Canelés de Bordeaux

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

While the macaroon may reign supreme as the treat of choice by many a Parisian, head to the south-west and the colourful, candy biscuits are shadowed by their frilled, fluted counter-parts - the canelé. Encasing a vanilla and rum flavoured soft, doughy centre in a caramelised, distinctive shell, the canelé (also spelt cannelé) was created to feed the downtrodden of the city by an order of nuns in the sixteenth century from left over flour stored in trading ships docked the port of Bordeaux.  Its popularity has stood the test of time and now the little, lumpy treats can be seen on patisserie counters all over France.

A visit to Bordeaux wouldn't be complete without trying a vrai canelé so within hours of arriving I was searching where to go for the best canelés in Bordeaux; over and over again Baillardran would crop up in the search results and as luck would have it, once I'd navigated where we were within the labyrinth of little streets, I located a store just around the corner on the Cours de l'Intendance. Mr M and I bought two each and in 60 seconds flat all four were gone. Not possessing a sweet tooth as I do, the canelé is Mr M's favourite treat but for me is was my first, delicious introduction to what I've now declared the perfect snack; sweet without being sickly, filling without being heavy and its flavour combination of vanilla and rum is sophisticated without being moreish. Its shell gives a satisfying crunch while the centre melts like butter on the tongue. Not surprisingly we would visit three more Baillardran stores for more canelés in our short time in Bordeaux, including their bake-shop inside the Galerie des Grands Hommes, where you can watch the canelés being made and their little cart at the Gare Saint-Jean, perfect for picking some up before a train ride.

Two days after arriving home from our trip I checked the mail. I had received a postcard from Mr M that he'd sent me while away. I wasn't surprised, he does this quite often; escorts me into some high-street - crafting - souvenir store, leaves me there like a child at a crèche and sneaks off to mail me a postcard in secret. It's quite sweet. My postcard had the words "Dearest M, make some of these for me + the BLOG! x M" wedged between two recipes for canelés, one in French, the other in English.

So I did...

Canelés de Bordeaux
Adapted from a very awesomely 80s-styled postcard from 'Cart'image'.

Makes 10 medium canelés
**Please note, this recipe requires overnight refrigeration and baking time of one hour or more depending on the level of "burntness". It also requires the use of a special canelé mould found in most baking stores in France (specialty stores or online elsewhere). The individual copper and aluminum ones, available for purchase via the Baillardran site, are best however for this recipe I did use a silicon 8-mould sheet.

(French terms of ingredients are provided in brackets for those on this side of the world to more easily locate them in the supermarket).
+ 500ml full cream milk (lait entier)
+ 230g sugar (sucre)
+ 150g flour (farine)
+ 50g butter (beurre doux) + a little more for greasing
+ 1 vanilla pod (gousse de vanille)
+ 2 tbsp brown rum (rhum brun)
+ 2 egg yolks (jaunes d'ouefs)

Prepare the mix
On low heat melt the butter. Once the butter is liquid pour in the milk and bring to the boil. At the moment of boiling take it of the heat and pour into a very large bowl. In a small, separate bowl beat together the egg yolks. Drizzle the egg  yolks into the hot milk while whisking continuously to combine. Leave aside to cool.
Once the milk mix is close to room temperature, in another bowl combine the flour, sugar and rum well so there are little to no lumps. Slowly dust this mixture into the milk, stirring all the time to prevent lumps forming. To smooth out any that may have formed scoop them out with your whisk or a fork and squash on the side of the bowl with the back of a spoon and mix back into the liquid. Take the vanilla pod and make an incision down its length. Using the tip of your knife carefully remove the vanilla seeds and put in the mix, rubbing lumps of seeds with your fingers in the mixture to properly separate them. Once the majority of the seeds are out, pop in the vanilla pod, cling wrap the bowl and place in the fridge overnight.

Bake the canelés
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Take the mixture out of the fridge, remove the vanilla pod using a fork and leave out to bring to room temperature. Butter each mould. Whisk the mixture to stir up any sedimentary clumps and pour into each mould, leaving a little space at the top.
Should you wish your canelés "well done" - burnt outside and bread-like in the middle, bake for one hour and 20 minutes. If you'd like them a little under done - caramelised on the outside (as in the pictures) and custard-like inside, bake for one hour.
When finished baking, up turn the moulds and tip the canelés onto a tray to cool to room temperature - this is important, canelés are not traditionally eaten warm and the cooling process helps harden the crust.

Enjoy for breakfast with some strong black coffee, or for afternoon tea with a bit of thickened cream. Or, as the postcard recommends, as dessert with a sweet white wine such as Sauternes, Jurançon or Montbazillac.



  1. I am also an expat living in France thanks to my Italian passport. I just discovered your blog and am pleased to see you loved Bordeaux, as I actually live there.

    I love cannelés as well! Actually, the best place, in my opinion, to eat them is at La Toque Cuivrée. I don't like Baillardran because I find them quite pretentious and La Toque Cuivrée is much cheaper for the same thing. The glitch? La Toque Cuivrée is not located in the city centre. So that would explain why you didn't see them.

    I love everything about living in Bordeaux (except the high unemployment rate). It has everything going for it: the ocean, the food, breathtaking countryside, the wine, beautiful architecture. I could go on and on.

    You should get down to the Basque country as well.

    1. Hi Den Nation! Ah, what a shame I didn't find La Toque Cuivrée! Thank you for the recommendation, I will be sure to look them up for my next trip to the city. I really, really loved Bordeaux, you live in an amazing city. I've not yet been to the Basque, no, but it's definitely on the "to-see" list. xx