It was on the narrow streets surrounding Quartier Saint Pierre in Bordeaux, France that I fell in love. Amidst the myriad of cheeses, silky beef bourguignons and the roast chicken riddled bistros, I found my one true significant culinary other. the canelé (alternate spelling: cannelés)
Made from a crepe like batter infused with vanilla and rum, then poured into copper cylindrical moulds and baked at fisson inducing temperatures, they are crunchy on the outside while custardy, soft and sensual on the inside.
It’s the pastry equivalent of taking you up in a hot air balloon, landing you in a forest full of flowers, and reading to you the funniest and saddest story in a voice as soft as rain. It is without doubt my most favourite, most lusted after confection.
And the best bit, amidst the glitz of macarons and pain au chocolats, is the absence of trimmings. The canelé is simple and earnest and while it might require beeswax, special fluted moulds and at times determination of uber-foodie proportions, I implore you to try them. For the diligent baker, the pay off is spectacular…
The copper moulds are difficult to get your hands on, but there is a silicon version available at specialty baking/kitchen stores that still offers a good result.
You will need to start this recipe one day ahead
500ml milk (full fat please)
2 1/2 tbsp butter, chopped
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped
100g (3/4 cup) plain (low-protein) flour, sifted
170g caster sugar
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (super fresh) lightly whisked
1/3 cup good quality rum
Combine the milk, butter and vanilla in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer, add the sugar and stir until dissolved then set aside. Add the rum.
Add the flour and salt to a bowl. Pour over the whisked egg and milk mixture, (remove the vanilla pod if you kept in the milk for flavour) and stir. Let cool to room temperature then add to a pouring jug, cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. (Some chefs leave the batter for up to 3 days).
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Butter the canelé moulds if they are made of copper (unnecessary if you're using silicon molds). Remove the batter from the fridge, it will have separated, so stir gently until well blended again. Pour the batter into the moulds until ¾ full. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200° C and bake for another 20 – 40 minutes (40 will result in a very dark brown caramel crust). Turn out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely before eating. Best eaten on the day of making.