A sweet childhood
The British and Americans have their muffins, the French their "madeleines", but Spanish kids would not be Spanish kids without our "magdalenas". At least not true kids, the ones from the 80's who watched real cartoons at 7.30 am on a Sunday, brought to us by Japanese masterminds who were capable of capturing our attention for hours on end. Kids who didn't have a phone by the age of ten and who were starting to discover what a game boy was.
Elena was one of those kids who absolutely loved "magdalenas". She dunked them in the little coffee they allowed her to drink, dissected them in two, stuffed them with chocolate spread (as if they were not sweet enough) and ate them by the bagful. There was a brand we liked more than any of the others: "La Bella Easo". Their magdalenas had a beautiful dome and a very characteristic taste that was like that of no other cake. It had a certain industrial taste that artisanal "magdalenas" did not have and we loved them for it.
Even the artisanal ones which lacked the industrial taste we loved so much had something special. They didn't taste like any other cake - it is difficult to explain because it is not a question of being more lemony, more buttery or sweeter. It's something different. Like "sobaos" which are another Spanish specialty cakes which taste of themselves and of nothing else.
Our mum, in an attempt to make us happy tried to replicate the taste of "magdalenas", but was always unable to do so. her little cakes came out more like not very tasty muffins rather than what we were hoping for and in the end we all gave up and stuck to the supermarket brand or, every once in a while, after a trip to a Spanish village, to the artisanal kind, with the bigger size, the more authentic taste and the sugar covered dome.
A couple of years ago, I started to hear that there was a recipe going around the internet for authentic "magdalenas". Somebody had cracked the puzzle for getting that precise taste, that dome and that sugary crust. I tried them and made Elena happy. If she was ever to remember a recipe in her life, it was that one: Xavier Barriga's magdalenas, so the other day, when she had to bake something to take to a friend's house she remembered that famous recipe and decided to make them herself.
When Elena decides to make a recipe by herself that means that she will get all the credit for the amazing results she will get, but she will need, require and demand an assistant through the whole process. The job of the assistant is quite varied. It goes from fetching ingredients, reading out the recipe to her, giving advice as to how she is beating the eggs, reassurance that she is doing everything correctly, clearing up after she is done with tools and ingredients and praising her along the way.
I am happy to be her assistant every once in a while but I also have to admit to not being the most patient person in the world, so these cooking experiences must be quite funny to watch: she takes 5 minutes to crack three eggs, asks me if she is doing it correctly while asking me to fetch something for her and me..let's just say I'll be urgently telling her to get on with it, huffing and puffing along the whole process, but enjoying it too. She says I put too much pressure on her and I say she requires too much attention!
If something goes wrong - no paper cases for the magdalenas which get just a bit stuck to the tin after baking - it is usually the assistant's fault for not providing enough advice and even the amount of sugar to put on top of each cake is talked about for at least 5 minutes, but if by any chance, the results are successful, it is always Elena who has mastered the recipe all on her own. Want to be Elena for a day? make these "magdalenas" and look for a patient assistant.
It is very important to follow the steps here, especially the part about letting the batter rest in the fridge if you want those beautiful domes to appear. Using a muffin tin instead of just the papers is also advisable so that the cakes don't spread our too much in the oven.
• 4 eggs
• 265gr sugar
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 90ml milk
• 285ml vegetable oil (we used sunflower)
• 315gr flour (preferably cake flour)
• 8gr baking powder
• the zest of an orange
• a pinch of salt
1. In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar until they are fluffy.
2. Add the milk, keep whisking and follow it with the oil, the honey and the orange zest.
3. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Sieve it onto the previous mixture, mixing it until you get an even mixture.
4. Beat the mixture at high speed during 3 minutes. Cover the batter and keep in the fridge for at least an hour. Don't skip this step: it will help form the dome on your magdalenas, which is key!
5. Preheat the oven to 250ªC and get a muffin tin ready by putting a paper mould in each hole.
6. Fill each muffin paper 3/4 of the way to allow the batter to rise in the oven. Sprinkle some sugar over the top and bake for about 15 mins, until they are golden.
7. Store them in an airtight container.
Recipe from Uno de dos, who adapted it from Xavier Barriga's recipe