This years' book of the winter, 'The Land Where Lemons Grow', is the perfect escape for anyone else enchanted by winter citrus. Aside from glimmering fantasies of Tuscan orange groves and giant, monstrous citron, I have learnt that there are lemons, and lemons. The tiny, green fleshed variety are a world away from the succulent, juicy kind grown on the coast of Amalfi.
Interesting as this is, I rarely have the time or inclination to spend my evenings hunting for a certain kind of lemon. These little madeleines, rich with butter and best eaten warm out of the oven, can be made with any citrus you have to hand - although always buy unwaxed if you can. Thyme, which is becoming increasingly popular in sweet recipes, is rich and earthy - the perfect match for fragrant citrus.
100g caster sugar
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
100g icing sugar
THE RECIPEMelt a little butter, then brush a clean madeleine tin with it. Dust with flour, shake away any excess then put the tin in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 200C.
Melt 100g butter, then set aside to cool a little. Separately, whisk your eggs and sugar together for 3-4 minutes, until pale, fluffy and thick. When you drag the whisk across the surface, ribbons should form. Add the cooled butter, the zest of the lemon and half of the thyme, and fold to mix. Sieve in the flour and baking powder, folding once more to combine. Leave the batter to stand for 20 minutes.
Spoon 2 tsp of mixture into the frozen moulds, ensuring they are no more than half-full. Bake for 9-11 minutes - the madeleines need to rise a little in the middle, and be golden around the edges. Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack to cool.
For the glaze, mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice to form a thin icing. Dip the cooled madeleines into the icing, then sprinkle with a little fresh thyme. Madeleines are best eaten on the day they are baked.