These little sponge cakes, immortalized by Marcel Proust in Remembrance of Things Past, are at their most memorable when eaten as Proust himself liked them, fresh from the oven, still warm and a little crisp on the outside. As madeleines tend to dry out quickly, home-baked ones are best. Madeleine pans were among the first baking pans that Chuck Williams brought to America in the late 1950s, and they were the most popular items for a year or two in the Williams Sonoma store. If you use a black nonstick madeleine pan, decrease the oven temperature by 25deg.F or shorten the baking time by a few minutes. You can find orange flower water imported from France in specialty-food shops.
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