Orange & Pistachio Magdalenas

26 Comments on Orange & Pistachio Magdalenas

Magdalenas have a unique fluffy texture setting them apart from muffins or cupcakes


The most important meal of the day.

The secret to better brain functionality, staying healthy, lowering blood sugar levels and preventing obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.

The perfect excuse to indulge in the pleasure of eating when you are truly hungry.

There’s nothing more satisfying than a good breakfast. In the working week I tend to rotate between different combinations of fruit, nuts, seeds and cereal, adding in yoghurt or milk for protein or substituting in homemade toast with smashed avocado or a scrape of salty butter if I fancy something savoury.


Toasted pistachios add a lovely crunch to these simple sweet treats

On holiday, it’s nice to mix things up. At our house in Italy, breakfast without a giant jar of Nutella would feel amiss, last year’s trip to Sicily was all about the most perfect figs, tender to the touch and oozing ruby red guts and sugar sweet juice, and on our recent trip to Barcelona, it was all about the bakeries.

For a nation that enjoys its food so much, the Spanish aren’t particularly brilliant at breakfast. While the more modern cafés and restaurants have cottoned on to the smoothies, mueslis and cooked breakfasts so commonplace in Britain and America, go anywhere a little more traditional and you’re unlikely to find anything more than cafe con leche and the possibility of a small cake or pastry to accompany it.


Enjoy these magdalenas warm or cold, plain or as part of a breakfast buffet

I suppose the theory is that with so much wonderful food on offer, you don’t want to peak too early. Lunch is a major meal in Spain, often so serious that a siesta is required to sleep it off (although hot weather is also a viable excuse), while supper starts at a late enough hour that you could feasibly still full enough when you first wake up not to want anything especially big for breakfast.

Knowing that the breakfast on offer in lots of local cafes might not be the most exciting option, I made a list of bakeries to try before we left for Barcelona. While every other street corner is home to little shops stocked with crusty baguettes, flaky pastries, homemade pizzas, biscuits and the like, a lot of them are actually pre-prepared in industrial lots or made using industrial yeasts and additives. If I was going to indulge in pastry for breakfast, I wanted to know that it had been lovingly made, hand-crafted, and was artisan born and bre(a)d.


Break open each little cake to reveal a light, spongy interior

It’s hard to go wrong with a croissant for breakfast – flaky pastry layers being the perfect accompaniment to coffee and hand-sliced jamón (Carnivorous Boyfriend’s breakfast of choice) or fruit squeezed to juice before your eyes and plump sweet nectarines (mine), both bought from the incredible Boqueria market. However another breakfast treat which caught my eye was a simple little cake, served plain or scented with citrus, and ubiquitous to almost every bakery in Barcelona; the magdalena.

A Spanish take on the French madeleinemagdalenas are baked in mini muffin tins and traditionally eaten at breakfast with cafe con leche. While the appearance is similar to that of a muffin or cupcake, these little Spanish treats have a lighter, spongier texture, with tiny air bubbles in the batter. Olive oil rather than butter is used in the base, again adding to the lightnss, and a scant 50g of sugar divided between 16 magdalenas means that they aren’t overly sweet either.

Most of the magdalenas we saw in the bakeries were either plain or lemon flavoured, however doing some research online back in England, I discovered this post which referenced orange zest and toasted pistachios as suitable additions. Knowing how delicious this combination can be from my orange and pistachio polenta cake, I decided to give it a go.


Simple yet delicious. What more could you want?

The result is wonderfully light, bright and melt-in-the-mouth. Each tiny cake is slightly crisp on the outside, moist in the middle and packed with citrus punch and the crunch of toasted pistachios against the lovely little air pockets. Eaten alone they make for a very light breakfast, but throw in some fruit, nuts, ham and cheese and you’ve got yourself a very respectable meal.

Enough to keep you going til lunchtime anyway.

Orange & Pistachio Magdalenas
(makes approx. 16 little cakes)


115g plain flour, sifted
50g golden caster sugar
Zest of one orange
100ml olive oil
3 large free range eggs, separated
2 tbsp full fat milk
1 tsp orange blossom water
50g pistachios, toasted & chopped


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line two small muffin trays with paper cases (or you can pour the batter straight into the cups if greased with a little butter).

Gently combine the flour, sugar, orange zest, olive oil, egg yolks, milk and orange blossom water in a large bowl. Fold in the chopped pistachios.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Fold a spoon of egg white into your liquid batter to loosen it, then carefully fold in the rest of the whipped whites, taking care not to knock too much air out.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin trays, filling each cup about two thirds of the way up. Bake for approx. 15 minutes, or until the tops are puffed and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before tucking in.

26 RESPONSES TO Orange & Pistachio Magdalenas

  1. I’ve never heard of these but they sound lovely! This post takes me back to my trip to Barcelona many years ago. I always find it weird that they don’t seem bothered about breakfast on the continent, as it’s my favourite meal of they day and I’m always trying out new recipes and stuff…but then I think you’re right that it’s all about saving room for the amazing food at lunch!

  2. These look lovely. I love muffiny type things. If I could live on them, I would!

  3. londonbakes -

    Funny, I absolutely love breakfast in Spain. We went to Bilbao a couple of years ago and our breakfasts were just about my highlight of the trip. But that maybe because I have no problem with eating jamon or garlic first thing in the morning…

    These little treats look really delicious though, I love that they use olive oil rather than butter. They look so light and fluffy.

  4. A yummy combo; would love to have them with a cup of ginger tea !!

  5. Loaf, what a lovely combination of flavours. They have a great colour too, really subtle. I can’t believe how cute they are 😀

  6. What a wonderful combination of flavours. They do represent a hot Spanish morning and I would be tucking into these with a good cup of coffee. I love using olive oil in cakes. adds a richness but not heavy in any way :)x

  7. These magdalenas look divine! And I’ve never used olive oil in cakes or breads…I will have to try it!

  8. Kate, I could not agree more about breakfast – absolute necessity to kick start the day if any amount of efficiency is required! These little magdalenas look and sound so scrumptious – bet they smell amazing fresh from the oven! x

  9. I have never had these in Spain but will look out for them when we go there in a few weeks. I love your flavor combination, you always add the perfect little loaf touch!

  10. Just gorgeous! I remember purposely waking up later in Barcelona, so I could have tomato bread and jamon for breakfast. If I’d discovered these, it would have been a whole other story.

    • The Single Gourmet & Traveller – that would be the perfect combination 🙂

      Elly – it’s the same in Italy – even in the nicest hotels breakfast can sometimes be disappointing. But then the rest of the food does more than make up for it!

      Laura – you’d be pretty unhealthy, but probably very happy 😉

      London Bakes – haha, I have absolutely no problem with garlic in the morning, bring it on!

      Meg – thank you.

      ShimmeShine – what a lovely combination.

      Frugal Feeding – thank you, they are very dainty. All the more reason to eat two 🙂

      Laura – these cakes are super light and the olive oil adds a lovely flavour as long as you use a fairly mild one.

      Burlesque Baker – you definitely should!

      Jaime – they smelled so yummy…and taste so delicious whilst still warm.

      Nuts About Food – ah thank you 🙂

      Lorraine – I know. I’ve always wanted to make madeleines but not had the proper tins – these are the perfect compromise.

      Tori – thank you 🙂 Pan con tomate is one of my favourite things ever – absolutely perfect for breakfast if you can find it that early!

  11. This sounds so delicious! I love the mix of orange and pistachio I think its my favourite Mediterranean flavour combination

  12. I’ve never heard of magdalenas before, but they look like a delicious way to start the day. I love your orange and pistachio combination!

  13. Lisa -

    This is the first time I’ve heard of magdalenas, and I already love them! I made an orange – pistachio cupcake using olive oil a while back, so I’m curious to try those flavors in magdalena form! I have to admit, they’re really cute – cute as in..I could probably eat 5 of ’em 😉

    • Lottie – thank you!

      Jenny – I think it might be mine too 🙂

      My Dear Bakes – thank you 🙂

      Jennifer – they are lovely and light and the flavour combination is gorgeous.

      Lisa – definitely do try the magdalenas – very similar to French madeleines, just a different shape. And so small that eating 5 is totally allowed!

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  15. I love how much information you provide in your posts. When I visited Spain, I was totally disappointed by their breakfast offerings. I could tell, too, that the pastries available were the same everywhere I went. However, I am not sure I saw these! I thank you for introducing me to them. They sound lovely!

  16. These look so good. I’m getting keener by the week on compiling some sort of collection of small European cakes. I’ve hunted around for a book, but haven’t come across one. I’m a bit of a puritan when it comes ot breakfast. Although I’m happy to indulge later in the day, I don’t like sugar or anything unhealthy for breakfast. Avocado on toast is one of my favourites, but it’s just so hard to get decent avocados, I don’t have it very often. And how disappointing to find the bakeries in Spain are full of mass produced goods – just like our 🙁

    • Kaitlin – it’s a question of finding the right bakeries, I think. Got some Barcelona bakery recommendations coming up in my next post!

      Savory Simple – thank you 🙂

      Choclette – it’s hard to beat avocado on toast for a delicious, salty, healthy breakfast. But on holiday it’s all about the pastries 🙂

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