A Cannelé is a small French pastry with a soft, custard centre and a dark, caramelised crust. Modern versions are cooked using special moulds, ideally made from copper that are sort of a circular shape with a scallop-edge. This shape is widely thought to come from the fact that the word Cannelé in French is very similar to the word “cannelure” which translates to corrugation (think of a classic Aussie tin roof).
The origin of the Cannelé dates back to 1519 when nuns from a Bordeaux convent started to make cakes from flour they’d found on the quay, rhum from the islands and egg yolk left over from winemaking because they used egg white to purify the wine so they would have a lot of egg yolk left over in Bordeaux.
The dish, which is a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France, is made from eggs, sugar, milk and flour, and flavored with rum and vanilla. Today, cannelés are so popular that they can be even bought at Bordeaux McDonald’s!
As you might assume, Cannelés are often served for dessert but mini versions also make the perfect canapé to serve with champagne at a cocktail soirée.
This dish can be a challenging one to make, as put too much mix in the mold and you will get oddly shaped muffins instead of delicate fresh pastries, or put your oven at the wrong temperature and your caramel will go too far (charcoal Cannelé, anyone?). However, the crusty exterior texture and the almost unexpected soft, “vanillary” inner make it worth all the effort!
- 1L full cream milk
- 2 whole eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 280g plain flour
- 475g caster sugar
- 50g unsalted butter
- 10cL rum
- 2 tbsps vanilla extract
- 2 vanilla beans
- Add the milk, butter, rum, vanilla extract and vanilla beans (seeds removed and placed to the side) all to a medium saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Turn the gas off when it starts boiling and leave on the stove to infuse for 15 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl add the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds. Whisk the eggs and sugar until the mix become slightly white.
- Reheat the milk mix in your saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to simmer, turn the gas off again to let it cool down just a little (the milk needs to be quite hot, but not boiling, when you pour it in as this will slightly cook the eggs, giving the Cannelés the perfect consistency)
- Add about 1/5 of the liquid to the mixing bowl with the eggs and sugar, while whisking.
- Whisk well, then add the flour, then whisk again and finally add the rest of the milk (by doing it this way you’ll avoid having lumps in the mix).
- Leave the combined mixture to rest in the fridge for 24 hours.
- While the mix is finishing its resting, grease the moulds with melted butter, put them upside down to get rid of excess butter, let it set and repeat the process one more time
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius. The Cannelés have to be baked at 2 different temperatures. The cooking starts at a high temperature to caramelise the outside, then lower to cook the inside.
- For a 5cm high cannelé mould, fill the mould with mixture up to the 4cm mark, and no more. Filling the Cannelé moulds precisely is critical to the success of the finished product.The cannelé mixture will rise in the first stage of the cooking process and if the mixture rises above the lip of the mould it will get stuck and you’ll end up with a “rustic” looking cannelé muffin instead.
- Place the Cannelé into the oven and cook at 250 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes, then lower temperature to 200 degrees Celsius and cook for another 35 minutes.
- Take the Cannelé out of the oven and unmould them straight away and place them on a cooling rack, leaving to rest for 2 hours before tasting.