Munch Out with Jack Randol

Welcome to Munch Out, Eater’s Digest’s drop-in home cooking column. In this biweekly series, we ask random and not-so-random Minneapolitans to talk about the unbeatable dishes they’ve got up their sleeves. Today’s subject: Jack Randol.

A year out of MCAD, Jack Randol, 23, works at the Walker Arts Center and makes frequent appearances on local fashion blog Fashionasty. His weapon of choice? French baking. (Rustica, eat your heart out!)

“I first got into baking because my grandmother did it all the time,” Randol says. “And then one Christmas, I got Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. I remember trying to make her puff pastry recipe when I first got the book — it was a pain in the ass, but it turned out amazing.”

Randol’s commitment to the craft is exceptional: last year, he routinely baked a whole pie from scratch every week. Though that pales in comparison to the hallowed Grandma-woke-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn-and-baked-10-pies stories that everyone is sick of hearing, it’s still a commendable feat for a single twenty-something.

For our story, Randol baked up a pan of madeleines; according to him, they’re much easier to make than one would assume. Really, he says, the hardest part is finding the pan. “But I found mine for 99¢ at Unique Thrift!” The pastry itself has a literary significance that seems almost passé to recount. Presciently, Randol placed a quite different book under the plate for the photoshoot. “I thought it’d be funny to have Proust here, but I think I like Sylvia Plath better anyway.”

Lavender Madeleines
Adapted from Epicurious

  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ C sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp grated lemon peel
  • 1 tbsp dried lavender
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 10 tbsp (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly

Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter and flour pan for large madeleines. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and ⅔ cup sugar in large bowl just to blend. Beat in lavender, vanilla, lemon peel, and salt. Add flour; beat just until blended. Gradually add cooled melted butter in steady stream, beating just until blended.

Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each indentation in pan. Bake until puffed and brown, about 16 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Gently remove from pan. Repeat process, buttering and flouring pan before each batch. (Can be made 1 day ahead.)

Dust cookies with powdered sugar.