I love Bordeaux. Shocking, I know.
In this particular case I’m not talking about the wine, which I do also love, but the town itself. We’re currently in lockdown. We’ve been in and out of it since March and I’ve not ventured outside of the M25 (London orbital road) at all during that time. This has left me pining for the places I love, and trying to reach for them from home in all sorts of little ways. What am I doing when I’m not drinking (or weight lifting, no, really!)? Baking.
Baking. Bordeaux. Canelé.
They are basically a custard with rum in, that you bake until it’s not a custard custard with rum in any more. They’re ubiquitous around Bordeaux with every third shop selling them (or so it seems at times!). I wasn’t particularly taken with them the first time I had them, but over time they’ve definitely grown on me. Not surprising really given that done well they’re nom. Dark crunchy outsides and light fluffy insides. While I don’t have the traditional copper moulds that give Canelé their classic shape (or any beeswax, which is traditionally what’s used to stop them sticking to said copper moulds), I thought I’d give them a go at home. Sacrilegious, I know, but needs must in times such as these… (if I was actually that person, I’m pretty sure I’d already have Canelé moulds).
While this recipe isn’t my own, I’ve done a fair amount of research and discovered that absolutely everyone seems to use exactly the same one, so I really don’t feel guilty passing it on, and I’m not passing it off as mine. The only differences across them are the number of adjectives and whether or not they use a real vanilla pod or not (the ones that have more adjectives tend to have real vanilla). All that said, I am lazy at measuring so I rounded all the measurements to the quantities to the nearest 50/100g and used spiced rum (as it’s what I happen to have in right now – it was either that, pineapple rum or cachaça and I didn’t want to go ~that~ off piste), so maybe it is my own recipe after all. (I’m also cooking them in a muffin tray).
Heat the milk, butter and a split and scraped out vanilla pod and its seeds (or you know, a splash of pretend vanilla) until the butter has melted then leave to cool a bit and the vanilla to steep.
While you’re doing this take the eggs/egg yolks, sugar, flour, salt and rum and beat them together. You’re just trying to mix them, not get air in. Air bad.
When the milk/vanilla/butter is lukewarm (you don’t want to cook the eggs, but you also don’t want the butter solids to re-congeal) take out the vanilla pod (this is the point where food TV/bloggers tell you to put it in some caster sugar to make vanilla sugar that you’ll not know what to do with), and whisk the two mixtures together. You’ll have a rather posh, sweet pancake batter.
Cover it and leave it. Apparently over night. Normally I wouldn’t bother leaving it that long, but I actually did in this case, because I’m not going anywhere. Resting allows the starch grains in the flour to swell up/absorb the liquid, this softens them which in turn leads to a lighter finished product. It also leaves the batter to incorporate properly, which given that you want to minimise mixing (air bad) is a good thing. Same goes for pancakes. I am realising that they’re pretty pancake adjacent in a lot of ways. I may edit my description at the top and declare them a sweet Yorkshire pudding.
Heat the oven to 220c. grease you special canelé tin with melted beeswax (muffin tin with butter) and fill them to not quite the top.
Bake at 220 for 8-10 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 180c and bake them for another 40 minutes. They’ll rise and then sink. This is traditional, not bad baking, honest. They should be pretty dark brown.
Once they’re out of the oven, leave them to cool for maybe 20 minutes before taking them out of the tin and then try and leave them to cool completely before eating them (but actually they’re lovely still warm). They should be crunchy on the outside, smooth in the middle
armadillos!. They should probably be eaten with a glass of Sauternes, but most of these didn’t make it that far.
500ml of milk
1 vanilla pod (or some extract, essence or whatever else you have/want)
2 eggs and 2 egg yolks (weightlifting me will be having an egg white omelette it would seem)
200g caster sugar (this is when I should have used that vanilla sugar)
100g plain flour
25ml (i.e. one shot) rum (I used Chairman’s Reserve Spiced, which came back with us from another holiday)
A pinch of salt