Friday, December 08, 2006

A Bonus Harvest

I have lost count of the number of public holidays in Buenos Aires province or in this country – the two are not always the same. However, today is a national public holiday celebrating Ascension de La Virgen (Ascension of Virgin Mary).

Despite being baptised as Roman Catholic at 3 months and a convent educated girl since kindergarten, I had only a vague idea of this day and it was only yesterday I realised it is a public holiday in Argentina.

I breathed a sigh of relief because this feriado (public holiday) leaves me "bonus" time to organise our upcoming trip home to Sydney, the Sunday lunch we are hosting for La Familia with all their different dietary needs and desires and the cooking classes I am teaching next week.

In my attempt to organise and deplete stock in my pantry and freezer, I have left myself a little short on nibbles for morning coffee and afternoon tea. One cake fest after another in the past weeks with knowledge that only more such occasions are coming before the month is out...I had been exercising some restraint.

That was until I remember my still "virgin" purchase from Doña Clara – some old fashioned individual madeleine moulds. I bought them instead of the much-easier-on-life silicon tray because the shape of the resulting baby cakes is different from the common, run of the mill, ones we see everywhere. These simple and cheap moulds flare out at the end, like stems of wheat being gathered at the waist. The idea alone hooked and wheeled me in.

There are a large number of yummy recipes and gorgeous photos on the subject of Proust's favourite accompaniment to tea*. Some use ground almond to add crumbly moistness, others stick to the convenience of butter and flour. I've laid out some butter and eggs so they reach room temperature by the time I finish this post; and the recipe? I think I would have to turn to a talented French blogger who not only weaves magic in the kitchen but behind the lens.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Bea's matcha madeleines.

*The quote, in very fine print, below the cartoon reads "Ah, Monsieur Proust we would like to discuss product placement for one of our cakes." ;-)

Post mortem: I baked my first batch according to the temperature stated with passable results. I then turned the oven up to an intuitive 180C which yielded better looking and tasting madeleines. Alternatively, try suggestion in Bea's comment section - 230C for 5-8 min. then 180C for 5.

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