It's been said that those with an innate talent knew exactly what their gift was at a very young age. For Sophie Evanoff, it was pastries, a passion she discovered while baking alongside everyone from her mom to her teachers to the little old ladies who whipped up delicacies for church events.
Despite earning a degree in Psychology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn (a "practical" move encouraged by her parents), Evanoff managed to land a gig as a pastry cook at a restaurant in her hometown of Detroit. But it wasn't long before she decided to hone in on her craft by attending the French Pastry School in Chicago.
Post school, Evanoff worked a few years in the field to round out her classical culinary education while learning the ins-and-outs of the the business side with the intention of starting a venture of her own. A classic case of perfect timing, she discovered that Vanille was on the market. “I trusted my gut,” said Evanoff, and in her heart she’d knew she’d found the right opportunity.
Since buying Vanille in 2011, Evanoff has since then expanded the Lincoln Park location and is about to open a third outpost in Lakeview at 3243 North Broadway Street which will offer a new line of gluten-free layer cakes, her legendary macarons, and several other tempting delicacies. While we strongly suggest you taste-test Evanoff's creations for yourself, she's generously shared her French Madeleine recipe in case you want to try your hand at something new for the Thanksgiving table this year!
French Madeleine: Yield 36
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups eggs
- 2 !/2 cups sugar
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 1/8 cups butter, melted, cooled
- Using a mixer, whip sugar, eggs, lemon, and lemon zest.
- Sift flour, salt, baking powder.
- On low speed, add the flour mixture, then stream in cooled liquid melted butter, just till combined.
- Finish by hand till combined; be sure to scrape down bowl with spatula.
- Put batter into piping bag. Set aside and get madeleine pans ready.
- Getting molds ready: Brush with melted butter and dust with flour.
- Pipe into prepared molds, freeze for five minutes.
- Bake at 350 degree oven for 10-14 minutes.