‘Cah-nuh-lay’: Crispy and deeply caramelised on the outside, custardy and gorgeously soft in the middle, canelés are a French pastry from Bordeaux. They’re made from a simple vanilla and rum flavoured batter which is rested overnight and baked in beeswax-lined moulds at two temperatures.
The perfect recipe for those looking to put their skills to test in the kitchen. These gorgeous little cakes from Bordeaux formed the basis of my latest culinary adventure.
They’re rarely seen in the UK, and having never actually sampled one before embarking on this personal challenge, I found it particularly fascinating and rather exciting. Given how insanely addictive they are, you’d expect them to be a staple treat, but alas I’ve learnt that they are less than straightforward, and can be a little temperamental. They take a relatively long time to make, don’t keep for long, and require a couple of specialist items in order to transform a simple batter into a glorious delicacy.
NOTE: The quantities in the recipe below will make just 6 canelé – this is intentional, as they need to be eaten on the day of making, you can scale up the recipe as required, and the individual moulds will literally cost you a small fortune. You can however prepare the desired volume of batter and bake them in batches.
For this recipe, you’ll need a couple of extra things which may not feature in the average kitchen:
Beeswax (100% natural)
50g unsalted butter
splash of vanilla extract or paste
125g golden caster sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
50g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp dark rum
Start by placing the milk, butter and vanilla in a pan over a low heat until combined, before setting aside to cool slightly and infuse.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and creamy. (I use a stand mixer with a balloon whisk).
Sift in the flour with a tiny pinch of salt.
Slowly whisk in the cooled milk mixture, followed by the rum.
Seal the batter in an airtight container and refrigerate for 24-48 hours to let it rest and relax.
To prepare the moulds, melt 40g beeswax and 60g butter together in a microwave (or pan).
Carefully fill the first canelé mould to the top with the liquid beeswax and butter mix, and then quickly pour it out into the next mould, before placing it upside down on a drying rack. Continue until all of your moulds are lined with a thin layer of wax.
Place a tray into the oven and preheat it to 230°C (non-fan).
Remove the batter from the fridge and give it a quick mix or shake to recombine.
Fill the moulds, leaving a 10mm gap at the top. You can weigh them to ensure consistency – My filled moulds weigh 110g.
Bake at 230°C for 10 minutes.
Without opening the oven door, turn it down to 160°C (non-fan) and cook for a further 60 minutes.
Place the canelés on a rack to cool down for at least 15 minutes before turning out.
You may find that you need to adjust the temperatures and timing slightly to suit your oven – they are perhaps one of the most temperamental things I’ve made to date. You’re looking for a clearly defined and deeply caramelised shell.
Note that the beeswax and butter mix is enough to line a lot of moulds, but it can be stored in a fridge until needed again. If you’re using a modern silicone canelé moulds, you may not need to line them at all, however the final result will be different and less amazing.
Twists, turnovers, straws – all so deliciously naughty and yet devilishly simple to make at home.
Every now and again I have moments where I look at something familiar, and wonder why I’ve never thought of having a go at making it for myself. Often the ubiquitous is simpler than you think. Some things just aren’t worth the effort, however these pastries most certainly are.
I find it so satisfying to transform a block of puff pastry into delectable treats. Naturally, they’re not going to be a healthy option, but at least they’ll be homemade and you’ll know exactly what’s gone into them.
Life’s too short to be making your own puff pastry, so don’t feel bad about using a shop-bought block or even splashing out a few extra pennies for the pre-rolled sheets for an even quicker turnaround.
Here’s a few options using similar ingredients.
Puff pastry (block, rolled or even your own homemade rough-puff)
Grated cheese (cheddar is nice and tangy but feel free to experiment)
Dijon or English mustard
Seeds – black/white sesame or poppy (optional)
Tomato, sliced (optional)
Dusting of flour
Method 1 – Twists:
Roll out your pastry to about 3mm thick on a dusting of flour, or simply unfold your pre-rolled sheets.
Brush over a thin layer of mustard.
Top with grated cheese.
Lay down parallel strips of streaky bacon, leaving a little gap between.
Carefully cut between the bacon using a large knife to make equally sized strips.
Holding each end, confidently twist.
Place them onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up and help them keep their shape when cooked.
Brush the pastry with a little beaten egg.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 15-20 minutes until golden and crispy.
Method 2 – Turnovers:
Cut your rolled out pastry into even squares about 12cm x 12cm.
Brush with a thin layer of mustard (optional).
Add a couple of slices of tomato (optional).
Lay a rasher of bacon diagonally across the pastry.
Top with grated cheese.
Fold one corner into the centre and brush the exposed pastry with a little beaten egg.
Fold the opposite corner over to form the turnover shape.
Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle over a little extra cheese for good luck.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for about 20 minutes until the bacon is cooked and the pastry is golden and crispy.
If you’re adding tomato then please do note that it gets remarkably hot – make sure you let them cool down before tucking in.
Method 3 – Straws:
This is perfect for any offcuts or leftover pastry.
Simply cut your rolled out puff pastry into strips, brush with beaten egg and then top with grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of seeds.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy.
Open a beer.
Have a go at looking at the world differently. Question yourself and rise to the challenge.
For me, it’s going to be flatbreads next. I already know that they’re super-easy to make – easier than a normal loaf – yet somehow I’ve never had the confidence that my attempt would be as good as shop-bought.
I’ll admit that I didn’t think this one would turn out anything like as well as it did. Thankfully it was well worth the gamble.
Spare aubergine that I bought for no other reason other than it looked shiny – tick.
Block of puff pastry in the freezer – always.
This is a spin on a beautiful Spanish Aubergine Stew we adore devouring with tapas and a bottle of Rioja.
1 small Aubergine (Eggplant)
½ Courgette (Zucchini), sliced
1 Onion, sliced
2 Celery sticks, diced
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
Salt & Pepper
1 Egg, beaten
Cut the aubergine into 2cm cubes, fry it off in plenty of olive oil and set it aside.
In the same pan, soften the onion, celery, garlic and courgette. Add the fried aubergine, passata and a scattering of oregano. Season and cook it down until nicely thickened – it mustn’t be too wet as the pastry won’t be very happy with you.
Roll the pastry out to about 5mm thick, cut to the desired size and score borders. Pile on the filling, top with grated gruyere cheese, and brush the edges with beaten egg.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for about 15 minutes.
Serve with rocket salad and perhaps that glass of Rioja.