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Monday, October 19, 2009

Caneles, Canneles? - French Pastry

Custardy Canele3

Canele Closeup


One of the things I like about traditional French Pastry is that every pastry seem to have a legend or story behind it. Some of these legends are mysterious and have been handed down from generation to generation... giving the pastry chefs who are still working with these recipes a sense of mission and making them guardians of these traditions.

I did not know what a Cannele was until some 2 years ago when I saw them at one of the fine patisserie in Singapore who calls themselves.. what else, but Canele. That was about the time when Singapore became infected by the Macaron fever. Like every avid baker I knew, I learnt to make macarons and was on a constant quest to seek out macarons from different patisseries to understand and compare. Together with Bakerzin, Canele has one of the best macarons I can find in Singapore. It was during my first trip to Canele that I spotted the cannele- dark crusty little knobs that were going at $1.50 a pop. Out of curiosity, I bought one piece. It was an intriguing little cake - hard, crusty on the outside and soft custardy on the inside. I didn't go ga-ga over it but I was fascinated. It wasn't until much later that I googled about this mysterious cake and discovered the magic behind it.

Originated from Bordeaux about 300 years ago, legend has it that these cakes were made by nuns using flour spilled over the dock by some cargo ships. These sweets were made using copper fluted molds buried in embers and distributed to poor children - Other tales exist about the origin of this cake but what fascinated me was that this almost charcoal black morsel had risen and lost its popularity over the centuries and it was not until about 20 years ago, they started to re-surface with a vengeance. In order to maintain the integrity of the cake, 88 patissiers in Bordeaux formed a brotherhood to safeguard the recipe. To differentiate their devotion to the original recipe, the Bordeaux chefs had spelt their cake as Caneles (with a single n, vs Canneles) and as such, the Canele de Bordeaux is the official cake of the City while elsewhere, the cake is known as Canneles... Such is the intensity of their devotion and commitment to their craft.

For the benefit of those who have not had the chance to partake of this magical cake, this is a egg and milk based recipe baked in traditional copper molds at high temperature for a long time. The end result is a dark caramelised crusty shell with a soft custard like center. The generous use of vanilla and rum gives it a refined yet robust flavour. Best served with coffee. I first learnt to make this using Bakerzin's Daniel Tay's recipe but have grown to prefer another recipe found in one of my favourite cook book Egg by Lyndsay Mikanowski. I don't make Caneles often as it tends to get tedious - not because it is difficult but because I ONLY HAVE 6 MOLDS to work with!!! Each batch needs to be baked at high temperature for an hour... so yes, after 1 hour, I only get 6 little Canneles! Why, you will ask - because the copper molds are so damn expensive! They cost me $30 each! I suppose I can buy a silicone mold but the caramelising effect is quite different from the copper mold.
Caneles Molds
Until I am willing to splurge over more molds, I probably will not make enough to distribute among friends...

Picnik collage
Recipe :
2             whole eggs plus 1 yolk
500ml      milk
225g        sugar
50g          butter
2 tsp        Vanilla Paste
4 tbsp      Rum
100g        plain flour

One day before :
1. Boil milk with 100g sugar in a heavy saucepan. Once boiling, remove milk from heat and add butter and vanilla paste. (or vanilla pod)
2. Whisk eggs with remaining sugar until mixture whitens.Add flour and mix well. Add in boiled milk mixture.
Sieve and refrigerate for at least 24hours.

Next day:
1. Coat cooled copper Cannele mold in fridge. Coat molds with melted beewax/butter (1:1).
2. Add rum to the refrigerated batter - sieve again if necessary. Fill the molds with batter and bake at 180C for 60 minutes.
3. Unmold when still hot and leave to cool. Once unmolded, the cake is soft and spongy. The crust will harden as it cools. Ideally, the cake should be almost charcoal black.


RHG said...

Those Canelés look great. I discovered them while at a the main train station in Bordeaux a few years back. You are right those molds are expensive but next time you are in Paris make sure to stop by E. Dehillerin where you can get them for a mere 8 euros each! I bought 10 of them, and then got berated at home for not getting a full dozen. They also have a website that might be worth a shot. Also don't bother with the silicone molds, they don't come out right at all.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Moises, thanks for the great lead! I will be taking a business trip to Munich next month - I probably can fly via Air France and stop by in Paris! Thanks again!

www.DE HARINA Y DE said...

this little confections look really interesting... i am kind of far away from the store for the molds, but i'll see if i can use something else.
the cakes are pretty attractive with such a contrasting consistency.
greetings from Mexico!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hola,thanks for stopping by. Indeed, this is a very interesting confection. It goes very well with coffee -you've got very good coffee in Mexico- especially when you cook it in some earthen claypot :) Good luck and let me know how it turns out.

Trissa said...

Great job on the canneles - I do love them and I use the recipe from Paula Wolfert which I can swear by. I also love the way the copper molds look but can never bring myself to pay for it. Too expensive! Lucky you!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Trissa,thanks. I will try to search for Paula Wolfert's recipe. Yes, the copper molds are so expensive :(, baking 6 canneles at a time is just not energy efficient.... sigh.

Irene's Footprints said...

wow...expensive moulds..
You got your stuff from cheaper overseas.

Where you got these copper moulds, in Sin?

Real nice bakes...

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Irene, yes, I got these molds in Singapore at Shermay's Cooking School. I am going to look out for them in Europe. Have you tried the Canneles at Caneles?

Barbara said...

They have turned out beautifully. I have aluminium moulds and have only used them once. Mine stuck, but the taste was excellent. I'm ready to try again.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hello Barbara!Once again, congratulations on the success of the Taste of Yellow Event. Not sure if you had used beewax to coat the mold. I have read that in the absence of beewax,you can cool the mold in the fridge before coating it with melted butter(pour the liquid butter into the mold and pour it out again). Solidifying the coat of butter in the fridge a little more before filling it with cold batter may help.

Irene's Footprints said...

Only Shermay sells? lately I went to Canada, they have veri good selection of bakewares, William Sonoma and Nordic Ware...veri sturdy bake wares...check it out

Will these be expensive in Europe? Consider the exchange rate and tax.

Wow you travel quite often..good!
How you shot these nice fotos??

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Ha ha...I rush to get the right light by shooting near a window. I tell you- photoshop/picasa helps alot.I am going to check out some digital SLR this weekend with my friends. Shermay sells it because she used to have a class that taught Caneles. WS is a nice shop but overpriced..:( Next time you can try Sur La Table.

Irene's Footprints said...

haha i forgot to tell you i went to Seattle to fnd Sur La blogger from Seattle leads me there...You been to any of their shops?

: ))

Irene's Footprints said...

which digital SLR you eyeing...forgot to ask you? Isnt it cheaper to buy at COmex?

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Yes,I have been to Sur La Table. I go to the only one in Manhattan. I prefer a Canon.May check out the model and wait till Comex.

Oui, Chef said...

What a fabulous photo and great story about Canneles. I fell in love with these while living in France a few years back, and were just offered some the other night at a local benefit cocktail party. My wife fell in love with them as well, so now I must search for molds! Dehelerin was one of my favorite haunts in Paris, I'll look there first to see if I can buy some on-line. Just yesterday I found a recipe for Canneles in Nancy Silverton's "Pastries from La Brea Bakery", have you tried hers yet? Can't wait to make my own, thanks for the great post.

high over happy said...

I love them, but the ones you get at a regular bakery are usually not moist enough. But yours look great!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Thanks,HOH. When I first got to eat this, I was baffled by the contrast in texture. The outside is so crusty that you can literally hear the thud when you knock your fork against it.But the inside is so soft and moist.

Oui Chef: Thanks for dropping by. You should really try them. Thanks for the recipe lead. I am keen to check it out and make comparisons. By the way, you can also get these copper molds at Sur La Table but it is quite expensive.

A Bowl Of Mush said...

Oooh I love canneles!!

I just bought some molds for them too, I'm just dying to try them!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

ABowlOfMush, please do try them.I hope you've bought more molds that I have... :)

RHG said...

Hey I just requesed an estimate from
for 14 medium size molds and it came out to €124 inc taxes and international shipping. Came out to €5.73 a piece. Not bad.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Moises, thanks for checking this out! 5.73euro is a very good price! I am so going to get it from Dehillerin. Thanks for sharing! I know there are a couple of bloggers out there who are planning to get some. Thanks!

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

$30 a pop!! *faints* But then again, quality comes at a price. You really make the most beautiful, wonderful food. Very talented!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Ju, thank you for your lavish compliments but I am really just following recipe books - hardly talented ;) I only wish I could post more regularly like the way you do...

Irene's Footprints said...

have u been to Ailin Bakery at Tanjong Katong Complex. They have quite a lot of copper moulds. Not sure if the price is cheaper than what you have got.

: )

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Irene,no I have not been there. Will find a chance to check it out. Thanks.

bossacafez said...

hey thx for dropping by my blog. i can't believe i've never come across yours until today! mine really pales in comparison compared to yours. you've got superb knowledge in baking!

i try to refrain buying anything from shermays coz their stuffs are reallyyyy overpriced. once i got this rather small silpat from them at $40+ whereas a bigger one from BIY was only $38.

i wish i hv these copper molds too but they're so expensive. your caneles turned out so beautiful! i tried baking them using a silicon mould, just couldn't get the caramelizing effect at all, plus the imprints weren't even that obvious.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Evan! No,no,no... I really like your blog. I just started blogging a few months ago and am still struggling with photos.Your photos are amazing! I agree,stuff at Shermay's are overpriced but I think, in general similar stuff if, available in Singapore are over priced. Silpats are really cheap in the US. I will be in Europe for business next week and I plan to get more cannele molds in Paris. Heard they are much cheaper there!

bossacafez said...

your photos are really good too you know! i fell in love with your blog at first sight. its amazing to know people with so much knowledge in baking, especially in singapore where its really rare to find good baking blogs (most just make too much chiffon cakes, muffins & brownies hehe) and the rest are just restaurant review ones.

how much are the canele molds in paris? alot cheaper? so envy you're going there! wish i could visit all the patisseries & tea salons like pierre herme & laduree :(

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

One fellow told me it is less than
6 euro which is about S$12. Yes, I am going to hit Mariage Freres, PH & Lauderee...:)Perhaps I will post something while I am there. Email me if you need help with the cannele molds.

WendyinKK said...

Kill me for those molds..
When baking is a passion, like all the woman is us, we'll buy buy buy.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Wendy! Good to see you again. Yes, women are hopeless,I agree. I just bought a dozen more molds in Paris - much much cheaper there... now I can make more caneles at one bake!

MV said...

Looks like they're on sale for $14.50 each here. For those of us who can't go to paris :(

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi Margaret, thank you for dropping by and leaving the link. Alternatively, try to mail order from E Dehillerian - I heard that with shipping and all it will work out to be less than US$7 each.

Steven Dunn said...

Hi Shirley....I'm back. Just wanted to let you know that I finally got around to making cannele last weekend, and with a little experimentation, I finally got them to turn out beautifully. I used Nancy Silverton's recipe, but ended up changing the cooking time and temperature to 1 hour total cooking time (rotated them at 30 minutes), and upped the temperature to 392 F (200 C). I ended up buying some aluminum molds at Sur la Table in NYC a few weeks ago when I was there, brushed them with melted butter and ended up with a delicious dark brown crust. Much cheaper than the copper ones. Thanks again for inspiring me to make these. Happy New Year! - Steve (Oui, Chef)

Unknown said...

Those cakes look just utterly delicious. Do you use ice machines for your drinks at all, or are they, as one would put it, "au natural"?

Unknown said...

I live in France and I always use silicone molds just cause they are so much cheaper and I don't taste a difference at all. Maybe when I'm rich I'll buy the metal ones but even at 8 euros a piece that is too high for my budget.
I'm making a batch of 12 right now with two mold sets of 6.

Helene said...

Hi! I tried these cannelés a few months ago and they were delicious but not as brown and crunchy that I expected. I thought it was because I used silicone molds but my mom who's an expert in cannelés told me it's because you're supposed to start baling them at 220°C for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 180. Did yours turn out perfectly brown and crunchy with the 180°C baking for one hour?

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hi HeLene, yes I did bake it at 180C through. If you were using silicone molds, you may want to try baking longer or your mother's method actually sounded quite good.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shirley,

How many caneles does the recipe make?

What is meant by beeswax and butter of 1:1?
Do I need to melt them before using?

So after coating them, do I just leave them in
the fridge till they are cold to the touch? Then
I add in the batter?



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