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Canelés de Bordeaux (aka Cannelés)

Canelés (aka cannelés) are crispy, crunchy, custardy and oh so French. J’adore this canelé recipe and I hope you will too. Don’t worry, I’ve made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to.

If you’ve never had a canelé, imagine them as the sweet and sophisticated French cousin of the popover. Made with a thin crepe-like batter and baked in a special pan, a good canele has a deep-brown crust and a soft, custardy interior.

I can pretty much guarantee that you are not going to find canelés in your local grocery store, and probably not even in a local French bakery. So if you want a canelé (or 4) you’ll have to make them yourself.

Much like the exquisite and ethereal French Macaron, caneles are a bit of a baking challenge. But for us baking geeks that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

I baked a whole bunch of canelés, made all the mistakes and tested all the theories for canelé success.

Can I guarantee that your very first batch of canelés will be “oh-la-la”? Well, I can’t 100% guarantee perfect canelés on the first try. But I will arm you with all the information I gleaned over several weeks of intensive testing to give you a head-start.

The definitive guide to making great Canelés de Bordeaux at home:

Ok, first things first….

Which canele pan is the best?

I’ve seen canelé recipes that use muffin tins (sorry, no way), silicone canelé molds (I’m not a fan of silicone baking pans in general), carbon steel pans and specialized, tin-lined copper canelé molds.

Is it worth spending a small fortune for the fancy French copper molds, or can we spend a little less and get great results? Let’s find out.

For my testing, I purchased a 12 cup carbon steel pan and 3 brands of copper molds, each at a different price point.

an assortment of canele pans on a table, set up for testing

Listed below are the pans I tested. (As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)

The results? Overall I preferred the copper molds to the carbon steel pan. I found that with the silicone-lined steel pan the beeswax was too slippery so I ended up using pan spray instead. (More about that beeswax later…)

The caneles baked in the copper molds coated with beeswax had a crunchier, thicker and glossier crust.

Because a great canele is all about the textural contrast between the crust and the interior, the quality of the crust matters.

four caneles baked in different pans
Four caneles baked in different pans. All were acceptable, but I prefer the copper molds with beeswax coating.
an interior shot of a canele baked in steel carbon pan
The caneles baked in steel carbon looked great, but the crust was thinner and not as crunchy as the crust formed in a copper mold. I also missed the gloss from the beeswax. This pan is acceptable, but not my favorite.

You will make an acceptable canele with the steel pan, and it is significantly less expensive. If you are price sensitive and are willing to compromise a little on the result, this pan is an option.

The Mauviel pan ($29.95 for 1!!!!) was the heaviest, most beautiful and most expensive of all the copper pans.

In side by side tests all the copper molds performed very well. I recommend the Darware molds since they are the most economical choice and produce great caneles.

So, now that we’ve chosen our pan, lets work on the recipe and technique.

How to make the best Canele recipe

After a little research I found that most canele recipes were almost identical. The batter has simple ingredients and simple technique. Like a crepe batter, it’s made with milk, sugar & eggs. There’s also a significant amount of vanilla and rum for flavor.

My initial recipe was converted from a French recipe I found on-line. The first round of caneles were not bad, but the interior was a little more cakey than custardy.

For a moister and more custardy interior, I added a little more sugar and another egg to the recipe. That was easy.

Now for the hard part, how to bake these fussy little buggers.

How to bake perfect Caneles:

Make the batter up to 3 days in advance: This gives the flour in the batter time to hydrate. Over this time the vanilla and rum flavors will continue to develop.

a container of canele batter
You can see how the batter has separated in the refrigerator. Whisk the batter back together before filling the canele molds.

Use a mixture of beeswax and butter to coat the pans: There’s a reason this is the traditional coating for a canele pan. Butter or pan spray will work in that they allow for easy release of the baked pastries, but the beeswax does more than grease the pan.

Caneles baked with beeswax/butter have a glossy finish that sets a great canele apart from an average canele. Trust me, if you’re going through the effort to make caneles, use the beeswax!

a cup of bees wax pellets
Melt the beeswax in the microwave or on the stove.

Take the time to clarify the butter for the coating: I read this trick on one of the many websites I visited. Since milk solids burn at a lower temperature, separating the milk solids from the butterfat means fewer burnt crusts.

a spoon skimming foam for clarified butter
Clarify the butter then mix it with the melted beeswax. Coat the pans while the wax/butter is hot.

Use hot wax and warm molds: For a perfectly-thin wax coating, warm the pans in the oven briefly. Pour the hot wax into the warm pans. You might want to use a glove to hold onto the mold, it will get hot from the wax. Immediately dump the wax back into the container. Flip the mold over onto a baking rack to drain.

pouring melted bees wax into a canele mold
Pour the hot wax/butter into the warm canele mold
canele molds draining on a baking rack
Drain the molds on a backing rack.

Fill the molds up to 1/4″ from the top: The batter will not rise over the pan since the crust forms so quickly. 1/4″ at the top allows enough room for the caneles to rise and create a nice, tall pastry.

canele pans filled with batter on a baking sheet
Fill the pans to 1/4″ from the top. Do not line the pan with baking parchment, it may burn in the hot oven.

Start with a super hot oven: As I said, the defining characteristic of a good canele is the contrast between the thick, crunchy crust and the soft, eggy interior. The way to achieve this is to start them in a very hot (500°F) oven.

At this temp the crust forms very quickly, protecting the inside from over baking and keeping the canele from rising up and out of the form.

I tried starting at 450°F and got flabby caneles. I also tried 525°F and used the convection setting but ended up with crusts that were just this shy of burnt.

In my oven, 500°F was the sweet spot for a deeply browned crust that wasn’t at all burnt.

caneles baking in the oven
See how the caneles are mushrooming, but not browning? The oven is not hot enough.
caneles baking in a hot oven
In a very hot oven, the caneles puff, but don’t mushroom. They’re browning very quickly.
a poorly formed french canele
Caneles that started out in a lower temp oven failed to form a good crust. They mushroomed out of the pan and collapsed when turned out of the mold.
burnt caneles
Caneles started above 500°F and made without clarified butter got an overly dark crust.

Reduce the heat, then finish baking: After the initial high-heat baking time, reduce the heat to finish baking the caneles. I found it helpful to start checking the caneles after about 35 minutes at 375°F.

You can’t just go by what the top of the canele looks like. You’ll want to check the sides. Quickly lift a canele out of the mold (use a gloved hand or tongs) to see if the crust is fully browned. Sometimes the top of the canele can look quite brown, but the sides will still be a little pale.

Learn to live with an occasional “white butt”: Every so often you’ll turn out a beautifully formed and well-browned canele only to notice that the “butt” (the fluted top) is a little pale.

I think this occasionally happens when the canele lifts a little in the pan. Since the bottom is not touching the hot pan it browns less. Or maybe there was a little too much wax in the bottom of the pan. Oh, well, just eat that one first.

a canele with a white butt
Other than the “white butt” it’s a perfect canele.

FAQs for making Caneles de Bordeaux:

How do you season canele molds?

Before baking with the copper molds you must season them, like you would a cast iron pan. Line the molds up on a sheetpan, fill each mold with vegetable oil and bake in a preheated 300°F oven for 1 hour. Discard the oil and wipe the molds clean with a paper towel.

How do you clean canele molds?

Don’t put canele pans in the dishwasher and don’t wash with soap or you’ll ruin the seasoning. Use a paper towel to wipe off excess beeswax. That’s it!

Can I work ahead to make caneles?

Yes, the batter must be made at least a day ahead. You can prepare the molds at least a few days before you’re ready to bake. On the day you want to bake, preheat the oven, fill the molds and bake!

How do you store caneles?

You don’t. Caneles are best eaten the day they are baked, preferably within a couple of hours. I left a few caneles in a bag at room temperature overnight and they were soggy and chewy the next day. (But, honestly, I still ate them!)

Can you freeze caneles?

Yes, you can freeze caneles! I froze several caneles a couple of hours after they were baked. I took them out of the freezer and reheated them in the canele molds for about 5 minutes to re-crisp the crust. They were almost as good as fresh.

cleaning a canele mold with a paper towel
To clean the molds, just wipe inside and out with a dry paper towel.
a hand holding a french canele
See that glossy finish? That’s the beeswax!
interior view of a french caneles

Watch the recipe video to see exactly how to make Caneles de Bordeaux from start to finish.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

caneles on a blue surface

Caneles de Bordeaux

Yield: 12 caneles
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Batter Resting Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 1 hour 40 minutes

Caneles are crispy, crunchy, custardy and oh so French.

Ingredients

Batter

  • 2 cups (16 oz, 480 ml) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz, 28g) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz, 60 ml) dark rum
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4oz, 112g) all purpose flour

Pan Coating

  • 1/4 cup (2 oz, 56g) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup (1.5 oz, 42g) bees wax

Instructions

    1. Heat the milk with the butter, rum, vanilla bean and salt until scalding. Turn off the heat and let the milk steep for 20 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks with the sugar.
    2. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk. Scrape the seeds from the pod and add them to the milk. Reheat the milk to scalding hot.
    3. Slowly whisk 1/4 of the milk into the egg mixture. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk. Return the vanilla pod to the bowl.
    4. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the batter for at least 24 hours or up to 3 days.
    5. Preheat the oven to 500°F.
    6. Line the canele molds on a baking tray and place the tray in the oven long enough to warm up the molds. They don't have to be super-hot, just warm.
    7. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Continue cooking the butter over medium heat until a foam forms on top of the butter and the milk solids fall to the bottom. Use a small spoon to skim the foam off the top. Pour the butter from the pan, leaving the milk solids behind. While the butter mis melting, put the beeswax in a microwave safe container. Microwave in 30 second increments until all the wax is melted. Combine the clarified butter with beeswax.
    8. Set a cooling rack over a tray lined with paper towels.
    9. Fill a warm canele mold with the melted butter/wax then pour the butter/wax back into the original container. Immediately place the mold upside down on the rack to drain. Continue coating the rest of the molds with butter/wax. Rewarm the wax/butter if it is setting too quickly.
    10. Stir the batter well to reincorporate all the ingredients and transfer the batter to a large measuring cup or pitcher with a pouring spout. Place the canele molds right side up on an unlined sheet pan. Fill each mold up to 1/4" from the top with the batter.
    11. Bake the caneles for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F and bake another 35 minutes. Lift a canele out of the pan to check if the sides are well browned. If not, give them a few more minutes.
    12. Remove the caneles from the oven and immediately unmold them onto a cooling rack. Cool to room temperature. Best eaten the day they are baked.

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