Making canelés doesn’t have to be complicated. When you begin, I highly suggest you use a mini silicon mold, forget about coating it, mix the batter, and bake them. This will give you a sense if this pastry is one you want to spend more time and energy on, especially since these little babies are not easily found here in the US. If, like me, you get obsessed, here is my recipe and step-by step instructions for making canelés. It’s a long post so get ready to get into the details.
There is some required equipment if you are making canelés at home. First, you’ll need molds. There are three choices, copper canelé molds (tinned interior), aluminum molds or silicon canelé cavity molds. I use copper and and silicon. I love the copper Mauviel, but they are pricey. The cost of one copper mold (available here) will more than pay for an 8 large cavity mold (available here) or 15-18 small cavity silicon mold. I currently have 6 copper molds and one freshware 8 cavity mold. I hear that DeBuyer makes the best silicon molds, but I haven’t used them, so I can’t say. My silicon works fine. And if you do get the copper molds, remember that they need to be seasoned before the first use. I followed Paula Wolfert’s instructions here. I haven’t used aluminum, so I can’t speak to their performance. I know people consider them more affordable than the copper, but they are still around $10 each, way more than silicon molds, and I’ve read varying reports on their performance. For my money, I stick with copper.
I like to start by making my batter. It needs to rest overnight (or several hours) before you plan on using it. Then I prepare my molds. This recipe makes uses all 6 of my copper molds, or all 8 of my silicon. It is easily doubled. Since the batter holds well in the fridge, and they taste best the day they are made, I like to bake just a couple at a time over a few days.
1 cup whole milk
2 tblsp butter
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tblsp sugar
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tblsp dark rum
pinch of salt
Put the milk and butter together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Take it off the heat and let it cool down.
Beat the egg and yolk together in a cup, and then stir it into the flour mixture. It is very important to use a fork or spoon for the mixing. If you use a whisk you will add incorporate extra air into the batter and your canelés will really puff up while baking. Next, add the milk mixture slowly, stirring constantly. The batter should be thin and lump-free, like crepe batter. Stir in the vanilla and rum.
You’ll see the batter foam a bit. This is normal.
Most french recipes will have you strain this batter just in case your milk was hot and you scrambled any of the eggs. You can feel free to strain if you like. I never do.
Cover the batter with plastic wrap and let it hang out in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
When you pull out the batter the next day, stir gently to make sure the batter is a uniform consistency.
Why do you need to rest the batter at all? Why can’t you just bake it straight off? Good question, and one that I had myself. So I baked one using fresh batter, right next to one using day old batter. The difference in texture is huge.
|The canelé on the left was baked from fresh batter, on the right was after the batter rested in the fridge overnight.|
The white oil is made by mixing equal proportions of food grade beeswax and clarified butter. I just buy ghee. Some bakeries use just beeswax or just butter. For this recipe, I used 1 oz of each.
clarified butter in a mason jar.
Get your silicon brush and oil ready to coat.
Using an oven mitt, take out your warm molds one at a time.
Paint a thin coating of the white oil inside each copper mold, and inside each cavity of the silicon mold. Set upside down on a paper towel for excess to drain.
When you turn them over, just wipe the edges and you have all of your molds ready to go.
Once cool, put the lid on the mason jar and pop the white oil in your fridge. Next time you need it, reheat the jar in a pot of wateron the stovetop again. You will get many batches out of that little jar.
Baking the Canelés
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Pour the batter into the molds straight out of the freezer, and bake for 20 minutes. I like to set the sheet pan right onto my baking stone. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and continue baking until the canelés are dark brown, about 45 minutes. The canelés are meant to be quite dark on the outside. Unmold the cakes, and cool before serving.
|Only when your molds are perfectly seasoned will the batter rise perfectly straight. Don’t worry if they start up baking lopsided or stick to the molds a little. Just use a toothpick to remove stuck on debris and wipe out your molds. Don’t use soap on your copper molds or you will lose the seasoning you took so long to get perfect.|
Sometimes your batter will behave unexpectedly in the oven. For a while a I had a major problem with crazy puffy canelés. At first I thought I was aerating the batter too much when I mixed it. Then thought it had to do with the batter not resting long enough, or not enough heat from my oven. I never figured out exactly why it happened (and still does occasionally).
If your canelés are puffing and you want them to settle down, you can take them out, let them settle, then put them back in the oven. It can be frustrating, because you may need to do it several times. This will make the fluting a little less defined and can also give you bumps or ridges on the sides, not to mention the time you waste babysitting them, but you won’t end up with the puffy mushrooms above. I’ll admit, I’ve done it, but I was frustrated the whole time and it doesn’t affect the flavor one bit.
When people ask me why I prefer copper molds, it’s because I simply do not get nearly as good or consistent results with silicon. At $20 each, copper molds are an investment, but they hold their fluting and shape so much nicer than silicon. So if you love the flavor or your canelés, but not how they look, you may want to invest in the copper.
With silicon or copper, there is an affliction that affects many bakers. It is when the bottom of your canelés (the top, once they are inverted) doesn’t get brown like the rest of the cake.
And the biggest problem facing newbie canelé makers, all the bad recipes out there. Like macarons, canelés require an intimate relationship with your oven, so you may fail several times before you are happy. I still find my own have inconsistencies, even though I’ve lost count on the number of batches I’ve made. I tried a very reputable cookbook in my experimental phase. Everything looked good except the baking instructions said to bake them for 1 hour at 350 F. Thinking I should give the recipe a chance (even though I am a proponent of the start high, then lower the temp club) and tried it their way. Behold the results. Maybe it’s because I don’t have convection, who knows, but the recipe didn’t work at all for me.
What do you think? Have you tried making canelés? Any tips or good recipes out there I should try?