Cannelés. The sheer thought of these little delicacies makes many food enthusiasts shudder and collapse in a heap at the edge of their kitchens in utter most fear.
It was a disaster! I will never make them ever again! They are far too difficult!
So many of them have confessed their concerns on their expertise level and here I am telling you that, actually, they are not as fussy as they are usually made out to be. You can definitely make these. I have this theory that when a person (a) doesn’t want other people stealing their thunder, and (b) wants to demonstrate how incredibly amazing they are, they go right ahead and proclaim to the world that they have achieved something that few people can or ever will, that they have mastered the art of a field that simply cannot be mastered (unless they’ve spent 30 years in Bordeaux under the watchful eye of Chef Boulanger). But, the thing that makes me wince the most is that some of such persons believe themselves to be a part of a highly niched group of elite individuals who have the authority to go around telling anyone trying to make cannelés that their attempts have been absolutely feeble, they ought to give up, or to basically tell them that they are just not talented enough. I call these people the put-me-downs. Trust me, I’ve had and seen plenty of them.
I got quite a few comments about a couple of my first attempts that I did share on Instagram. However, put-me-down feedback tends to lack constructiveness, and it has had me unjustifiably doubting my cooking skills. But to all nay-sayers, I say Be Gone! When it comes to baking adventures, sure, they may go awry, but that is all part of the fun. Plus, how can anybody get something as delicate as cannelés right from the first time? Therefore, dear readers and fellow experimenters, do not let anybody put you down with negativeness, and play around as long as you have to. At the end of the day, cooking is all about the process, and if you love your creations, then keep on loving them, no matter what others may say.
Granted, it will most probably take you a couple of times to get them exactly how you like them and I mean, if they fail the first time, so what? Just remember: it does not mean that you are a terrible cook or a horrific baker. You will get it, just hold on and keep trying! Your creations at the end of each experiment will still be delicious so no need to waste them. It took me four attempts before I got exactly what worked for me.
There are a couple of things I have noticed on my cannelé adventure:
Oven and temperatures
I have found that the oven is the most crucial part of making cannelés. So my number one tip is to ensure that you know your oven. I know my oven’s limits and quirks and have been able to adapt recipes in order to ensure that anything I make comes out the way I want it to. Also, when making cannelés, you have to ensure that your temperature is HOT! My oven is fan-assisted and only goes up to 250ºC (490ºF). If your oven can reach a temperature of 290ºC (270ºC fan-assisted) 550ºF, then do it. This ensures that the outer part of the cannelés form a lovely crust.
Freezing the moulds
The second point that needs to be addressed is that the moulds NEED to be very cold before you fill them with the batter and place them in the oven. And when I say very cold, I mean placed in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before using. You can thank me later 😉
Now this is a tricky one. I have found recipes calling for the cannelés to be cooked for 1 hour on average, start to finish in the oven. I am so glad I have a backdoor to my kitchen because let me tell you, I nearly set my flat on fire. The worst part? The cannelés came out like charcoal bricks. Luckily, Djamo likes the taste of burnt food (apparently it’s a thing?). Some ovens will happily let you bake this confectionary for 1 hour and still come out perfect. But I cannot do that in my oven. Also, I get the impression that some people really think that these guys are supposed to be burnt on the outside, but in reality, they are suppose to be caramelised. Dark? Sure. But definitely not burnt. Of course, this goes back to my number one point: know your oven. I cannot stress that enough. I learn from my mistakes, and I have come to understand that the maximum amount of time my cannelés need in the oven is 30 minutes tops. Anything more, and its literally gonna be barbecued.
Moulds and seasoning
I highly recommend the copper moulds for making these beauties. However, I have heard that the silicon ones work quite well and you can even buy aluminium ones, too. The copper ones, in my opinion, are the best ones to buy and even though they are not cheap, they will last you a lifetime. Don’t forget, there are so many more things besides cannelés you could make with them, if you put your imagination to it. Think mini cakes, custards, pannacotta, chocolate mousses, etc.
When you first buy copper moulds, you will definitely need to season them. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC) 350ºF. Wash the moulds in soapy water, dry them and then coat them with vegetable oil and bake them for 1 hour, with the open ends facing up. After 1 hour, turn them over and bake for a further 15 minutes, after which you turn the heat off and let them cool completely inside the oven. They are now ready to use.
Gooseberry and Elderflower Cordial
Cooking time: 20 minutes, plus overnight (30 minutes in the oven)
Makes: approximately 750ml
800g gooseberries, tailed and topped
1 vanilla pod
8 heads of elderflower (substitute with 2tbsp st. germain elderflower liqueur)
Place the sugar and water together in a saucepan along with the vanilla pod. Allow to come to a boil over a low heat until a thick syrup is formed. Add the gooseberries and cook for a further 10 minutes until the gooseberries are soft and begin to break. Turn off the heat and add the elderflower heads and infuse until desired flavour is reached (5-10 minutes).
Pour the syrup into a sieve covered in a clean tea towel over a large bowl and leave to permeate overnight. Note: do not worry if it has the consistency that is quite similar to jelly, it will dissolve in water. Place in clean, sealable bottles or jars and use as needed. Once opened, store in the refrigerator and use within 2 weeks.
Cooking time: 2 minutes
Makes: enough to coat 18 moulds
This oil imparts a wonderfully honey scent to everything it coats. I just love it. If you cannot get hold of beeswax to make this white oil, simply coat the interior with melted butter .
3tbsp foodgrade beeswax pellets
15tbsp canola oil
Place the pellets and oil into a saucepan over a low heat. Stir until just melted. Pour the white oil into a mould, coat and pour out the oil. Repeat with the other moulds. Note: I only have 6 moulds, so I simply do this in stages. Place in freezer until needed.
Gooseberry and Elderflower Cannelé
Cooking time: 10 minutes plus 2 day resting time
Makes: 18 cannelés (4.5cm diameter)
1tbsp ground vanilla
500ml whole milk
50g melted butter
100g + 2tbsp plain flour
250g caster sugar
7-8tbsp gooseberry and elderflower cordial
2 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon
1tbsp st. germain elderflower liqueur (elderflower syrup can be substituted)
1/4tsp cointreau (1tsp of orange zest can be substituted)
pinch of salt
150g white chocolate
zest of 1 lemon
1-2tbsp gooseberry and elderflower cordial
Place the milk into a saucepan with the vanilla. Allow to come to a boil and take off the heat, allowing it to cool slightly. Meanwhile, mix the sugar, eggs, salt, zest of lemon and melted butter together in a large bowl. Pour the hot milk, a couple of tablespoons at a time in the egg mixture, whisking continuously until fully incorporated. Whisk in the flour, along with the cordial, elderflower liqueur and cointreau. When a smooth batter is formed, wrap the bowl in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
When ready, preheat the oven to 270ºC (250ºC fan-assisted) 490ºF (if your oven can reach 290ºC/550ºF then this would be better).
When the oven reaches the right temperature, tablespoon the batter into the prepared moulds and fill up until there is only 1/2cm from the top. Place into the oven on a baking tray covered in parchment and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven, reduce temperature down to 180ºC (160ºC fan-assisted) 350ºF and continue to bake for a further 20 minutes or until dark and caramelised on top.
Take them out of the oven and removed from the moulds and place on a cooling rack. I just tap them out of the moulds or simply use a skewer, if required. Cool completely.
Eat as is, else melt the white chocolate with the cordial and pour over the cannelés and allow to dry. Grate some lemon zest over the top and serve.
Thank you for reading.