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My Canelé Misadventures, Thus Far


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My Canelé Misadventures, Thus Far

pilinut | Jul 26, 2010 07:07 PM

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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