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Along with 13 items of vintage French pottery, a wicker basket and two fish-plates, our recent visits to the flea-markets of Paris also resulted in a set of four cast-iron saucepans which Allison convinced me would be able to fit in our kitchen. Due to all of the wine we'd also bought, fitting them into our luggage was more of an issue but Allison managed to get them into her handbag for the Eurostar journey back home! 

Allison had also visited a shop called E. Dehillerin, a famous cookware-store in the 1st arrondissement. From there she had purchased a madeleine pan, which is one of those kitchen implements that only has one purpose - the making of madeleines. 

Madeleines are those small sponge-cakes with the distinctive shell-like shapes which come from their being baked in (what else?) madeleine pans. Now that we had one of those, we couldn't not have a go at making them, could we?

Our recipe was sourced from a book called My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz, an American food-writer who is based in Paris. Allison is a fan although I am not so keen, having been not much taken with a previous book of his, The Sweet Life in Paris (to be precise, he lost me when he mentioned using his bathtub for doing the washing-up; as this is mentioned early on in the book, I feel that I may not have given him a fair hearing).

But this wasn't washing-up; this was the baking of a batch of small sponge-cakes which consist of eight ingredients. How hard could it be?

First up, the eggs had to be at room temperature before they could be mixed in with the sugar; Lebovitz said to do this in a mixer on high speed for up to five minutes, and then stir in the flour, salt, baking powder and vanilla (he said to use vanilla bean paste rather than extract, but he does helpfully give a quantity for vanilla extract as he evidently realises that this is what most of his readers will have; nice touch). Once this is mixed in, the batter is covered and left to stand for an hour.

In the meantime, the butter is melted and mixed in with the honey - and what better saucepan to use than one of the set from the flea-market? 

This then needs to cool down to room temperature (this recipe is, it seems, a very room temperature recipe) before being mixed in with the batter, which is then covered and left to stand for an hour.

Baking: It really is all about hurrying up and waiting.

Then came the madeleine pan. We'd bought a non-stick one and it so happens that Lebovitz recommends these, although they do still need to be greased. In My Paris Kitchen, he states that he used to use softened butter to do this, having been advised to do so by "several prominent pastry chefs" before giving melted butter a go and finding that it worked better; melted butter is, therefore, what he says to use for this in his recipe. 

The batter was then scooped into the pan (Lebovitz also goes into detail about what to use to do the scooping; I just used a couple of regular spoons) and baked for ten minutes.

They came out perfectly, more or less...

Lebovitz states that: "Madeleines are best enjoyed warm, or the same day that they're made." They most certainly were, and I have a feeling that more may be made in the future. After all, we have the pan.

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