the history of the canelé

by ally redmond

In every region in France you find local desserts like the kouign amann of Brittany and the Croustade of the south. In the southwest they are known for something entirely unique, the canelé. This is a little treat made in a copper fluted mold that is caramelised and crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside with a taste similar to a crème brulée. The dessert comes from Bordeaux, a top wine producing region, where they used egg whites to seal the wine barrels. Finding themselves with too many egg yolks, this dessert was created!   And since it was a port town, rum and vanilla were later added to the mix.  Have you noticed how the best things come about almost by accident?!

square in bordeaux with mist from fountains

Later, there was a pastry snafu! The artisans called the “canauliers” that specialised in baking them decided to band together in the mid-16th century to create a corporation. Since they were not part of the Pastry Guild, who had a monopoly on baking with milk and sugar. This resulted in quite the dispute when the “canauliers” were prohibited from using those ingredients. Finally about 100 years later the council in Versailles ruled in their favour and bakeries specialising in the dessert sprung up all over the Bordeaux region.

The name comes from the combination of the French words for “wave” and “fluted or corrugated.” Often you’ll see it spelled with two “n’s” but spelling was changed to just one, with the creation of the Brotherhood of the Canelé just recently in 1985!

box of caneles in a square in bordeaux

In our August My Stylish French Box we included copper canelé molds that I also often use in my kitchen as little candle holders . You actually want to make the batter the day before as the flavor will develop overnight in the fridge.

The Recipe

To start, heat 80ml of milk with 25g of butter, a teaspoon of vanilla extract or paste, and 10g of granulated sugar. Remove from the heat when the milk is just steaming and the butter has melted. Wait until the mixture has cooled a bit, but is still warm and then add one egg and one egg yolks, whisking. Add 150ml more of milk, and a good drop of rum, about a tablespoon. In another bowl, whisk together 60g of flour, 100g of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Mix this into the liquid mixture bit by bit, whisking but not so much that you add air to the batter. It will be very liquid, almost like crêpe batter. Let chill overnight.

the my stylish french box canele molds with flowers

When you are ready to bake the canelé, preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Warm your molds in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Then carefully “paint” the inside with butter or beeswax using a brush or spray. Fill the molds, leaving about .5cm space from the top, and bake 10-15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 180C/375F and bake for another 30-35 minutes until deep golden brown. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then turn over to remove from the molds.

baked caneles on a baking sheet


I can guarantee you instant popularity if you serve these canelés to your friends, and that never hurt anyone!


Victoria Savu October 4, 2018 - 2:30 pm

Love those little copper molds. I do a great deal of baking and would love to own a few. Do you know how I could purchase some? I might even try to make the cake. Have a great day. XO

Sharon Santoni October 9, 2018 - 11:35 am

Dear Victoria, I would take a look at either EDehillerin or Mora. Both are beautiful cooking supply shops in Paris that have websites and would certainly have these. Warm wishes Sharon

Victoria Savu October 24, 2018 - 1:35 pm

Thank you. Going to Paris next Fall. I will put those stores on my list of places to go. Along with one of the baking schools you posted about.

Taste of France October 4, 2018 - 3:22 pm

Isn’t it amazing how many different things the French manage to make with some eggs, butter, flour and sugar, and they’re all so different? From soufflées to quatre-quarts to crêpes and more.
Back when my kid was in kindergarten, the class made canelés. They start ’em young here.

Freddie Ann October 4, 2018 - 5:19 pm

Looks delicious. I have never tried one, but now have a recipe, so good times ahead. I’m sure they smell wonderful.

Mary October 4, 2018 - 5:47 pm

We have a bakery in St. Louis that makes these and many other French goodies. These are wonderful.
The Chef and his wife are both from France and brought their talents to our city! Makes me happy!!

Elizabeth Waalkes October 4, 2018 - 10:47 pm

We live in St Louis! Where is your bakery?

Sharon Santoni October 9, 2018 - 11:36 am

Oh how wonderful! x Sharon

DJ Baggerly January 16, 2019 - 3:07 am

we are not far from St Louis, what is the name of the bakery please?

Colleen Taylor October 4, 2018 - 10:10 pm

These look absolutely wonderful Sharon. I have something similar to those copper molds so that should work just fine. Thank you! X

Frances from L'Abeille Française October 4, 2018 - 10:57 pm

I first had the pleasure of tasting canelé at the Christmas Market on the Champs-Élysées a couple of years ago and was instantly hooked! The texture, the flavour – just perfect! I picked up some moulds when I was back in Paris this summer so am looking forward to giving them a try. Thanks for the recipe!

Stephanie J October 4, 2018 - 11:58 pm

Are the molds made by Mauviel? They are just gorgeous as are your photos and blog. I am putting “My Stylish French Box” on my wish list for Christmas. Thank you for a lovely and informative post!

Sharon Santoni October 9, 2018 - 11:39 am

Hi Stephanie, I’ve used molds by Mauviel before and absolutely love them. There are lots of great options out there though. So glad you enjoyed the post.

Sheralyn October 5, 2018 - 1:31 am

Bonjour Sharon,
Could you please tell us how many standard-size Canelé this recipe quantity makes?
It would just be helpful to know how many moulds are required.

Sharon Santoni October 9, 2018 - 11:41 am

Hi Sheralyn, This recipe makes about 12 canele 🙂 If you don’t have 12 molds, what you can do is make as many canele as you can, and then later that day, or even the following day, make another batch. Especially as they are best fresh, this would be a great way to go. Warm regards, Sharon

Joanne Day October 5, 2018 - 4:56 am

Hi Sharon,
Thanks for this insight into the Canelé. They are delicious.
I’ve made these before and had a little trouble getting them out of the moulds but will try beeswax! Great tip!
FYI I always make a batch of Friands afterwards to use up the extra egg whites x

Dottie Monta October 5, 2018 - 4:56 am

Never tried these on trips to France! Thought they would be heavy, dense, bland–compared to other offerings.
Now, thanks to you Sharon, I know better!
Can’t wait to try!

Jennifer Canfield October 5, 2018 - 1:23 pm

Can you please advise where I can buy the molds?? Thanks so much!

Sharon Santoni October 9, 2018 - 12:21 pm

Dear Jennifer, In Paris, I would recommend visiting Mora or E.Dehillerin. Both also have online shops 🙂 best, Sharon

Nella October 5, 2018 - 7:11 pm

Sharon, I saw these everywhere in Boudeaux….a lovely surprise for me…I did not expect the size, culture, architecture, shopping….I fell in love with Bourdeaux. I purchased the molds for my sister who has a small catering business….I bought them because they were so lovely! The recipe is simple and the caneles delicious! Loved to read this, thank you!

Sue October 7, 2018 - 6:24 pm

Thank you for the history of this beautiful cake. I have seen the molds in store and I googled the name too. The molds are sold everywhere Amazon, Wilton and Walmart to name a few. I might try this some time with my grand-daughter who loves to bake.

Velvet October 7, 2018 - 7:59 pm

They look delicious! They must be a great treat! Thank you so much!

Carol Ariens October 9, 2018 - 3:50 pm

For those who live in the States, William-Sonoma has the molds. They come in sets of six or you can buy one at a time. They are made in France.

Danielle Eilender October 9, 2018 - 11:57 pm

I was born in the Berry where la Galette au fromage is a local delicacie. I now live in Texas but I go to Bordeaux every year to visit my sister. I really enjoy a canele with a good cup of coffee. I am always looking for some old canele molds to bring back to my shop in Texas. I sell them with the recipe . Sharing a good recipe is always fun!
I always enjoy your blog! Thank you.

Denise Duvall October 10, 2018 - 2:50 am

Are the finished canelé hollow inside like popovers? The batter seems similar. Or are they like clafoutis?


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