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
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
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
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.
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.