Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Canele / Canneles - French Pastries - What's the big deal ?

That's the question I've been asking myself for far too long. We've been producing an 18 cell mini canele / cannele silicone bakeware mould for a couple of years now and it's proved really popular. I'll be totally honest - when we first introduced it, I didn't KNOW what the darn thing was for.... but it did produce some pretty cute chocolates.

I got an email from someone - I don't know who - I think it was an American lady named Yvonne (or Anne ? - please excuse me that's the two names stuck in my head !).... who kindly informed me of Caneles and the traditions of making them in classic copper molds.

There are various spellings that are used for this relatively unknown French pastry. Canele, cannele appear to be the most popular.

Wikipedia says : "A canelé is a small French pastry with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust. The dessert, which is in the shape of small, striated cylinder approximately two inches in height, is a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France but can often be found in Parisian patisseries as well. Made from egg, sugar, milk and flour flavored with rum and vanilla, the custard batter is baked in a mold, giving the canelé a caramelized crust and custard-like inside."

Due to massive customer request, we decided to put a larger canele / cannele mould into production. The 8 large canele silicone bakeware mould is a brand new addition to our range. It's been sitting on my kitchen table for about 2 weeks now - BEGGING me to make caneles - the thought of which I found rather daunting.

There are loads of sites telling you that to make decent caneles you need to use copper molds and coat them inside with a white oil made with beeswax. You also need to make the batter at least a day before hand as it needs to sit in the fridge for 24 hours before you bake your delights.

On top of that - there is a high cooking temperature. These little cakes cook at higher temperatures than I've ever heard cakes being cooked at before. The high temperatures ensure a dark crispy and chewy crust which SHOULD enclose a moist custardy interior.

I've looked at lots of photos and read lots of websites. I've bit my nails (actually - that's a lie....) - but I did worry about it quite a bit. I really did envisage these going horribly wrong. Afterall - these are sacred of French patisseries and sit alongside macarons. I feared they'd turn out hideous and be a real devil to master.

The reality is that it really couldn't have been easier and I was in for a pleasant shock !

I eventually chose this recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini Blog which you find by following the link. Clotilde uses silicone moulds and omits the beeswax coating. She also includes a whopping amount of rum ! Actually - this makes them simply delicious and they are not at all "strong. I'm sure most of the alchohol burns off during the long cooking time and high temperatures.

You make your custard base the day before you want to cook it - and although it sounds hard to mess up - it was a very easy process. The milk and vanilla is brought to a simmer, then the rum is added. This is then poured hot onto flour, sugar and eggs and quickly whisked together. Leave to cool and refrigerate 24 hours.

This mix filled an 8 cell cannele silicone mold and left enough to additionally fill 12 of the 18 cells in a mini canele silicone mould.

The large ones went into my fan oven at top temperature of 230deg, which was turned down after 20 mins to 200deg C for a further 35mins. The mini caneles cooked at 200deg for 30mins. Both (in my opinion) were perfectly done. There were a breeze to remove from the moulds when cooled.

I'd guess one large canele is approx the same volume as 4 small ones. The smaller ones had more crust in relation to spongy soft custard but were also delicious. Given the choice, the large version are definately my preference. Perhaps it's the fact I'd feel less guilty about eating one or two large ones than I would 4 to 8 small ones !!!???!!

I couldn't wait until these were totally cool and samples a large one luke warm straight after these photographs. After cutting it in half, it was screaming at me to eat it... so I just had to oblige.

Well - was the hype worth it ? Most definately. I've never eaten ANYTHING quite like it before and I'm sure no other cake or pastry would compare. The outside is a rich carmelised crust that is both chewy and crunchy. The inner is a spongy moist custard flavoured with rum (I used Bacardi). It's slightly sweet and surprisingly light in both weight and texture. It's far easier to make than you are likely to imagine.

You know now that you'll just HAVE to make them......

Have fun baking !

Sarah-Jane Nash, munching a canele with coffee - July 2010


  1. I'll certainly take you word for it, that these caneles are very tasty, they do look weird though. I guess I'm not used to seeing anything like it. Maybe I need to get out more :D

  2. Your caneles look remarkably perfect for a beginner. Congrats.

    Clotilde's recipe is a good one. I believe you will get even better results by using the beeswax and butter mixture.


    I often use your 18 cavity black silicone molds.

  3. The soft custard centre and caramelised crust sound like a gorgeous combination of textures and flavours! Just looking at those photos is making me hungry :)

  4. Eve - you should give these a go sometime. I'd never seen one never mind eaten one before I tried making them myself. I think these could get addictive !

    Gil - was it you that originally emailed me re caneles ? Phillymarketcafe sounds very very familiar ! I'm very pleased with my first time results and will definately make them again. I have already bought the beeswax and was intending using it on the moulds - until I saw on Clotilde's blog that she doesn't bother... Next time - I'll do half and half and see the difference

    Cosmic Goddess - these are so different from any other food experience I've ever had. ON day two (today) they were soft and rubbery. Yuck. However, shoved in the halogen oven (fan oven would be ok too) they crisped up nicely again and tasted pretty much as good as they did yesterday.

    Thank you all for your kind comments :-)

  5. Oh wow wat a delicious post, custard with rum am in to it :D


I hope you have enjoyed my blog and found it useful. Please do leave any comments you may have - your feedback is much appreciated. Thanks for visiting !