An accidental beginning
As for many creations, the origin of the small biscuit “Madeleine” is attributed to several stories but the most likely and most commonly accepted is the story of Madeleine Paulmier.
In 1755, Madeleine Paulmier was a servant of the Marquise Perrotin de Baumont in Commercy (East of France).
While the Duke Stanislas Leszczynki held a reception in his castle, she witnessed a quarrel in the kitchen between the steward and the cook. The dessert originally planned could not be served and she offered to make a dessert from a recipe of his grandmother.
The guests appreciated the result so much that the duke asked to thank in person the baker who saved the evening and decided to baptize these little cakes of the sweet name of Madeleine.
A contagious success
The Duke sent a parcel of these cupcakes to his daughter Marie, wife of Louis XV, in Versailles. This sweet novelty became popular in Versailles and very quickly everywhere in France. The simplicity of the ingredients, the fineness of the biscuit as well as the original shell shape, were immediately adopted.
In the 19th century, the Madeleine became the specialty of the city of Commercy and artisanal fabrications multiplied. The Madeleines are sold by the dozen on the platforms of the Commercy train station.
Their notoriety gained ground again when the writer Marcel Proust recounts this striking anecdote about the memory evoked by the authentic taste of a madeleine soaked in his tea (in « A la recherche du temps perdu » 1913).
A universal success
Even today, in France, the Madeleine is one of the most popular cakes. At all ages, they are most often tasted in the afternoon at tea time.