Thursday, February 19, 2009


Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted anything. And I've gotten grief from several people about it, so here is my latest pastry adventure, even though it was not chocolate: canelés! I discovered these at Ken's Artisan Bakery in Portland, and was immediately hooked. They also have them at St. Honore bakery, but I like Ken's a little better because they are cooked to a darker brown on the outside. Canelés are kind of like a cross between a crispy cake on the outside, with a creamy, pudding-like interior. Scrumptious! You can read more about them at Paula Wolfert's website.

I've been meaning to try my hand at baking them since summer, but it took me awhile to order the molds.
Traditional copper molds are about $20 apiece, so I bought the silicone molds, and they worked just fine. Then I stalled some more since I was a little daunted by the long process, and the fact that you need to melt beeswax to coat them. Turns out that the beeswax smells really nice when melted! Then you mix it with vegetable oil to make a "white oil". Paula didn't specify how much oil to mix in, so I wasn't sure if I'd know when it was right. Turns out it's pretty obvious, because it did turn white: Pioneer Woman would have taken much prettier pictures than I did.
Actually, I may have added too much oil, because it was so thick that I had to rub the molds with the mixture, rather than brushing the inside and letting the excess drain. It was way too thick to drain. I used Paula Wolfert's canelé recipe, but used half a tahitian vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. They turned out quite nicely for a first attempt, I think. They look a little suspicious first coming out of the oven: But they're so pretty once they're unmolded! Actually, the bottoms did get a little bit charred, so I just ate around those. Next time I'll cover them with foil once they're a dark brown. I suspect the rest of the surface didn't brown as quickly in the silicone as it would have in the traditional copper molds, otherwise I could have cooked them for a shorter time. Now that I've got a supply of white oil, it will be pretty easy to make these again. The hardest part is letting the batter sit for 24-48 hours. When I decide that I want a dessert, I want it NOW! These little treats are definitely worth the wait, though. Let's pretend that I didn't eat the whole batch by myself last night!

Yield 16 canelés

22.6 oz whole milk
1.33 oz unsalted butter, chilled
4.4 oz cake flour
2 pinches salt
8.1 oz baker’s sugar
6-7 egg yolks (102-112g)
4 t dark rum
½ - ¼ Tahitian vanilla bean
White oil (see notes)

1. Place butter, flour, and salt in the bowl of a processor; pulse until combined. Scatter sugar on top; pulse once or twice to mix.
2. Add egg yolks; process until mixture begins to tighten.
3. Microwave milk and vanilla bean in a measuring cup to 183 degrees.
4. With the motor running, quickly and steadily pour hot milk into batter, strain through very fine sieve into 2 qt measuring cup; press any congealed yolk through; stir in rum; cool to room temperature; cover, refrigerate 24 to 48 hours.
5. About 6 to 7 hours before serving, lightly brush the interior of each mold with lightly warmed white oil (use finger); set on paper towels crown side up to avoid pooling of oil in crevices; set molds in the freezer at least 30 minutes before baking.
6. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
7. Place chilled molds on wire cooling rack; gently whisk batter; fill each mold almost to the top; place on lower oven rack. After about 1 hour, cover canelés with foil. Continue to bake another 45-60 minutes or until canelés are deep, deep brown in color, or if desired, almost black.
9. Remove the molds from the oven. Unmold as quickly as possible. If any canelés resist, bake 5 to 10 minutes longer, or if necessary, use a toothpick to loosen. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

To make "white oil": Place 1 ounce of bee's wax in a 1 pint glass cup; melt in microwave; while still warm, gradually stir in enough canola oil to make a whitened mixture, light enough to coat the back of a spoon); cool to room temperature; store in the glass container at room temperature.
Canelé batter can be frozen up to two weeks; defrost in refrigerator.
Canelés turn spongy and heavy after 5 to 6 hours. To refresh: heat (without molds) in 450 degrees oven 5 minutes; remove from oven; let cool until exteriors hardens.
Leftover baked canelés can be frozen up to 1 month; to freeze, wrap individually in plastic wrap; to serve, remove from the freezer; while still frozen, bake unwrapped in 500 degrees F 5 minutes; remove from oven; let rest 30 minutes; bake 5 minutes; remove from oven; cool until exteriors harden.

Adapted from Paula Wolfert, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cook