Madeleine de Proust: a feast for the eyes and stomach
Specialising in the art of madeleines, Lygon St’s newest patisserie Madeleine de Proust is one of Melbourne’s most unique culinary offerings.
Co-founded by Hyoju Park (former Attica head pastry chef) and her chef-partner Rong Yao Soh, Madeleine de Proust bakes one thing, and bakes it well.
Hyoju’s fascination with madeleines began at the age of 14 during a baking class at her school, with madeleines being the first week’s lesson.
“At the same time, there was also a soap opera on TV and the female actress was a pastry chef who described the madeleine as a ‘sexy cookie’ – it made me feel like the madeleine was this amazing thing and I’ve always had a good image of them.”
While Rong’s cooking background is in savoury cuisine, he “fell in love with pastry” over lockdown, paving the way for the idea to open their own patisserie together.
“At first, we were thinking to have a Korean-influenced patisserie, but our design company came up with the name Madeleine de Proust so we thought, ‘Ok, if the name is madeleine, then we should make madeleines’”, Hyoju told Inner City News.
Is a madeleine a cookie or a cake?
According to Hyoju and Rong, a madeleine is both cookie and cake; “crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside”, baked in a special tin that gives them their shell-like shape.
Utilising traditional French patisserie techniques, the pair masterfully combines Australian and Asian-fusion flavours to create an elegant and delightful bite.
Their monthly rotating flavours are a testament to their creativity, with each madeleine linked to a “nostalgic memory” and reflected in the shop’s name, Madeleine de Proust; a French expression used to describe senses such as smell and taste that are reminiscent of childhood.
One of their most popular flavours on the current menu is the Corn madeleine, inspired by a Korean ice-cream that Hyoju grew up eating.
“We cook the corn and mix in cream cheese for the filling, then we make a popcorn ganache and pipe the kernels one by one, freeze it, spray a chocolate layer, then it needs to freeze again – it’s a three-day process,” she said.
The menu also pays homage to Rong’s Malaysian background with the Pandan and Coconut madeleine, while the Gold Nugget takes its inspiration from Australia’s gold-mining history.
Alongside their regular selection, Madeleine de Proust also bakes fresh madeleines as a weekend special for curious locals to try a simpler version of the pastry, as well as specialty flavours for festive occasions such as their upcoming Valentine’s Day-themed madeleines.
Although having just opened in December, Hyoju said that locals had responded well to the not-so-traditional Lygon St offering, and were enjoying “learning about madeleines”.
“I love Carlton, it’s such a fun vibe and there are lots of good places for food and wine – I’ve always had a great memory of the area, so I think it was the best location for us.”
Madeleine de Proust is located at 253 Lygon St and is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm. •