Breaking Canelé Codes-1

I decided to update our heirloom book…

I need to catch up with my writing for the heirloom book that I

promised my daughter. This book will have a collection of recipes of food that

she likes. She insisted that it must have step-by-step procedures and photos.

Thanks to technology, I am able to do it. I decided to share some

thoughts about making canelé on this post.

A French dessert that we grew to like when we traveled to Bordeaux in 2009.

It has a crisp crust and a contrasting custardy center. Whenever I bake this,

the flavor of rum and vanilla infuse the whole house.

Preparing the batter for canelés is quite simple . It takes no more than

15 minutes. The tricky part is baking and preparation of proper molds.

Buying Canelé Molds

I use copper molds made by Baillardran, the famous canelé-maker

in Bordeaux, France. It is the trick to produce a genuine canele. I don’t believe in

substitutes.  I am an old-fashioned person who appreciates traditions and


Baillardran has shops in Paris and Bordeaux. If you can’t fly to France, you

can find canele molds in online shops. I also saw them at Sur la table. They sell

de Buyer’s silicone molds and metal canelé molds. 

Although silicone mold is easier to maintain, it does not make the crust as

crispy as the copper molds. The metal molds at Sur la table  are not the same

molds that I have. They feel very light to me. I can’t predict how they perform

 compared to copper molds.

I think copper molds are definitely a good investment if you love canelés. It

is a good decoration even if you don’t bake. I bought them first for souvenir, now

I put them for good use.

Treating Copper Molds

If you are using copper molds, you need to treat the molds before baking.

The traditional way uses food-grade natural beeswax. You may be able to find it

at a farmer’s market if there is a honey vendor or online. In Taiwan, you can find

it in Chinese herbal shops or probably shops selling baking supplies. When my

friend got hers, she even found some  “surprises" (bees) in the beeswax.

Put the empty molds in the oven along with the beeswax in an oven-proof

container. When the wax is melted, take the beeswax and molds out from the oven.

Pour the beeswax carefully and quickly into the molds by wearing oven

mitts (it is very hot!). Put the molds upside down to drip extra wax onto

parchment paper.

If they harden, put the molds back to the oven and do it again. You only

 need a very thin layer of beeswax in the molds. I always put my molds back

in the warm oven again to make sure that extra wax is removed. I wipe the

bottom of the molds to make sure there is not too much wax to create a canele

with white top after baking.  After the molds cool down, I put them in the

 refrigerator for about 20 to 25 minutes before baking.

You will also need to season the molds for the first time you use just like

any copperware or cookware. After that, I never wash my molds again with

any dish soap. To remove any burnt debris, use a toothpick or paper towel.



The ingredients are milk, sugar, butter, flour, vanilla bean, rum and eggs. I

 will discuss about each ingredient. I am not going to write down the recipe. Don’t let

this discourage you to continue to read. If you read it carefully, you should be able

to come up with your version. 

Everyone has a different opinion and taste on food. A recipe may work for

someone but not for you. To know how the ingredients will affect the results is

more important. 

All the ratios discussed below are in proportion to milk.


If you like milk, you can use whole milk. Since my family is not

crazy about it, I use organic fat-free milk, which works fine for us. Most French

canele recipes use 1 liter(1000 cc) of milk. I use 250 ml to make about 6 caneles.


I do not recommend sugar less than 40% of milk. I have seen recipes

containing more than this percentage. It is a personal preference. The madame

that we stayed with in St.-Emilion near Bordeaux uses this ratio. To us, it is just

the right sweetness.

Sugar is what makes the canelés caramelize on the shell and become

 dark black.

I use organic sugar that is infused with vanilla beans that I make myself

to enhance the flavor of the caneles.


For the caramel custard(or Spanish flan), some recipes use whole

eggs. Some use more egg yolks. This will affect the density of the custard.

Madame told me that the traditional canele is made with all egg yolks

because they use the leftovers from making wines. I use a mixture of both.

The percentage of eggs to milk also affects the texture of the caneles.

A recipe with more eggs will create a more custardy center.

I have noticed that Japanese and Taiwanese pâtissiers seem to prefer more

eggs than the French pastry chefs. Madame, who grew up in the Bordeaux area,

uses about 16% of milk, which is the same as the Lenôtre Pastry School in Paris.

Baillardran uses about 21.6%.  Japanese chefs use an even higher ratio than this.


The west and the east have a different preference on the type and quantity

of flour, too.

Japanese pâtissiers mostly use cake flour, while the French and the American

pâtissiers mostly use all-purpose flour. Madame only told me to use farine, which

means flour in French. I further asked if T55 is used, and she said yes.

Both Lenôtre Pastry School in Paris and Baillardran use 25%, which is the ratio

 of flour to milk, is much higher than the Japanese recipes. Madame even uses more


After reading about the amount of eggs and flour used, you can predict

 that Japanese recipes will create a more custardy interior than the French one.

As to what is more superior, it is a personal preference. There is nothing right or

wrong in my opinion. 


I only use 5% of butter. Both Lenôtre Pastry School in Paris and Ballardran

use 10% of butter to milk ratio.

Vanilla Bean

I use half of the bean for 250 ml milk.


I use Myers’s rum. Baillardran uses 10%. I think it is too much. Between

3% to 5% is more reasonable. Of course, this is also a personal preference.

Well, it is time for tea. Let’s continue to break the codes of making canelés

in my coming post.


8 thoughts on “Breaking Canelé Codes-1

  1. 妳好!!

  2. What a thorough and detailed instruction, can’t wait to read the rest. You should publish a cookbook. I have two big ornate copper ring molds, wondering can they achieve the same result.

  3. Heirloom recipe book, this is precious(lucky girl)!!!

    I love canele(who doesn’t) but the operation always seems daunting… maybe I will start using silicone mold first and then when I become better, treating myself to the beautiful copper molds(little sculptures perfect for day dreaming 🙂

    ps. I have the feeling that your daughter will want the chef/writer to come along as a bonus of the heirloom recipe 😛

    • What a coincidence! You read her mind. She just told me tonight, mom, you are coming with me to college!

      I am quite slow in updating the book. She told me that it has to be very detailed to explain every step. Myabe 小V will ask you to make one for him. Your drawings are absolutely inspiring to me.

  4. Absolutely have nothing to say but endless thanks, dear Christina. I am yet to find my way and courage to secure a couple of copper canele molds. But with your detailed guiding, that day really is not far away from me anymore.

    Being your blog-readers, we are a lucky gang free-riding your lovely daughter’s fortune.


    • Go ahead and buy some molds. They are really not that difficult to make. Savoring freshly-baked caneles in the afternoon from your own kitchen is not far from reality. Besides baking toasts, you should have the courage to explore other bread and desserts.

      When I first got my copper molds, I thought they are good decorations even if I don’t use them. Those copper molds are really craftman pieces to enjoy for life. There are something to pass down through generations. I have the same feeling about my new copper cookware.


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