It’s rugby season once again. Although I don’t like rugby, I do have a vested interest in a few matches due to a long standing bet between me and my French colleagues.
It all started about 6 years ago with my colleague Cecile. We decided whoever’s team lost would have to bake a cake for the office for Monday morning. We both had wins and losses over the years – she made a spectacular and very French Apple tart one year, I made a classic Victoria sponge another year.
When Cecile moved to another company another French colleague, Ludo, took on the mantle. However, his efforts have left a little to be desired at times, such as this quite delightful effort of a raspberry swissroll covered with squirty cream and tricolore balls.
I think France may have had a bad year that year!
This year, as usual, I didn’t bother to watch the match – I can only cope with about 5 minutes at a time. I switched it on close to the end only to watch England lose in the final 2 minutes.
Never mind, at least it gave me something to bake and post about!
I decided to make a French classic – Cannelé de Bordeaux. These are little individual cakes baked in special moulds. The batter is similar to a pancake batter and the finished article is a spongy cake, with a chewy outside and an almost custard like interior.
As with all French patisserie recipes, you need to plan your time as these cannot be just whipped up last minute of course. You need to make the batter well in advance so it has plenty of time to chill.
I used a recipe from a French website (http://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_canneles-bordelais_11439.aspx). I’ll write the ingredients below in English for non-French speakers.
– 500 ml milk
– 1 pinch of salt
– 2 whole eggs
– 2 egg yolks
– 1/2 vanilla pod
– 1 soup spoon of rum
– 100 g plain flour
– 250 g caster sugar
– 50 g butter (+ 50 g to grease the moulds)
The method is quite simple. Simply boil the milk with the vanilla and butter. While you’re doing this, mix the flour and sugar together, then add all the eggs and mix together well – a bit like you were making a custard. Then pour in the boiling milk and mix gently until you you have a batter that is a similar consistency to pancake batter (i.e. it should coat the back of a wooden spoon). Leave to cool before adding the rum and then refrigerate for several hours (overnight if possible).
When you are ready to cook your cannelés, preheat your oven to 270C (or as high as you can if, like mine, your oven doesn’t go up to this) and put a baking tray in the oven to heat up at the same time.
Now we have to turn our attention to the moulds. The secret to cannelés is really the shape. My advice if you don’t have the correct moulds is to make something else as they just won’t work.
I borrowed some silicon moulds from my friend Laura. One mould for small cannelés, and for normal size ones. I enthusiastically recommend silicon moulds for this. The traditional moulds are made of copper and need to be coated with beeswax and several layers of butter before use. The silicon moulds just need the butter. I melted the extra 50g butter and painted each mould with it. Then after it had cooled and hardened I did it again. I have no idea if my silicon moulds would have worked anyway without this, but I didn’t want to take the risk.
The recipe states to fill the moulds no more than halfway with the batter. I was very careful to do this and found that my cannelés were a little on the short side, so I’d be tempted to fill them slightly fuller next time – but no more than 2/3 full.
Remove your hot baking tray from the oven, place the moulds into it and put them into the very hot oven before the baking tray has had time to cool down.
Cook at this temperature for 5 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 180C and cook for an hour.
Don’t be tempted to open the door to look at or poke the cannelés. Just leave them alone for the whole hour – don’t worry they won’t burn even though they do go scarily dark – that’s a good thing.
After the hour remove from the oven, and press out of the moulds while still hot. Put onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
Your cannelé should have a very dark brown crust, but be soft, squishy and custard-like in the centre.
Hope you enjoy making them!!