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My Canelé Misadventures, Thus Far

Nine years ago, I started out with two sets of silicone canelé molds and an uncomplicated recipe that I had pulled off the internet (http://antioche.lip6.fr/portier/0507....). No beeswax, no greasing, no freezing--just mix the batter, chill a day, and bake in silicone. Simple. The results were pale in spots, crunchy in some places (though only for a couple of minutes out of the oven), but with delicious custardy-cakey interiors. As the canelés cooled, they started bending out of shape and developing a rather plasticine exterior. Since the results did not seem to hold sufficient promise, I put the molds and the recipe aside, assuming that to bake proper canelés I'd have to go the copper molds-and-beeswax route--and I wasn't masochist enough to fall for that one!

But there's no fool like an old fool, and I recently found myself forking over 60 Euro for a lovely box of 10 copper molds.

Which led to my wasting way too much time on the internet, looking up recipes, techniques, every what-not, and why-not about making canelés I could find. Having thoroughly addled the old gray matter, I then spent hours fiddling with beeswax and canola oil--beeswax in the microwave, beeswax in the oven, beeswax melted by kitchen-torch-- in an effort to lightly and evenly line the interior of the precious bleeping copper molds. (Did I mention that the resulting "white oil" had a tendency to suddenly coagulate on my silicone brush, so I ended up pouring and swirling the quick-drying beeswax in the molds?) When the coating got too thick on a mold, which was in 9 out of 10 of them, I'd put the mold in a warm toaster oven, which invariably resulted in an oily puddle at the bottom of the mold, necessitating another attempt at coating the interior before the oil turned to wax, which it would do quickly and abruptly. Eventually, I settled for far-from-perfect linings, put the molds in the fridge, and went to sleep.

Thanks to threads on this Board, and to links found on them, particularly http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/340907 and the e-gullet thread to which it led, I found a recipe attributed to Pierre Hermé (which turns out to be virtually identical to the one I used 9 years ago.) I also studied the Chow video, "The Perfect Canele": http://www.chow.com/stories/12156. Had Cynsa not told me a few days ago, I would never have known that souschef had been working on canelés at virtually the same time, with much more success (Hats off to souschef!), and posting on it on this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/719393.

So what did I do? A lot wrong, I think--and here I'd welcome comments and suggestions from the many hounds who are more accomplished bakers than I can ever hope to be. First, as in the video, I scalded 500 ml. of milk with a vanilla bean, which I immediately poured over 50 g. of cold butter in my blender. Finding that the milk was now just warm, I blended in, first, the 2 eggs + 2 yolks, then the 100 g. flour and 250 g. sugar mixture, and finally, the 15 g. rum. The mixture was a thoroughly combined, but frothier than I had expected--the blender container was very full. (I had theorized that a blender would eliminate any need to strain the mixture--yes, I am that lazy--and I hoped that the refrigerated rest period would get rid of any unwanted air bubbles.)

A day and a half later, after the molds had chilled for a couple of hours and the convection oven was preheated to a good 190C/375F, I placed the molds on a baking sheet, filled them, and popped them in the oven. I still had enough batter left over to fill around 15 of my old thimble-sized silicone canelé molds, which went into the oven around 15 minutes after the copper ones.

Since the baking time would be over an hour, off I went to the farmers market nearby, returning just before an hour was up to find--POPOVERS!!! Holy cow! My canelés had BALLOONED! A giggle escaped me just before the gasp of dismay. I reached for my kitchen fork and tried to poke the air out the soufflés, but it was too late. . . I let the disasters bake through the rest of the time, and removed them, a dark, glossy mahogany, from the oven. When I tipped them out of the molds, I found that the bottoms of the cakes were not only blonde, but seriously abbreviated! They had climbed halfway up the molds: it seemed like the batter had tried to heave itself out of its container. That night, I had a nightmare about canelés escaping their molds and running out of the oven to dominate the world :-

)

Proof of the pudding being in the eating, I'd have to say that the beeswax and the copper molds certainly gave me the shiny, crunchy exterior I had hoped for--just not in the right shape! And the recipe ingredients yielded a wonderful rummy, custardy deliciousness that can hold its own anywhere. Now if only I can get the next batches in the right shape, I shall be one happy chowhound!

Help, please, anyone?

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  1. For 2.8 oz molds the oven should be 475 convection for about the 1st 15-20 mins then 375 to complete cooking.

    Ballooning batter can result from too low a starting temperature. If your canele are growing too tall as they bake you can take them out and give them a poke or let them rest a just a minute to deflate. It's best to do this within the 1st 20 minutes. If you wait too long they will set up with an unfortunate shape and it can't be undone.

    I don't recommend baking canele unattended.

    http://phillymarketcafe.blogspot.com/...

    1 Reply
    1. re: gaetano

      Thank you! "Unfortunate" is a nice way to describe what I allowed to happen to the poor little dears :-) I shall try the higher temperature and watch more carefully next time round.

    2. pilinut, thanks for bringing caneles back into my consciousness--I tried them about 4 years ago. Liked that flavor/texture very much, enough to make another batch a few days later, then forgot about them 'til now. I used this recipe:
      http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archi...
      from Clotilde Dusoulier's blog "Chocolate and Zucchini".
      But no traditional molds-- I just baked them in a regular muffin tin! The middles stayed pale and the outside was dark and sweet.
      Of course now I'd like to try again with real molds (and a better brand of rum!) They are different enough, and tasty enough, (and so French!) to try even if you don't have the proper equipment yet.
      The picture I attach here is from the Chocolate and Zucchini site--beautiful little pastries, aren't they?

       
      1. Pilinut, thanks, but you give me too much credit. I did not achieve the custardy consistency you did,

        Mine did balloon out like soufflées (popovers), but if you leave them alone they settle down to about the level of the molds. I baked them at 400 degrees,

        Before I ditched the last of the batter I thought I would try baking them one last time at a higher temperature. My thinking was that I bake soufflées at 425 so that they are still soft in the middle, so I should try the same with canelés. I had nothing to lose as I was going to get rid of the stuff anyway. They puffed up and started to burn, so I took them out after an hour. They were still blond on the crown part. This seems to bear out the recommended 400 degree baking temperature.

        You paid only 60 Euros for a box of 10 copper molds!! That's a steal.

        One of the problems with these things I find is that panic quickly sets in, and you end up taking them out too soon.

        Here is the permalink to the relevant section of that thread to which you had linked, so you do not have to scroll through the entire thread:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7193...

        I am going to give your recipe a whirl and let you know here how it works out. Did you denude the vanilla bean, i.e. did you scrape the seeds into the milk?

        BTW you absolutely have to strain the mixture, through a very fine sieve. I got a bunch of solids strained out, but that of course could be because of the recipe.

        1. "When the coating got too thick on a mold, which was in 9 out of 10 of them, I'd put the mold in a warm toaster oven, which invariably resulted in an oily puddle at the bottom of the mold, necessitating another attempt at coating the interior before the oil turned to wax, which it would do quickly and abruptly."

          When you get the oily puddle would it not be best to just quickly turn the molds upside down, creating a thin coating ? The excess would run out.

          BTW where did you get those molds so cheap ? I WANT SOME !!

          4 Replies
          1. re: souschef

            Souschef, I did try quickly inverting the molds once when I found the wax had turned to oil, but the oil only ran down the grooves of the mold, leaving the edges of the grooves bare! I think that next time I will try keeping the unwaxed molds a bit warm, pouring enough wax to completely fill a mold, then pouring out the excess into the next mold. The wax will probably congeal before I get to the 3rd one, but (IF it works) that would still be vastly more efficient than my last attempt.

            I bought the copper molds from one of the Lemoine stores. Lemoine is a chain of around 5 or 6 canelé shops in France, and they sell the molds in 3 sizes as well as the cakes. However, they use a baking spray, not beeswax, and consequently their canelés are not nearly as good as the ones Fauchon used to make: Lemoine's lack that quintessential crunch. They do give you a recipe along with the box, but I compared it with the ones I got off the internet, and found that Lemoine's had much more sugar.

            I didn't know that steel molds exist, otherwise, I'd have been tempted to seek those out. (No complaints about my molds, though. If I ever master the techniques needed for good canelé, I might be tempted to buy another box of molds.)

            Oh, and I did split and seed the vanilla bean while it was in the milk.

            Good luck--and here's looking forward to reading about your next batch of canelés!

            1. re: pilinut

              Pilinut, are those molds made of lightweight or heavyweight copper? I have a BIL who lives in Europe and he is threatening to come here soon, so I may get him to pick up a set for me.

              1. re: souschef

                I'd say they're good quality mid-weight molds, i.e., you can drop them on the floor, squeeze them hard with tongs, and put them through most imaginable canelé misadventures without fear. Heavier ones probably exist, but I'd place those in the heirloom category. I don't know how Lemoine's prices compare with other possible outlets, but the prices seemed reasonable to me.

                I just checked, and they have a website:
                http://www.lemoine-canele.com
                and it seems they sell their canelés on-line. Though no mention is made of the molds in the on-line boutique, maybe you can e-mail them. If all else fails, they do have a shop in Paris that might be more accessible to your BIL.

                I'd love to try steel molds to see if there is any difference, granted that copper has an aesthetic appeal outside of utility.

                1. re: pilinut

                  The molds I have are aluminium, not steel. I would gladly trade you :)
                  You paid for your copper molds what I paid for my aluminium ones (6€=$8).

          2. For anyone planning to get into this hobby/challenge, I should mention that beeswax is highly flammable.

            I saw Laura Calder on FN make canelés on French Food at Home. It was a quick and dirty version. The batter was chilled for 2 hrs, then ladled into silicone molds, baked for 15 minutes at 450, then 45 minutes at 350. They came our misshapen.

            BTW on the CH video on The Perfect Canelé I find the way the guy speaks somewhat irritating. I have never figured out the reason for upspeak.

            7 Replies
            1. re: souschef

              Re beeswax, It is a good thing you mentioned that it is flammable. While I didn't have any incidents with it, I was fortunately aware of this, so tried not to get it too hot for too long, It is a peculiar substance, prone to abrupt changes from solid to liquid and back, so heaven knows what else it is likely to do!

              Re the guy on the canelé video--I totally agree. His manner of speech was annoying at worst, distracting at best, and interfered with my desire and ability to pay attention to the subject matter. Had I been a casual viewer, and not someone on a quest, I'd have quit watching after his second sentence.

              1. re: pilinut

                Hahahaha, I thought I was the only one who felt that way about the guy in the video! I didn't want to say anything, but he was really annoying. Kind of made me not want to like the canele. I need to find a place nearby that makes them! There are too many things on my "to buy" list to include canele molds!

                1. re: Jemon

                  Haha! Check out the link gaetano posted; it has been updated. We are a lot more charitable towards the guy who did the video.

                  1. re: souschef

                    Hahaha, remind me not to get on you guys' bad sides!

                    1. re: Jemon

                      We don't have bad sides. Life is too short for that !

                      Have a wonderful day!

              2. re: souschef

                For best results it is recommended to keep batter in fridge for 48 hours. Source: linternaute.com

                1. re: lamaranthe

                  Seen that in a number of places. The quantity of batter that I make allows me to make two batches. The second batch is baked after 48 hours.