The Search For Vegan Madeleines

Madeleines and Tea and Knitting

The short version of this post: I don’t have a perfect vegan madeleine recipe, yet. But if you want to experiment for yourself, these notes might be helpful. For those of you who are interested, here’s the long version:

In my last post I talked about petits fours, specifically petits fours glacés–meaning iced. I mentioned how the term petit four can refer to many kinds of small sweets. As soon as my blood sugar returned to normal human levels, I began working on petits fours secs, specifically madeleines.

Even if you’ve forgotten the French you learned in highschool (goodness knows I have), you’re probably already familar with the word sec, as in triple sec. The world sec is often used to describe a lack of sweetness in an alcoholic beverage, but in the case of triple sec it means that the alcohol has been distilled three times, i.e. triple dry. What does this have to do with petits fours? Nothing, really. Just remember that sec means “dry.”

#3 MadeleinesA common petit four sec is a madeleine – a lemony shell-shaped confection that hovers somewhere between cookies, cakes, and shortbreads. There is much discussion about what the original madeleines, the ones eaten and written about by Proust, were really like. Softy and crumby? Dry and sconelike? It seems that most people seem to prize the following characteristics of madeleines, so these are my goals for my final version:

1. Crispy and browned around the edges
2. Softish in the middle
3. Well defined, smooth shell ridges on one side
4. A nice “hump” on the other side
5. Slightly sweet and lemony, with buttery undertones

All recipes I’ve found seem to call for the liberal use of eggs, which are beaten with sugar to the “ribbon stage” before completing the batter. Obviously eggs are out of the question, so I’m experimenting with egg replacers and chemical leavening, but we’ll get into that in a minute.

The first thing I do when trying to create a vegan recipe is study as many non-vegan recipes on the web as I can. After getting a feel for the standard recipes in use, I usually pick the recipe that seems to be the easiest to veganize and substitute non-vegan ingredients with the vegan versions. Then I take stock of the results and change what needs to be changed, if anything.

For the madeleines, I decided to veganize a recipe I found on It only called for two eggs (as opposed the three or four that some other recipes used), and it only made 12 – I wouldn’t be stuck with three dozen if they didn’t turn out.

Madeleines – Trial One (Unphotographed)

1 1/4 cup flour (I used Pastry Flour)
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs Ener-G Eggs
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tbs lemon or orange juice
6 tbs butter Earth Balance Margarine, melted
Grated rind of lemon or orange

Melt margarine and let cool. Mix dry ingredients together. Beat ener-g eggs and sugar together until frothy. Add juice and zest to the ener-g mixture. Alternately beat in dry ingredients and melted earth balance until all combined. Grease and flour a madeleine pan and fill each shell 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 375º until crisp and brown around the edges (15-20 minutes).

#1 Results: Too scone-like, a little ugly, tastes okay
1. They were crispy and browned
2. They were a little dry in the middle, but not bad
3. The ridges were undefined because of poor pan flouring (see photo)
4. No hump
5. Correct sweetness and buttery undertones (for my taste)

Too Much Oil

If you put to much oil on your pan, the flour sticks too well and actually fills in the ridges a little, making for lame looking madeleines. This is how the pan will look after it’s been properly floured. Use a cooking spray to oil your pan, and hold the pan a good two feet away from the nozzle. You want an even, light coating of oil which will ensure an even, light coating of flour. Like so:

Properly Dusted Pan

Madeleines – Trial Two

I wanted to see if I could increase the moisture content, so I tried out a modified version of a lemon muffin recipe of mine. I increased the heat to 400º help brown the edges and create a peaked hump.

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 Tbs Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 Pinch Salt
1/2 Cup Soy Milk
1 Tbs Lemon Juice and Zest from the lemon
3 Tbs Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Try #2, Batter too thick

Whisk dry ingredients together. Whisk soy milk, juice, zest, oil and extract together until thickened. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Bake in an oiled and floured madeleine pan for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool on a rack shell-side up.

#2 Results: Total disaster
1. They didn’t brown
2. Too soft in the middle
3. No ridges, batter way too thick and bubbly
4. No hump
5. Not sweet enough

These were a disaster. It seemed I was better off with the first recipe. The batter was way too thick, creating a lot of textural and aesthetic problems. I decided to thin out the batter used above by adding 1/4 cup of water just to see what would happen:

Madeleines – Trial Three

Same recipes as #2 but with 1/4 cup added water.

Try #3, better

#2 vs. #3 - The Choice is Clear

You can see trial #2 madeleines on the left, and #3 on the right. I wanted to show you how a simple thing like batter consistency can have a HUGE effect of the final result. The third batch certainly looked better, by about a hundred billion times. But how did they stack up?

#3 Results: Pretty, but that’s about it.
1. Beautifully browned
2. Texture all wrong, too much like cupcakes
3. Beautiful Ridges
4. Humps!
5. Not sweet enough


So after all that, I’m still searching for the perfect madeleines. It wasn’t until after my third try that I realized I might have had the answer all along in my petits fours glacés – the cake had these beautifully crispy and caramelized edges. If I can combine those edges with a less cake-like texture I’ll be in business. I’ll let you know the final recipe, if I ever find it…..

Madeleines and Tea and Knitting


  1. miss mess

    i’m still pretty new at vegan bakinig, but might i suggest returning to your original recipe (the recipe #1 above), and instead of using Ener-G egg replacers, use VWAV’s suggestion of soy yogurt? it sounds as if that first recipe was just not moist enough.

    i would recommend replacing one egg w/ soy yogurt (i believe it’s 1/4 C) and the other egg with a small banana. you may want to use lemon flavored yogurt to increase lemony-ness so it’s not too banana-y.

    can’t wait to see your final results!

  2. vegetation

    Wow! Just wow! I LOVE how much patience you have. For me, if it’s a disaster I’m throwing pans around the kitchen and feeling way too frustrated to even think about giving it another try for say…oh a year or 2.

    I’m of no use as far as help goes but I’ve no doubt you’ll crack it in the end.

  3. naida

    I love Madeleines! They were one of the things that attracted me to my school.
    One trick to getting that “hump”, is to rest the batter overnight. See if that helos with the consistency of the batter as well.

  4. JP

    Have you tried using pastry flour instead of all-purpose for the #2/3 recipe? The finer grind may help eliminate some of the muffin texture from the finished goods.

  5. Krista Jo

    Do you taste the non-vegan madeleines to compare with your efforts? Or are you just going by the remembrance of madeleines past?

  6. madd props

    I think the soy yogurt suggestion sounds good. As far as eliminating the cupcake-ness, I’d try adding some cornstarch or arrowroot. I find that cornstarch is the secret for adapting any pancake recipe into a waffle recipe. It increases the crispiness on the outside and helps hold in some of the moisture.

  7. Dayna

    Madeleine’s are my favourite. Really, I love them so much I named my first born after them. It is also the one cookie I’ve been trying to adapt… I’m not a huge fan of egg replacers and although your first recipe has the acid from the lemon juice, have you thought of trying a pinch of soda and maybe half a banana or even silken tofu for moisture?

    Your third version does look lovely. I hope you keep us posted on how the rest of your trials turn out.

  8. fughawzi

    Ooh, this is exciting. Better than Tv!

    Did you ever get Peter Reinhart’s books? I get to go to a class of his (Yay!) and he seems interesting in trying new stuff, so I thought I’d tell him about your blog or something.

    Hope you’re doing well, Lolo!

  9. Rachel

    God, what an artist! It’s so helpful to see the testing process. I can’t wait to see the final version.

    I’d love it if you checked out my blog–I’ve been making some of your recipes.

  10. karrie

    Ah, now I might actually use the Madeleine pan a friend gave me a few years ago.

    And on a bit of a tangent, but have you ever made a vegan key lime pie? Or lime or lemon bars?

  11. Anitra

    I had wonderful luck veganizing a madeleine recipe in Martha’s Stewart’s Baking Handbook. Here’s what’s in it:

    1/2 C margarine
    1/4 C all-purpose flour
    Scant 1/2 C almond flour
    1/2 C plus 2 T sugar
    2T finely grated lemon zest
    1/4 t pure lemon extract
    3 Ener-G eggs
    1/2 t salt

    These baked up beautifully, slightly crisp outside, nice ridges, soft center. I’m not vegan myself (partner is), so I’ve tasted non-vegan madeleines; I can honestly say these are virtually identical. In the same cookbook she also gives a chocolate variation, which also did just fine vegan.

    Anyways, thanks for the site! I nearly fainted from happiness when I saw your petit four recipe!

  12. Shannon

    Just wanted to say, your pictures are gorgeous (nice lighting!)…and the knitting is a cool touch, too! Your blog inspires even non-vegans (like me) to try out all these recipes!

  13. Emily

    These look yummy (as everything on your blog always does!) .. I was distracted by the knitting in your pictures though! What are you creating?!

  14. asmith80

    oh this is great! i’ve had my eye on getting a madeleine pan for a while but business and monies and such have occurred… when you perfect it i shall buy one and make them! and they had these ones at a cafe in florida i went too and they were kinda spongy… they had packaged them in plastic and they bounced back when you pressed them but seemed incredibly moist also… they were filled with animal products of course! siiigh so i didn’t try them… but if that helps any…

  15. Diane

    Oh my! What a beautiful website! I must link to it right now. I just found you because I made homemade granola for the first time yesterday, and I was poking around the internet this morning to see what other people did. I’ll be baaaaaack…

  16. Kecily

    I have been reading your blog for months now and I enjoy so much your step by step recipes.

    Congrats for the very well done job ^_^

    I happen to be French (sorry -_^) and Madeleines are part of my culture somehow. They are claimed to come from the little town of Commercy in the north east of France.

    If you’re interested, here is the orginal official recipe by a French “patissier” :

    It is not easy to veganize because of the huge amount of butter and eggs but I think it just shows the madeleines need a lot of fat to be at the same time crunchy, soft and moist.

    Ingredients :
    150 g de beurre – 200 g de farine – 200 g de sucre – 1 cac de levure chimique – 6 oeufs extra frais – zestes de citrons hachés – 5 plaques à madeleines

    Hope this can help.


  17. Heather

    What a beautiful blog. Thank you so much for this Proustian rumination on madeleines. He would be proud. I often find that Earth Balance doesn’t have enough fat to make my baked goods (like pie crust and cupcakes) moist the way I want them. I like the suggestion of soy yogurt. This might give the texture you are looking for. And then of course there are other egg substitutes like ground flax seeds.

    Good luck,

  18. Gaia

    It’s funny you should talk about Madeleines because I just found a vegan recipe for them on a French vegan message board.

    I can’t wait to try them but I don’t have a madeleine mold! I need to find one soon!

  19. Alison Nicole

    Love, love, love your site. You are such an inspiration to me! I don’t think mine will ever look at good as yours, but at least I have someone to look up to, and a fabulous site to look at every week! Thanks so much!

  20. Pingback: Montréal, March Break, Maple Syrup & Madeleines. « VEGAN VISITOR
  21. Stephanie

    You’re photos and blog, in general, are so beneficial to my cooking and sanity. I appreciate your dedication and sharing with us all the trial and error part to cooking. Isn’t that just how it is? We all have favorite tastes and our ethical standards! Thank you!

  22. Rosalina

    I’m going to culinary school right now (your blog inspired me…) and I have a Madeline recipe in my new text book. I thaught you could probobly adapt it. I plan on trying it.
    So If you ant the recipe I wouldbe glad to give it to you. =)

  23. Pingback: food+photography » Blog Archive » Montréal, March Break, Maple Syrup & Madeleines.
  24. Kalyani

    T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U for this: I am on the hunt to veganize most of my rich recipes as I LOVE to cook and have had to seriously modifiy my cooking style since becoming vegetarian.

    I really appreciate your efforts! I made Madeleines years ago pre veg and they were delicious. Now making them for Xmas and I think I’m gonna have to go standard this time based on your results – thanks for trying!!

    Good luck

  25. Nicole

    Hey! I’m on the search for a dairy-free madeleine as well. A quick search led to your blog. I DO have one recipe from the Wheeler del Torro’s “The Vegan Scoop” (AMAZING vegan ice cream ) has a vegan madeleine recipe, I haven’t had the time (or kitchen) to use it yet… but if you’re willing to taste and alter, send me an email and I’ll type up the recipe! I’d paste it here, but I’d rather coerce them into buying his book. ;) Best of luck with madeleines!

  26. Jessica

    Hi! I found this searching the web for vegan madeleines. I veganized a recipe from my mother in law and I used only sugar, flour, lemon zest, and Ener-G. I thought they were really good!

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