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