Canelés are these small, dark brown French pastries traditionally flavoured with vanilla and dark rum, and originating in the French region of Bordeaux. You may or may not have seen them around – these unassuming little cakes sit at the corner of a shelf at Selfridge’s Food Hall, overshadowed by all the glitter and rainbow and unicorn cakes. Omotesando Koffee also serves a similar product alongside their coffee – in small cubes going by the name “Kashi”.
It wouldn’t be too correct to describe these as a “cake” – rather a baked custard, crunchy on the outside (when freshly baked), soft and chewy on the inside. They have risen in popularity in Asia, especially in Japan, where the recipe has been taken there and perfected at rather aesthetic looking bakeries.
I was initially quite intimated by the idea of attempting these – the main reason being the copper moulds that they are traditionally baked in. They are difficult to find, requires playing around in beeswax and are also ridiculously expensive. The last thing I want to do is splash out £20 on a single mould and it brewing a failure inside. And even if it did succeed, imagine going backwards and forwards baking one at a time for an hour each?! (Or spend over £100 for 6 moulds which isn’t still quite time nor price efficient.)
I did some research around and found some other cheaper alternatives to copper moulds: carbon steel, aluminium and silicone.
Silicone moulds are the ones that caused the most controversy amongst the internet people (at least according to the Amazon reviews) – some people think they are great, some people end up with drastic looking canelés with half the canelé stuck inside the mould after baking. (The canelé should slip out from the mould very easily.)
The mould I ended up choosing is the DeBuyer Elastomoule mould. (not Not sponsored, in case you’re wondering.) DeBuyer is a well-known French brand that specialises in professional silicone baking equipment. The Elastomoule is one of their innovative materials which mixes metal powder into the silicone foam, which helps the mould conduct heat and achieve better caramelisation. They are around £18 a pop (with 6 holes), which I thought wouldn’t be too heartbreaking if it didn’t work out. They also do not require seasoning or fiddling around with beeswax (yay)!
To my delight, these moulds worked pretty well! It is true that the silicone moulds doesn’t produce as much browning as the copper ones. I have tried returning them to the oven and baking the tops for 10 mins after flipping them out of the moulds – works just as fine!
Moulds aside, the recipe itself is surprisingly simple. After making them I wasn’t sure why some people were making such a huge fuss about the technique and resting and baking temperatures and all that.
It only needs a handful of fairly ingredients: eggs, sugar, whole milk, some butter, flour, vanilla pods and a dash of rum. I bought a bottle of Myer’s dark rum which has this incredible aroma that drifted across the kitchen while I was making the batter. I also replaced the vanilla pods with a teaspoon of vanilla paste, which should not affect the flavour too much.
The key is leaving the batter in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours. This allows the batter to better develop the flavour and texture. You’ll see that the batter would’ve thickened quite a bit after 48 hours from when you’ve first made the batter. The eggy flavour is also diminished and the rum really kicks in!
Canelés de Bordeaux
- Sift the sugar, flour and corn flour into a bowl and set aside.
- In a saucepan, add milk, vanilla paste and butter and heat on medium-low. Stir gently until the has butter melted and incorporated into the milk. The milk mixture should feel hot to the touch but not boiling.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks together with a whisk. Continue whisking slowly while pouring the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks. Do not whisk too much because you do not want to introduce too much air into the batter.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix until no lumps. The batter should be like a thick liquid. Add the rum and stir.
- Run the batter through a sieve to remove any lumps. Cover the batter with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for 24-48 hours. Give it a stir half way through.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the mould onto a baking tray. Melt a knob of butter and lightly brush the insides of the mould.
- Remove the batter from the fridge and give it a stir. Pour the batter (you may find it easier to use a ladle and a jug) into the mould, leaving 1cm space between the batter and the top of the mould. Bake at 200°C for 70 mins. It should be a rusty dark brown, with the edges almost black.
- Remove the mould and the tray from the oven. Quickly flip the mould upside down onto a cooling rack. The canelés should slide out from the mould. Leave to cool to room temperature before serving.
- Should the tops of the canelés not be dark enough, return to the oven and bake at 200°C for another 10 mins.