Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Cult of the Cannele, Part 1

One of my favorite things to do in NYC when I lived there and now when I visit is to eat breakfast at Balthazar. (If you have Quicktime be sure to take the virtual tour on their website.) The first time I think I went by myself. I got a cafe au lait in a bowl and the bread basket all to myself. It comes with an assortment of sweet breads, croissants and spreads. It's very simple but when the bread is this good, it's enough. Balthazar is beautiful and it reminded me of being in Europe even though I don't think I ever had breakfast in a cafe like this when I was in Europe.
One thing not included in the bread basket sampler was the canneles. I'm not sure if I had read about these before or if I was just seduced by their burnished exterior but on one of my visits I bought one to go. Nothing prepares you for your first bite because it's not like anything you've had before. And now I know why, because I have made my own (more about this in Part 2).
I had never really thought about trying to bake them myself because I new they required fancy copper molds that I wasn't willing to purchase. Then I read of other food blogger adventures in cannele baking here, here and here. I gave in to the desire for homemade canneles when I learned that they can be made in mini bundt cake pans- an underused piece of kitchen equipment that I already own. Yeeehaaaw!
The thing is, I have two sizes of mini bundt pans. I used the extra-mini bundt pan but I think it may have been the wrong choice. Don't get me wrong, they were very tasty but the crust to custardy filling ratio was a little off. Also, I baked them for almost two hours which I think is a bit much for these babies. However, I was interested to read in this essay by Louisa at Moveable Feast (the paragraph about canneles is near the end) that in some French bakeries canneles come in three varieties- light, medium and nearly burnt. Mine were definitely the latter but my friend Molly declared she wouldn't change a thing. Next time I am going to try taking four at a time out of the oven- 1 hr. for the light, 1 and a half for the medium and 2 hrs. for the almost burnt. Stay tuned for Part 2...


At 3:24 PM, Blogger allisonmariecat said...

Ooh, a cliffhanger ending! What will happen next?

At 6:31 PM, Anonymous Ivonne said...

I can't wait to read Part 2! The funny thing is that I've been on a bit of a cannele hunt myself. I've been looking for molds or for a substitute for traditional molds. Thanks for the idea about the bundt pans!

At 12:57 PM, Blogger lee said...

allison- Yeah, the excitement is getting unbearable around here. ;)

Ivonne- I'll probably post Part2 tomorrow (friday) but there might be a Part3 because Part 2 didn't work out quite the way I had hoped! I do recommend the bundt pan alternative.


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