I L-O-V-E French pastries and can’t walk by a patisserie in Paris without practically drooling at all the beautiful little works of art displayed in their windows. There is a reason the French phrase for window shopping “faire du leche-vitrines” translates to “licking the windows.” Seeing spectacular displays of luscious little sweets makes a person want to do just that!
Most of the French pastries on display are beyond successfully making at home (in my opinion, anyway) but there are several of the less decorated ones that I have tried in the past and will most definitely try to make in the near future. I started with macarons and after half a dozen attempts managed to produce (most of the time) lovely little domes with the required “feet” around the bottom. They turn out well often enough to keep me hooked on making them. They are tricky and, just when you think you have it all figured out, a batch bombs and there is nothing you can do but toss them. But when I get it right, I want to jump up and down for joy right there in my kitchen.
Canelés de Bordeaux are French bakery confections, little fluted cakes with a soft, custardy, rich rum and vanilla interior enclosed by a thin caramelized shell. I’ve purchased many of them from Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse to a little local patisserie close to where I live and they have become one of my favorite French pastries. I longingly looked at the little copper molds when I was in E. Dehillerin but decided they were way too expensive an investment for something that might not work in my own kitchen. I took a chance on a silicone mold and can honestly say that I’m thrilled with the results and don’t find the canelés baked in it lacking in any way. This recipe is for the little cakes baked in silicone and you will have to do some research if you have metal molds and want to use them. Having to brush the interior of the molds with beeswax was enough to push me in the direction of the silicone which doesn’t require any prep work at all.
You can find lots of blog posts about canelés if you Google it and almost all are basically the same: flour, sugar, milk, butter, eggs, vanilla and rum. They vary a little bit in baking techniques and in my experience this way works the best. Mix together the ingredients with a large spoon or spatula, don’t whisk. Refrigerate the batter for 24-48 hours, stirring occasionally, then pour the cold batter into the molds, filling to 1/4-inch from the top. Put the molds on a metal tray BEFORE you fill them.
Heat oven to 450F for about 30 minutes. Bake canelés for 15 minutes at 450F, then reduce heat and bake at 350F for 1 hour. They will develop a very dark mahogany color which is what they are supposed to do. The first several times I made canelés I was afraid they were burning and took them out of the oven too soon. They will collapse if they are under baked. Many recipes say to unmold the canelés while they are hot but I had better luck letting them cool in the molds. They won’t stick to the silicone and there is less chance that they will collapse if they are cool before removing them.
The caneles puff up while they are baking and settle back down into the molds as they cool. They keep well for several days if stored in an air tight container. If you have canelé molds that have worked their way to the back of the cupboard because you have never used them now is the time to get them out in the bright light and make these delectable little French cakes. They are easy to make and are so delicious they will have you jumping up and down in your kitchen too.
1. Mix the ingredients together in the order given in the recipe. Don’t use a whisk to combine ingredients because it will incorporate unwanted air into the batter. This will cause the canelés to rise too much and slump over while they are baking…not what you want them to do.
2. Make the batter well ahead of time. It needs to rest in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours before baking. ( The longer the better) The rest helps to relax the gluten and to release any air bubbles that may have formed in the batter. This resting time also gives the flour a chance to expand and absorb the liquids in the batter. I refrigerate the batter in a large Pyrex measuring cup so I can pour it directly into the molds when I’m ready to bake.
3. Baking at high heat at the beginning helps form a protective coating that allows the canelés to rise and then settle back down into the mold. If you have any questions about your oven temperature this is a good time to check it.
4. Heat the baking sheet in the hot oven when you are ready to make the caneles. Place the silicone molds on top of the hot pan and fill to 1/4 inch of the top. DO NOT fill the molds and then try to move it onto the baking pan. It will collapse and you will have batter all over the everything. Yup, I did this and it was a mess.
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup rum
- In a small saucepan warm the milk, butter, vanilla and salt on medium heat until the butter melts. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes.
- Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl. Lightly whip the eggs with a fork and pour on top of the flour mixture. Pour the warm milk on top and stir all the ingredients together until the batter is smooth. Stir in the rum.
- Let the batter rest in the refrigerator, covered for 24-48 hours.
- When you are ready to bake the caneles preheat the oven to 480F. You will need a baking sheet or wire rack to support the silicone mold when it is filled with batter. Put this in the oven as it heats up. When the oven is hot place the silicone mold on the baking pan and fill the cups to ¼ inch of the top of the mold. Bake for 15 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 350F and bake for 1 hour.
- Let the canales cool in the mold before removing them.