Bordeaux don’t only master wine. With an incredible flavor of rum and vanilla, cannelés, also known as cannelés bordelais as they come from Bordeaux, are among French most famous pastries.
They are easily recognizable by their flutes and their glossy and amber, almost dark brown, color. The crunchy caramelized crust make an exquisite contrast to the smooth, sweet filling, incredibly fragrant with rum and vanilla.
Among controversial origins, the most common story is that those fluted cakes were invented by the nuns of a convent in the 16th century, from one of their specialties, a fried pastry rolled around a tube called the canelot or canelat. The cylinder shape would come from this. They were even used to make these cakes using flour remains found in the port of Bordeaux, which was very active. Archaeological excavations in the convent have failed to find the so characteristic molds and confirm this origin.
To that opposes another version which I like better. Another treasure of the Bordeaux region is wine. A winemaking method (called bonding in French) uses egg whites to clarify and refine wine. Its use makes it possible to bring down to the bottom of the barrel suspended particles. There were lots or egg yolks leftovers. Associated with products that were easily found in the Bordeaux trade port, rum and vanilla, the recipe was gradually developed, to prevent from spoiling.
The word cannelé means fluted due to the circular grooves of the mold. However, we don’t know why the mold have this shape.
A brotherhood dedicated to cannelés, born in 1985, was relaunched in 2014 to protect and promote this delight. They are trying to establish the name with a single n, canelé. Who knows why.
The classic size is 6 cm high but the French nowadays tend to prefer little two-bite morsels as in this recipe, grabbed here and there, served with tea or coffee.
Préparation time: 15 min 12 to 24 hours in advance
Baking time: 40 to 45 min (time for the small version of cannelés)
Quantity: ± 30 (depending on the size of your molds)
Spécific equipment: mini cannelé pans (idéally copper, otherwise silicon) Eventually any deep mold such as mini muffin pans.
250 ml (± 1 cup) milk
30g (2 knobs) unsalted butter
1 vanilla pod
75 grams (±1/2 cup) flour
130 grams (±1/2 cup) sugar
1 whole egg (± 50 gr)
2 egg yolks (± 40 gr)
25 grams (± 2 tablespoon) dark rum, ideally aged rum
Beeswax if you use copper mold
If needed, refer to the conversion and measures article here
Heat the milk, add butter and vanilla. Mix together all remaining ingredients and add vanilla perfumed milk. Let it rest for 24 hours before baking.
Measure all ingredients first.
Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Cut the butter into small cubes and, with a sharp knife, split the vanilla pod lengthwise. Bring the milk to the boil. When it boils, add the butter and vanilla. Remove from the heat and stir.
In a bowl, mix the flour and the sugar. Then add the hot milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Then add the rum, the whole egg and two egg yolks. Mix immediately to prevent the egg from cooking as the preparation is still quite hot. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. The batter, provided it’s covered tightly, can be stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days. The resting time is important to develop the incredible rum and vanilla flavor of the cannelés.
The next day, remove the batter from the refrigerator 1 hour in advance and leave at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 220 °C (425°F). Remove the vanilla pod. If you have copper mold grease them with beeswax. This is not necessary if you use silicone molds. Fill the molds about 3/4 full and bake. After 5 minutes, lower the heat to 180 °C (350°F) and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes.
The baking time is given for mini cannelé pans (I use silicone molds as they are much convenient than copper molds. Mine are 3.5 cm high and 2.5 to 3.5 cm in diameter for the top and the bottom).
Wait until the cannelés get a nice amber color before removing from the oven. Remove from the molds while still hot.
It is said that cannelés must be consumed the day they are made otherwise they won’t be crispy anymore. I think they are still delicious the next day!
Tip: If you don’t have cannelé shape molds, you can use any deep molds (for instance muffin pans), whatever the shape may be. Depending on size, the baking time may be even longer.