February marks the first birthday of Michelin starred chef Claude Bosi and restaurateur Samyukta Nair’s Mayfair bistro, Socca, where Madeleines are a perennial favourite on the menu.
Celebrating its anniversary on the 14 February, Socca is a love letter to the French Riviera, and in particular the coastal towns of Cannes, Marseille and Nice. Here, Michelin-starred chef Claude has crafted a delicate, simple menu that is seasonal to its core, where comforting dishes are elevated with refined skill. And the whimsically rustic setting more than matches the food – think scallop shell wall lights, hand painted lampshades, a vintage mirror-backed bar and terracotta plant pots on windowsills. All of which makes it the ultimate spot for a romantic meal: a great choice for a special Valentine’s date. If you manage to get a sought-after table on the night, we recommend the delicious lamb shoulder, which is designed for sharing; a Socca staple, it is slow cooked until the meat falls off the bone and served with an exquisite Niçoise sauce. And for dessert, Madeleines, of course. These delicate shell-shaped cakes are on the menu at Socca year-round, though regular diners have come to expect seasonal adaptations. We particularly loved the honey Madeleine, served with shavings of white truffle and Pedro Ximénez vanilla ice cream that featured on the menu of the ‘Socca Seasons: Truffles’ dinner last November. For Valentine’s Day, Claude has created this gorgeous red velvet version, and we managed to persuade him to share the recipe here. Give it a go, but do yourself a favour and book a table to experience Claude’s mastery for yourself, too. It’s guaranteed to impress your special someone.
41a South Audley Street, London, W1K (020 3376 0000; soccabistro.com)
360g plain flour | 1 tsp baking powder | 50g cocoa powder | 2g salt | 120g unsalted butter | 400g caster sugar | 220g vegetable oil | 3 eggs | 1 tbsp vanilla extract | 220g butter milk | 20g milk | approx 2 tsps red food colouring
1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. In a bowl, mix together the remaining dry ingredients.
3. Add the eggs to the creamed sugar, one at a time.
4. Next, add the vegetable oil, vanilla and colouring.
5. Fold in 1/3 of the dry ingredients followed by 1/3 of the buttermilk and repeat this step 2 more times.
6. Rest the mixture in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
7. Pipe into Madeleine moulds and cook at 175 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.