Le Cordon Bleu London – Gateau au Citron & Madeleines

Thursday’s practical was surprisingly relaxing and not too hard compared to some of the practicals we’ve previously had. Chef’s demo started off with a Gateau au Citron (Lemon pound cake), Madeleines, then the Gênes à la Pistache (traditional almond and pistachio cake). I was a bit disappointed to find out that the gateau au citron was actually a pound cake! Not very french…

pistachio cake madeleines Chef’s creations sliced up for us to try 🙂 The madeleines were soft and buttery, fresh out of the oven. The texture of the pistachio almond cake was very light and fluffy. However, the cake had more of an almond flavour and barely any pistachio flavour which was disappointing since I love everything pistachio flavoured!  gateau au citron cut Above: chef’s gateau au citron sliced up.

During the demo we learnt that there are three ways that cakes can rise:
Mechanically – manually whipping and incorporating air, for example airating egg whites.
Biologically – using yeast
Chemically – rising agents such as baking powder.

Gateau au Citron gateau au citron le cordon bleu

The Gateau au Citron uses a chemical method (baking power), as well as steam released from the water in the butter and eggs to allow the cake to rise. Gateau au citron, aka pound cake actually originated in the UK and weighed a pound…according to chef.

The Gateau au Citron is composed of 3 parts: The cake itself, the lemon julienne garnish and the glaçage.

Everything was pretty straightforward and everything went well. Except for one thing… My excess parchment paper stuck onto the top of cake while baking!! Apparently, this happened to a lot of the students during the practical. So don’t forget to trim the top of the parchment down so it’s not too tall because once it goes in the convection oven, the paper will flap around and stick onto the cake batter. This caused a slight indentation on the surface of the cake. You can see where the paper got stuck on the right side of the cake 🙁 gateau au citron

Some tips for the practical

The gateau:

  1. Add the egg a spoonful at a time and ensure that it is fully incorporated before adding more. Adding too much at once could cause the egg and sugar to split. (IF it does split, add a tablespoon of flour).
  2. Remember to gently fold in the flour and milk. Over mixing will cause the cake to be tough, because of the gluten from the flour.
  3. Don’t forget to ‘drop’ the cake tin on the bench a couple of times to release any trapped air bubbles and to ensure that the batter fills in all the corners.

The Lemon julienne:

  1. It’s easy to over poach or under poach your lemon julienne so make sure it’s al dente by eating one!
  2. Don’t let your water evaporate too much otherwise you could get sugar crystals on your julienne.
  3. Once it’s done don’t let it sit in too the sugar syrup for too long, otherwise it may become overcooked. Strain, and separate on a piece of parchment paper.
  4. I know it’s obvious but make sure (or try) to cut the lemon julienne to all the same size since the chef looks for regularity in everything.

The Glaçage:

  1. If you want thicker icing on your cake (think of lemon drizzle cake), add more icing sugar. This will create that while opaque look. If you just want a regular glaze, brush twice with the regular glaçage recipe.
  2. Remember to brush twice. The first coating of icing will absorb into your gateau. The second coating will keep the gateau moist and lemony!


  1. If you want to create a pattern on your gateau au citron when dusting powdered sugar, use your knife, parchment paper, or any shape and place it on top of the cake and dust over it! I placed my pastry knife in the middle of the cake to create a stripe pattern.

Madeleines madeleine mould

I absolutely love madeleines! They are so delicious fresh out of the oven, and oh so buttery and spongey! I love how they’re bite-sized. Somehow, eating 5 little madeleines makes you feel a lot better than eating a huge slice of cake!

During our practical, we added lemon zest. I can’t wait to experiment at home and try orange zest, matcha, black sesame and perhaps earl grey?! I tried making madeleines at home before but they were nowhere near as fluffy and buttery as the ones we made today. They were relatively straight forward to make, just make sure you don’t butter your moulds too much like I did!! This caused some of the madeleines to curl up slightly and brown on the edges (nice and crispy! but not so pretty. They look like boats). baking madeleines

Check out those humps yo! You can see my madeleines on the third rack – three of them look like boats!!

Tips for the Madeleines:

  1. Make sure you brush melted butter on the moulds twice, placing in the fridge after each coating. Don’t go crazy on the butter like I did!
  2. Make sure the melted butter you add to your batter is room temperature and not hot. Unless you want scrambled eggs.
  3. Use a balloon whisk to cream your egg, honey and sugars. It’s 10 x faster!
  4. Chill your batter before putting into a piping bag. Chill again once it’s piped in the moulds. This is important if you want to achieve that characteristic hump that a madeleine has.
  5. Don’t release your madeleines straight onto the cooling rack as soon as it comes out of the oven. The madeleines will still be soft and the lines from the cooling rack will press/mould into it as it cools. Let it sit in the pan for 2 minutes before releasing.
  6. As with the gateau au citron, if you want to create a design when dusting with icing sugar, use a small pairing knife or any object and place it on the madeleine and dust over. le cordon bleu london kitchen

Next up: Génoise à la Confiture de Framboises (one of our exam dishes!!)