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Though madeleines are only small sponge cakes shaped like shells, they somehow always have an air of sophistication and there are a number of reasons for that! The first and foremost reason is the shape, which is delicately molded and detailed to look like a soft ivory fan. Another reason is that when made well, madeleines are incredibly light in texture, almost melting on the tongue.
The other reasons have to do with their history. They originated in the Lorraine region of France in the chateau kitchens of the father-in-law of Louis XV of France, and their name is the same as an elderly cook in that kitchen: Madeleine Paulmier. Though basically a form of sponge cake, they’ve become famous in literary circles as the most well-known food to have inspired an author to write a masterpiece of a book, Marcel Proust’s “Remembrances of Things Past.” Proust writes that it is “a little shell of a cake, so generously sensual beneath the piety of its stern pleating.”
Apart from all that, madeleines are not overly sweet, they’re easy to make and you can have them at any time of the day: breakfast, snack time, or dessert. If you use the best ingredients and have a good pan, you’re all set to develop a madeleine habit! And that’s actually a good thing.
Here are the best madeleine pans for baking these delicate cookies.
Best Heavy-Duty Gold-Toned: Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Pro Madeleine Pan
This truly gorgeous gold pan makes baking feel like a luxury! With molds for 16 madeleines, the Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Pro pan is made of commercial-grade aluminized steel that’s heavy enough to withstand a lot of use. The durable nonstick coating is scratch-resistant and the entire Goldtouch Pro line is better at releasing food than before. This 15.75 x 11.25-inch pan is safe for the dishwasher, though handwashing is recommended to maintain the beautiful gold surface.
Best Nonstick Coated Steel: Wilton Advance Select Premium Nonstick 12-Cavity Madeleine Pan
Wilton's sleek steel madeleine pan works well in kitchens with limited counter or storage space. With a dozen wells for madeleine cookies, this pan is guaranteed to handle temperatures up to 500 degrees without warping. The surface is made with a silicone-infused DuraLast coating, which is nonstick, scratch-resistant, and can be used with metal cooking utensils. Oversized handles provide a better grip on the 17.75 x 8.39-inch pan. It's also dishwasher safe and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Best Silpat: Sur La Table Silpat Madeleine Mold
This silicone madeleine mold might be one of the best uses of the Silpat material yet! Silpats are made of a nonstick, fiberglass material that's flexible and lightweight. Easy to store and clean, this 12-well mold does not require any greasing at all and releases pastries easily. This mold should be supported by a metal pan during baking and can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees.
Made in France, this 15.75 x 11.6-inch mold is dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe, and comes with a lifetime warranty. You do have to take care to not use knives, scrapers, or cutters on the mold.
Best Black Metal Nonstick: Chicago Metallic Madeleine Non-Stick Rectangle Pan
Chicago Metallic puts as much care into the manufacture of its pans for home baking as it does for its commercial bakeware lines. This sturdy, well-designed madeleine pan with a total of 12 molds is a workhorse.
Measuring 15.75 x 7.75 inches and weighing a little under a pound, the pan comes with a silicone-based nonstick surface. The durable carbon steel allows for superior heat conduction and even baking, and it's oven safe to 450 degrees. While it’s dishwasher safe, Chicago Metallic recommends handwashing.
Best Silicone Molds: de Buyer Silicone Baking Molds
If you’re experimenting with baking madeleines as well as other small pastries, de Buyer's silicone molds are perfect for inspiration! Handmade in Vosges, France, the molds are made of a high-tech material: aluminum powder blended in silicone. This means the madeleine pan is exceptional at heat conduction and can withstand temperatures from minus 94 to 572 degrees.
The madeleine pan has 20 wells and measures 12 x 7 inches. The high-tech molds translate to razor-sharp details in your final cookies. There's also a muffin and a canelé pan to complete the set, and all are dishwasher safe.
Best for Bulk Baking: Gobel Madeleine Pan 20 Cavities
With a total of 20 wells, this 15 x 5-inch pan is for those times you want to bake a lot of madeleines! The manufacturer, Gobel, has a long history of making classic French bakeware since its beginnings in 1887, and it continues to keep its standards up to the level professional pastry chefs appreciate.
Made of heavy-gauge tinned steel, this pan does not have a nonstick coating, which some believe makes the final product more authentic when baked. It can only handle temperatures up to 425 degrees and should be washed by hand and thoroughly dried before storage. This is a serious tool for committed bakers.
If you’d like to have a no-muss, no-fuss madeleine baking experience every time you make them, the Sur La Table Silpat Madeleine Mold at Sur La Table (view at Sur La Table) is the best choice on the market. For a basic, yet sturdy and reliable madeleine pan, the Chicago Metallic Madeleine Non-Stick Rectangle Pan (view at Amazon) has everything you’ll need. And if you’re looking to expand into making some little cat’s claws and shells along with your regular madeleines, the Beasea Three Pack Nonstick Madeleine Pans (view at Amazon) is really different and fun to have on hand. These shapes will delight children and grownups of all ages!
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Karen Resta is a writer specializing in food culture and history, cooking, pastries, and restaurants. She's also a former pastry chef and has traveled to Budapest, Kyiv, and Paris during their Fashion Weeks as a photographer and writer, always finding the best authentic pastries along the way. She now spends a lot of her free time baking at home and recommends quality within your given budget. Having the right tools available and knowing how to use them well (it can take practice, like anything else) makes all the difference, and she curated this list with that in mind.