Madeleines are small shell-shaped sponge cakes from Northern France and were made famous in Marcel Proust’s book Remembrance of Things Past. They are different to English Madeleines, which are small sponge cakes cooked in dariole moulds, coated in raspberry jam and rolled in desiccated coconut. The French variety are quick to make and it is worth investing in the shell-shaped moulds, as they make the finished little cakes look pretty and they are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea.The recipe is made by whisking eggs and sugar together until very light before adding flour, melted butter and vanilla. The texture is light and buttery and they are best eaten fresh, although they will keep for a couple of days. You can vary the recipe by adding chocolate or using lemon or orange zest instead of vanilla or adding ground almonds or hazelnuts to the mixture with the flour. Some recipes use plain flour plus baking powder, but I find self-raising flour gives a more consistent result.This is the basic recipe for Madeleines:Makes 48IngredientsMelted butter and flour to line the tinsCaster sugar 250gEggs 9Vanilla extract 12.5gSelf raising flour, well sifted 250gButter, melted but not hot 250gMethod1. Brush the moulds with melted butter and dust with flour.2. Whisk the sugar and eggs until very light and the mixture holds a trail. This can take about 5-7 minutes. Add thevanilla extract.3. Sift the flour over the surface and pour the melted butter down the side. Carefully and quickly fold in. Try not to knock out any air.4. Pour into the moulds and bake for 10 minutes at 180C.Variationsl Add 5% grated lemon zest or 5% grated orange zest instead of vanilla essencel Add 20% good quality cocoa powder with the flour or 20% melted dark chocolate with the butterl Add 50% ground almonds or hazelnuts with the flourl Add 1 frozen raspberry to each mould and pour the mixture on top, The madeleines will take a few more minutes in the oven.