Here’s a buttery, soft-spiced cake, studded with currants, slivers of almonds and a hint of candied orange peel, that makes a perfectly elegant holiday treat for breakfast, afternoon tea or dessert. Chopped preserved lemon adds a wonderfully tart touch to these stollen-inspired madeleines.
For me, Christmas preparations begin in the aisles of a gourmet bulk foods store with a wire basket slung over my arm studying arrays of tantalizing baking supplies.
I might be shopping for rolled oats and walnut halves so that we can make granola to gift to the school teachers. Other times my basket could hold a colourful assortment of candy for our after-school gingerbread project. There are always dried apricots and hazelnuts for my essential holiday fruit and nut crisps and loads of whole cloves so we can spend a snowy afternoon making orange pomander balls.
This year, I found myself stopping in front of a bin of beautiful candied orange peel that was sandwiched between the slightly more garish fruitcake mixed peel and the much-too-sweet candied pineapple chunks. My thoughts traveled back to a December afternoon long ago when Danny and I had worked side-by-side to produce a dozen stollen loaves straight out of the Joy of Cooking. We coated those beauties in powdered sugar, wrapped them in cellophane, and delivered them on Christmas Eve to loved ones. The German fruitcake makes a delicious breakfast, sliced and lightly toasted, with coffee, of course.
On an impulse, I scooped out a small bag of the perfectly cubed orange peel and added it my basket. I sought out dried currants and slivered almonds, too. Perhaps this would be the year I’d revisit a once-beloved holiday loaf.
As a family, we aim to make each holiday season unique and special, and avoid anything that feels forced or expected. This year in particular, we are really changing things up, as we’re packing the presents and road tripping out to Nova Scotia for Christmas. We need a change of scenery. Since the surgery we’ve been housebound while Danny recovers – and it’s been great, but a week on the ocean sounds like a glimpse of heaven right now. My sister and Danny’s brother live in Halifax (the wedding couple, remember?) and we’ll celebrate with them. We fell in love with Halifax and its surrounding area two summers ago and we’re excited to return. I may have already mapped out the route from my sister’s house to Peggy’s Cove.
But let me tell you about the madeleines in today’s post. Although I buck most holiday traditions, there are a few treats I have to bake come December. Shortbread is an essential cookie, whether it be rolled and cut, or pressed and chocolate-dipped. There also needs to be fruitcake, whether it be panettone, stollen or my mother’s dark and delicious panforte. And then there are madeleines: the tender French shell-shaped cakes.
Madeleines happen to be my children’s absolute favourite treat for a special breakfast and I love the ease with which they come together for a Christmas breakfast. The buttery batter is prepared the evening before. Then in the morning, as the kettle boils for our Chemex coffee, I butter the pans, drop the batter in by the spoonful, and voilà, we have warm madeleines fifteen short minutes later.
All this to say that as I was unpacking my load of holiday baking ingredients and tucking them into jars, I started thinking about stollen again. It struck me that although the loaf has entirely different origins than the delicate madeleine, both have similarities that put them on the same page. Ingredients like almonds and citrus, Christmas spices and heaps of butter. Then and there, I knew I had to try a combination of the two. I figured they were either going to be utterly horrific or astonishingly delicious. I added a tablespoon of rum to help tip the scales toward the latter.
I’m happy to report that this is a recipe mash-up we can all get behind for the holidays. The Christmas Stollen Madeleines with Preserved Lemon are indeed astonishingly delicious. (You know I wouldn’t be sharing them here with you if they were anything else.) A buttery, soft-spiced three-bite-cake, studded with currants, slivers of almonds and a hint of candied orange peel.
How did the preserved lemons come into the recipe? Well I was testing a theory of mine that everything is better with preserved lemon. I almost always have a jar of them in the refrigerator, especially during these winter months.The tangy, salty citrus rind is a magical ingredient for winter salads, pasta dishes, quinoa with brussels sprouts, roast chicken and more. My friend Alana adds them to her homemade hummus, which is utterly brilliant.
I had a hunch the chopped preserved lemons would offset the sweetness of the currants and candied orange peel, while still complementing them. Right again! It is a wonderfully surprising tart tidbit in the madeleines; a further twist of elegance in an already charming cake.
I know I’m sworn off of traditions, but these madeleines just might be on the Christmas morning menu forever and ever more.
|Christmas Stollen Madeleines with Preserved Lemon|| |
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon rum
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3 medium eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons chopped preserved lemon
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 2 Tablespoons currants
- 1 Tablespoon candied orange peel
- Melt butter slowly in a small pan. Add rum and set aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and cardamom.
- Crack eggs into a medium bowl. Add salt and sugar and then beat until frothy.
- Tip flour into the eggs and fold together until partially mixed. Toss in the preserved lemon, almonds, currants and candied orange peel. Pour the melted butter over everything and stir to combine well.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to one day.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Generously butter a madeleine pan and dust with flour. Lightly tap the pan upside down on the counter to remove the excess flour.
- Measure 2 tablespoons of madeleine batter into each mold. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 13-15 minutes. The tops should be slightly puffed and the edges light golden.
- Remove the madeleines from the oven and immediately invert the pan over a cooling rack. Tap gently to release the cakes.
- Wash and butter the pan again and bake the remaining batter. Enjoy madeleines warm.
Our blogging group is back with plenty of inspiration for December cooking and baking. Becky of The Vintage Mixer is our leader (check out her recipe guide for December) and her husband Josh does the beautiful illustrations.
- Pomegranate Yogurt Bowls by Mountain Mama Cooks
- Persimmon Pumpkin Tart with Streusel Top by Suitcase Foodist
- Meyer Lemon Cottage Cheese Sugar Cookies by Food for My Family
- Kale Salad with Goat Cheese, Cranberries and Orange by Flavor the Moments
- Avocado Toast with Persimmon, Pomegranate and Fennel by Floating Kitchen
- Butternut Squash Cake with Roasted Apples and Spiced Cream by Vintage Mixer
- Persimmon Tart with Pecan Crust by Letty’s Kitchen
- Cabbage Slaw with Honey Lime Yogurt Vinaigrette by The Lemon Bowl
- Roasted Persimmon Butter by Cafe Johnsonia
- Lemon Poppyseed Baked Oatmeal by Project Domestication
- Persimmon Apple Crumb Pie by Kitchen Confidante
- Asian Orange Glazed Chicken by Foodie Crush
- Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole with Butternut Squash and Cranberries by Well Plated
What is on your Christmas morning menu? Are you a traditionalist or not?