The madeleine is a classic French beauty.
When executed well, the elegant, buttery, cake-like cookie has crisp scalloped edges and...a humpback.
"The hump is famous," says the charming, sweets-obsessed blogger, author and American expat David Lebovitz. "No one really knows what it's for, but everyone wants to know how to get that hump."
Lebovitz was once a pastry cook at Chez Panisse and has been baking, blogging and writing books in Paris for the last ten years. In My Paris Kitchen ($22), his latest, Lebovitz tackles the delicate, golden-crumbed cookie (see the recipe).
The secret to getting the rise you need? A little baking powder and a lot of rest--Lebovitz lets the batter sit for an hour, twice.
He also adds a bit of honey for flavor and moisture. The result is a lovely cookie that's best eaten immediately, while still warm, ideally with a cup of tea (and which tastes just as delicious if the hump doesn't materialize).
"They're the perfect treat when I want something that's not too sweet," says Lebovitz, who's been known to pop a few for breakfast.
"I love a little light cake in the morning."