Madeleines, Proust, Paul Auster, and the Brooklyn Bridge
Posted on July 30, 2013
This is the epitome of summer in New York. A perfect evening, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, listening to great writers read the work of another great writer (organized by the fabulous Community Bookstore in Park Slope).
Of course, the 100th anniversary of “Swann’s Way” called for a picnic of madeleines. I thought there would be dozens of us feasting on the little cakes, but from what I could tell, I was the only one. Paul Auster read the famous passage, so I sat there and enjoyed the “little scallop-shell of pastry, so richly sensual under its severe, religious folds”* while a cool breeze swept of the East River, ferries honked and helicopters droned overhead. The city at its best.
I opted for pistachio madeleines. It’s certainly not the way Proust would have had them, but the fact is that nobody knows what Prousts madeleines actually tasted like (it seems to be a matter of some controversy), and I couldn’t resist the vibrant green pistachios that were sitting on my counter, waiting to be used for something delicious.
*Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way (The Modern Library, 1992), page 63., translation by C.K.Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin (New York, The Modern Library, 1992), page 63.
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground pistachios
a pinch of salt
1 1/4 sticks of butter (10 tblsp.), melted and cooled to room temperature
Whisk the eggs and sugar until just incorporated.
Add the vanilla, lemon zest and salt and mix in.
Fold in the flour and pistachio.
Pour the butter in while mixing, again, only beating until just blended.
Cover batter and refrigerate for an hour.
Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Brush melted butter into the madeleine pan and dust with flour.
Fill each mold about 3/4 of the way.
Bake the cakes until they’re domed and golden brown along the edges, 10-15 minutes.