Magdalenas are Spanish lemon and olive oil muffins that you'll find in bakeries across the country. They're easy to make at home, too, with only a few common ingredients. They have a lovely delicate flavor, and are perfect still warm out the oven with coffee.
This post may contain affiliate links, where we earn from qualifying purchases. See more details in the policy page.
When I lived in Madrid it was my second time living in Spain so some things were easier to settle into. I already knew many Spanish dishes and some of the customs that were different for me (like a heartier lunch and lighter, late dinner). But I still learnt more all the time I was there.
One of the things I particularly got into enjoying while in Madrid was magdalenas. There was a small bakery near my apartment and if I saw them freshly baked in the window, it was hard to resist.
Are Spanish magdalenas the same as French madeleines?
Some people say magdalenas are simply the Spanish version of madeleines in muffin-shaped form, and they certainly have some similarities in the ingredients. The name, though, simply translates as "muffin" or "cupcake", much as it sounds similar.
They also have a couple key differences, and I don't just mean the shape. First, they are usually made with olive oil rather than butter, and secondly, they are more leavened. The combination of a relatively high proportion of eggs and raising agent gives these little bites a wonderful lift.
Making these easy Spanish muffins
As I mentioned, these muffins are incredibly simple and need only a few household ingredients. They also follow a relatively common method of mixing the dry ingredients then separately blending the eggs and sugar. You then combine the two along with the lemon zest and olive oil.
After that, though, is where these differ from most other muffins as you then let the mixture rest in the fridge for a little while before baking. This is more similar to the technique for madeleines but it is for a reason.
That rest time helps allows the gluten to relax and also the chilling gives a greater temperature difference when the mixture bakes. This all leads to one thing: more rise. OK two, as it also helps them be really tender.
After the mixture has chilled, scoop the mixture into your tin prepared with muffin liners (either paper or, as I have here, silicone). Don't mix the batter before spooning, as you don't want to knock out any air in there.
Only fill your muffin liners about ¾ of the way as you want to allow some space for these to rise. As I mention and as you can see in the photos, you get a beautiful bump in the middle when these bake.
You don't have to, but I highly recommend you add an extra little sprinkling of sugar on top of the batter before baking. This gives them a lovely little crisp crust on the outside.
These Spanish muffins are particularly good enjoyed warm out of the oven. They will keep a day or two, stored at room temperature in an airtight container, but like most muffins and cupcakes they are definitely best fresh.
Magdalenas are such a wonderfully tasty treat that's easy to make as well. They are as light and delicately lemon-flavored as they are delightfully humped in the middle. I find them the perfect mid-morning snack with a cup of coffee, but as my kids and friends can attest, they are just as good on their own whenever. I hope you'll enjoy them soon, too.
Try these other tasty baked goods from around the world:
- French pear cake (also wonderfully light and easy!)
- Australian Lemon slice (a no-bake lemon-coconut cookie bar)
- Persian love cake cupcakes (with a lovely hint of saffron and cardamom)
- Plus get more snack recipes and Spanish recipes in the archives.
Magdalenas - Spanish muffins
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 ⅓ cup all purpose flour plain flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoon milk
- 1 lemon zest ie zest from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon sugar to top - optional (but recommended)
- Beat together the eggs and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture becomes paler and with little bubbles in it.
- Separately, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this mixture to the egg-sugar mixture along with the oil, milk and lemon zest. Mix until smooth and well combined. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes.
- Towards the end of the chilling time, preheat the oven to 450F/230C. Line a muffin tin with 12 liners.
- Take the mixture out of the fridge and spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin liners - don't mix the batter, just scoop it out and just fill the liners to around ¾ full.
- If you like (recommended), sprinkle a little sugar over the top of each of the muffins then place them in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 400F/200C.
- Bake the muffins for approximately 15 minutes, turning once after around 10-12 minutes, if needed, to help the 'humps' be even in the middle (but don't open the oven before at least 10 minutes to make sure they rise properly).
- Allow to cool a minute or two before removing from tin onto a cooling rack.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.