas were everywhere. These days, they are eaten for breakfast with cafe con leche or dipped in cold whole milk. In the Basque region of Spain, you see them as little square cakes baked in special hand-folded cake papers instead of magdalena forms. The papers are charming, but I do like the way the French bake them – in the shell shape.
If you can bake muffins – and if you can read, you can bake muffins – you can make Magdalenas. They are easy to make, they turn out moist and delicious, and best of all, they can be baked several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
• 4 eggs
• 1/2 cup butter, melted
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 1 cup flour
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 tsp baking powder
• Gratings of the rind of half a lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use silicone magdalena forms or lightly buttered metal magdalena forms. Beat the eggs with the melted butter. Stir together the dry ingredients, then add the egg mixture, stirring quickly just until mixed. Bake for about 11 minutes. When you can press your finger in the center of one and it springs back, it is done. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven, allow to sit for a minute or two then invert onto a cooling rack. Serve warm, and dunk them in a cup of cold whole milk. Yum! Warm, slightly sweet, juicy!
To give as favors:
Allow magdalenas to cool thoroughly, then put three into a medium cellophane bag. Slide a stiff card in back for support. Fold down the top of the bag and seal with a shape 14 label; use a shape 34 wide label on the front.