From Bordeaux with love: all about the delicious canelé

Canelé

We have a confession to make.

We have been to France numerous times, since we live in Belgium which is literally next door.

You name a couple of typical French desserts and pastries, tried them all.

Profiteroles, eclairs, madeleines, tarte tatin, palmier, millefeuille, croissant

But we had never tried a canelé before.

Up until now, last time we were in Paris we visited a fabulous boulangerie called Maison Bergeron near the Eiffel Tower.

Not sure why we put it off for so long, because canelé is delicious!

What about you, have you ever tastes one before?

What is a canelé?

A canelé (French: [kan.le]) is a delightful French pastry that combines the richness of rum and vanilla with a soft, tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust.

Its distinctive shape resembles a small, striated cylinder, standing up to five centimeters in height, with a charming depression at the top. Originating from the region around Bordeaux in southwestern France, canelés are now widely available in pâtisseries both in France and abroad.

Imagine a handheld version of crème brûlée, and you are close to the delightful experience of savoring this French treat from Bordeaux!

Canelé

What does a canelé taste like?

A canelé is a delightful French pastry that combines the richness of rum and vanilla with a soft, tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust.

Imagine a handheld version of crème brûlée, and you are close to the delightful experience of savoring a canelé!

Who invented the canelé?

The canelé is believed to have originated either in the 15th or 18th century at the Couvent des Annonciades in Bordeaux, France.

Although there are different theories attempting to construct an even older history, they lack substantial evidence. Legend has it that the nuns from the local convents created them using leftover egg yolks from the winemaking process.

The modern word “canelé” comes from Gascon, which was spoken in Bordeaux and a large area of southwestern France until the 19th century. These delightful pastries have a rich history and continue to be cherished by pastry enthusiasts worldwide.

What is a fun fact about canelé?

Did you know that the name “canelé” is derived from the French word “cannelé,” which means “fluted” or “ridged”?

This name perfectly describes the pastry’s signature striated appearance, resembling the ridges of a small cylinder.

These charming little treats are not only delicious but also visually appealing.

Canelé

Why are canelé so expensive?

They can indeed be a bit pricey.

In Paris we saw them selling for a price ranging from 2 to 5 euros a piece.

There are several reasons behind their elevated cost.

1. Labor-intensive Process

Crafting canelés is a meticulous process that involves multiple steps.

The batter needs to rest for at least 24 hours, and the baking process requires precise timing and temperature control. Each one must be individually coated with a caramelized crust, which takes time and skill.

2. Specialized molds

Canelés are baked in distinctive copper molds with a beeswax lining.

These molds are expensive and require maintenance to ensure consistent results. The traditional shape and texture of canelés depend on these molds.

3. Quality ingredients

Authentic canelés are made of high-quality ingredients.

The custard center relies on vanilla beans, rum and milk. The outer crust is created by caramelizing sugar. Using premium ingredients contributes to the overall cost.

4. Small-batch production

Many pâtisseries make canelés in small batches to maintain the highest quality.

This limited production scale can drive up the price.

5. Skill and expertise

Achieving the perfect balance of flavors, textures, and appearance in canelés requires expertise.

Skilled pastry chefs invest time and effort to master this delicate pastry.

6. Exclusivity

Canelés are a specialty item that are associated with the French city of Bordeaux. Their relative rarity outside of this region adds to their allure and cost.

The combination of labor, specialized equipment, quality ingredients, and artisanal craftsmanship contributes to the higher price tag of these delectable pastries.

If you are curious to try making them at home, try out recipe right here!

Canelé

RECIPE

Canelé, a small French pastry with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust, is a delightful treat that originated in Bordeaux.

Here’s a classic recipe to create these little treats of heaven at home!

Ingredients

  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp (500 ml) whole milk
  • 1 ⅔ oz (50 g) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 whole eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 8 ¾ oz (250 g) icing sugar
  • 3 ½ (100 g) plain flour, sifted
  • 4 tbsp dark rum

Method

  1. Begin by preparing the batter a day ahead. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the milk, vanilla pod and seeds to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and add the butter, stirring until it melts. Allow this mixture to cool.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and icing sugar until well combined. Gradually incorporate the sifted flour into the egg mixture.
  4. Slowly pour the cooled milk mixture into the egg and flour mixture, stirring continuously. Add the dark rum and mix until the batter is smooth.
  5. Cover the batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. This resting period is crucial as it allows the flavors to infuse and the batter to achieve the right consistency.
  6. Preheat your oven to 240°C (475°F). Grease the canelé molds with butter thoroughly.
  7. Fill each mold almost to the top with the chilled batter. Place the molds in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 220°C (430°F).
  8. Bake for 10 minutes at the higher temperature, then lower the temperature to 180°C (350°F) and continue baking for another 50-60 minutes. The canelés should have a dark brown crust and a soft, custardy interior.
  9. Remove them from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before unmolding. They are best enjoyed warm, with the contrast of the crisp exterior and the soft center.

Achieving the perfect canelé requires patience and practice. The key is in the baking process, which gives them their signature crust and custardy heart.

Enjoy the process and the delicious results!

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