It's almost impossible to write about madeleines without mentioning Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. While he combined my two favorite pastimes—pastries and prose—in his opus, he did omit one small item: a recipe. He left it up to us, mere mortals with unsustainable appetites for perfect teacakes, to recreate the petite sweet that he devoted 1,500 words to.
A crisp-edged, buttery confection, the madeleine is best served warm and fragrant, straight out of the oven. The keys to insuring that critical sloping hump in the middle of the shell are, of course, owning a madeleine pan and chilling the batter overnight before baking. It works likes a charm every single time—that, and a pinch of double-acting baking powder.
While Proust's ideal madeleine was plain and dunked in tea, my taste in teacakes leans a bit more toward the contemporary. I love teacakes when they're combined with fruit or infused with tea, and I also prefer to dip them in something other than a beverage. This recipe for date and Earl Grey tea madeleines with muscavado dip and these sticky toffee Earl Grey madeleines with caramel sauce combine the best of both of my favorites.