Canelés de Bordeaux were part of my “foodie” education from quite an early age. Remember that I lived in Bordeaux for about 20 years so that little pastry I discovered rather young. I remember that little Bailladran shop in the mall of the nearby supermarket. Every week I would go with my Mom doing the groceries and every now and then – once we had a full shopping cart – we would stop by the famous Canelés shop and get for each one of us a delicious Canelés. It felt like a little secret between my Mom and I – and thinking about it still makes me smile… The Canelés are like the Madeleine from Proust I’d say.
For the one of you that are not quite familiar with Canelés, here it is: It’s a local and traditional pastry from Bordeaux that was created in the 18th century. It has a soft, custard center with a thick, browned crust and can be eaten any time of the day – it’s simply delicious and once you’ve had one you will ask for more 😉 Den did not believe me when I told him that but once the little cakes where out of the oven – they really did not last long. Even though they are even better eaten cold.
Now, Canelés have a reputation for being difficult to make, and I’m not going to completely debunk that notion here. The batter is quite simple enough though. What’s challenging is achieving the proper texture—that caramelised crust encasing a creamy vanilla- and rum-scented interior—that makes a Canelé a Canelé and not just any other cake. I remember the first few time my Mom tried to recreate them at home – they would drive her crazy. Canelés needs time and “air” is your enemy.
I have tested a couple of recipes and here is what I think works the best to get a nice caramelised crust on the outside and a soft and chewy baked custard on the inside.
Canelés de Bordeaux:
Makes 12 large Canelés
Cooking time: 45mins (+ 24hrs for the batter to chill)
– 500ml milk
– 2 vanilla beans
– 50gr butter
– 200gr sugar
– 2 egg yolks
– 2 eggs
– 100ml good quality rhum
– 120gr plain flour
– pinch of salt
– Canelés molds (copper are the best to get an even crust but aluminium and silicon work fine as well)
Bring the milk to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla beans and seeds, and let infuse for about 5 minutes.
Place a medium bowl over a saucepan filled with a little simmering water (2-3cm max). Add the butter and whisk until very creamy. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the sugar, egg yolks, whole eggs and rhum, then whisk in the flour and salt. Whisk gently to avoid creating bubbles.
Remove the vanilla beans from the milk BUT reserve them on the side. and pour the milk into the batter, again whisk in very gently. Pour the batter into a plastic bottle, add in the reserved vanilla beans and chill for at least 24hours. This is an important step that will avoid your Canelés to come out of the molds while cooking.
Preheat the oven to 250C (425F) – the oven needs to be really really hot – that will help form the crust. Butter the molds.
Fill the molds almost entirely – just until 5mm of the top of your molds and bake for 20mins at 250C. Then turn down the oven to 220C and bake for another 40mins, or until a rich brown shell forms.
Immediately transfer the Canelés to racks and let cool. Serve at room temperature (if you are able to wait…. 😉 )
Serve with tea or coffee for breakfast, or with a glass of Sauterne wine or Cognac in the late afternoon or evening.
The Dutch boyfriend’s opinion:
De-li-cious! Raph told me to wait until they were cooled down, but I just couldn’t help myself. So good, so soft, so amazing. Not the most manly activity, but eating these little pieces of heaven make me forget about all of that. Where is the next batch?