Smooth, sweet soft custard centre cakes with vanilla, brandy and caramelised crust – this delicacy from Bordeaux is one of my favourite luxuries. I simply can’t eat just one. Absolute heaven with a strong coffee, wine or even champagne, I have also seen it incorporated in mini form into desserts.
The origins of this little beauty remain unclear although some romantic tales date it back to the 18th century from the Convent of Annonciades. However it was created, it has certainly undergone centuries of refinement to make the superlative cake it is today.
You will need special dariole moulds to make this recipe. The best moulds are individual tin lined copper ones which transfer heat to the surface of the canelés efficiently. However, they are hard to find and are very expensive. Instead I use silicon moulds. I hope you will agree the end product looks and tastes amazing.
Traditionally, beeswax is used to line the moulds to prevent burning of the surface of the canelés. My solution to the impracticalities of this (a suggestion from a kind friend) is to use clarified butter. To clarify butter, simply warm butter in a milk pot and allow the milky sediment to separate and sink to the bottom. Pour out the clear butter from the top into a container while carefully leaving the sediment behind in the pan.
3 cups (7500 mls) milk
Beans from 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp butter
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks, beaten
5 tbsp golden rum
1.5 cups (375 mls) plain flour
1.5 cups (375 mls) light brown sugar
Clarified butter for greasing
Prepare the custard 1 day in advance. Combine the milk, butter and vanilla in a pan then bring them to the boil. Let the mixture cool for a short while. In the meantime, combine the sugar and flour in a bowl, then whisk in the eggs and egg yolks. Pour this mixture into the hot vanilla-infused milk and gently stir it in until the resultant custard forms a pancake-like batter. Allow it to cool then mix in the rum. Transfer it to a china bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
The following day, preheat the oven to 250C/495F. Liberally grease the lining of the moulds with the clarified butter then coat the greased insides of the moulds liberally with sugar. Gently shake out the excess sugar. Place the moulds on a baking sheet. Pour the batter into each mould, filling them to no more than about 90% to the top. Place the filled moulds with the baking sheet into the oven. After 5 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 175C/350F and continue cooking for 60 to 75 minutes. The canelés are ready when the tops form a brown crust but are still moist inside.