Canelè recipe

Posted on June 4, 2013

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There is going to be a longer prelude than usual, so bear with me.

It was a good friend of mine who introduced me to the canelè. She took me out for dinner at Bistro Vue (430 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC) many many moons ago, well before it expanded into the former Vue de Monde venue, and was raving about this little ‘cake’ they served with their tea/coffee at the end of the meal. So while the dinner and dessert was excellent, I was secretly looking forward to my final sweet treat. Finally, the canelè arrived with my coffee and it was love at first bite.

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It may not look like too much, actually it rather looks like a fried dim sim, but this caramalised baked custard treat is as simple as it is divine. The humble canelè originated in Bordeaux and is traditionally baked in copper moulds greased with natural beeswax. The result is a crisp caramel crust protecting a sponge like vanilla and rum custard centre. Possibly my favourite French custard. Which is saying a lot, given that I adore cremè brûlée and love love love cremè caramel.

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Ever since my first canelè, I knew I wanted to recreate them in my own kitchen and have even considered buying copper moulds to achieve this feat. However I gave that up after discovering the prices for them (last seen at ~$25USD each online). In my first few attempts at canelè, I just baked the custard in regular cupcake moulds. Obviously that meant I didn’t get the pretty shape and extra crusting surface area from the ridging of a canelè mould, but I did get a decent crust and the result was pretty good for a home effort. For that, I must thank Clotilde from Chocolate & Zucchini’s recipe.

The results then spurred me to buy the silicon moulds. I’m not sure where you can get these in Australia because I ordered mine from Amazon in the States and had a family member bring it to me. A few observations about these silicon moulds; they are spaced pretty closely together and I suspect that is what prevented me from getting an even crust on all my canelès. The canelès positioned along the perimeter of the mould developed a crust along the outer rims where they had good circulation of heat, but canelès in the centre and the inner sides of the outer canelès did not form a crust (the below picture might make more sense). To get more even crusts next time, I’m thinking about cutting my mould up into 15 individual pieces, or at the very least into strips of 3.

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Also, my silicon mould came with instructions advising that the maximum cooking temperature should not exceed 230°C. Clotilde’s recipe calls for baking at 250°C for the first 20 minutes. As a compromise, I baked my canelè at 230ºC fan forced for about 40 minutes before turning the heat down to 200°C in the last 10 minutes of cooking. The below recipe will reflect this change from the original, as well as a couple of minor tweaks to the method.

In spite some of the above problems with the silicon moulds, I’m pretty happy with the outcome. The ones that developed good caramalisation look pretty close to the real deal. Of course they will never compare to the ones made in the traditional copper moulds, because silicon doesn’t conduct heat, but they’re good enough for now. It’s worth making these just for how it will perfume your house with a delightful mixture of vanilla custard and rum!

The recipe requires the custard batter to be made at least a full day in advance before baking. One last thing; as with most custards, there is a risk of scrambling the eggs if you’re not careful when mixing in the hot milk, but this could be saved by straining the mixture to get rid of tiny lumps of cooked eggs. This only works for very minor mistakes – it will not save a curdled custard!

RECIPE – Canelè (makes ~18 canelè, each canelè at 60mL capacity)

Original recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini

Ingredients:

  • 500mL milk
  • 30g butter
  • 1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 100g plain flour
  • 180g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 80mL rum

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan place butter, milk and vanilla on medium heat and bring to a simmer (if using vanilla pod, split pod and scrap seeds out then place vanilla pod and seeds into mixture). Turn off heat once butter has melted and allow mixture to stand for 5-10 minutes to cool slightly. Remove vanilla pod from mixture if it was used.
  2. Meanwhile in a mixing bowl whisk eggs well.
  3. Add sugar, flour and salt into the eggs, but do not mix to combine yet. Pour in milk then stir with whisk to combine well.
  4. Lastly stir in rum and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate batter for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
  5. When ready for baking, preheat oven to 230°C fan forced. Remove batter from fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
  6. The batter will have separated a bit so stir well with a whisk to combine again. Pour batter into moulds. If using metal cupcake/dariole moulds, you will need to lightly grease moulds with a flavourless oil* (see note below).IMG_6660
  7. Place into a hot oven and cook canelè for ~40 minutes on 230°C fan forced then reduce heat to 200°C and cook for 10 minutes. The total cooking time should be about 50 minutes. Do not open the oven door in the first 30 minutes (this will cause the temperature to drop and disrupt the caramalisation process), but monitor the canelè and adjust oven temperature to ensure a golden brown crust develops without burning.
  8. Once cooked, allow canelè to cool in mould before demoulding (or is it unmoulding?).
  9. Store in an airtight container. These will keep for a couple of days, but the crust will soften. To reconstitute, place into a hot oven (200°C) for 5-10 minutes.IMG_6663

These can be eaten whenever you want, I think in France they were even consumed at breakfast. The presence of rum in the canelè also make it a good treat to serve with alcohol. It’s a highly versatile treat. I just love their unabashed simplicity. Cooking doesn’t get much more elegant than this – taking ordinary ingredients and turning them into a treat for your senses.

*Clotilde suggests greasing metal moulds with butter, however I find the taste of butter a bit too overwhelming in the finished product. This is of course a personal preference.

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