Friday, March 31, 2006

The Cult of the Cannele, Part 2

Have you ever made something from a recipe following the directions to the letter and it comes out great and then you make it again using only the gist of the recipe and you fail miserably?
Yeah, me too. That's what happened when I made canneles for the second time this week. Circumstances were against me. I made the batter late at night after some wine and liqueur (Hey! It was my birthday!) I thought I'd avoid having to strain the batter by making it in the blender. It seemed to work just fine.
I dragged myself out of bed at the crack of dawn to get the canneles in the oven because I had friends coming over at 9AM and with the 2 hour baking and recommended resting time of 1 hr., I didn't have any time to lose. In my hurry, I forgot to add the vanilla and rum to my batter. Once they were in the oven, I realized I had also forgotten the salt. Doh! I sensed disaster but as that special honey scent started wafting through the house I crossed my fingers that they would be edible. At the one hour mark, I went to take the first few out of the oven. (After my first cannele baking experience I decided to try pulling a few out of the oven at a time.) Hmmm, their tops were rounded and they looked much different than my first attempt. Could it be the difference in mixing methods? I tried to pop one out but it stuck (last time they all popped right out with ease and you can see that these are not as perfectly shaped). Once I pried one free, I noticed that they were as dark as the canneles I had baked for 2 hrs. the other day. Crap! I pulled them all out of the oven.
I'd be horrible at conducting experiments. I screwed with so many variables that I have no idea what happened. I used larger pans as well as the bitty-bundts and I put the large pans on the top shelf, which also holds the pizza stone. Last time the pan with the bitty-bundts went on this shelf. Had the pizza stone shielded them and allowed for the 2 hr. baking without incinerating? Who knows, I'll guess I'll just have to make them again. Life is hard.
The surprising thing is that even with all my screw ups, these canneles were delicious! Even Emma, who is three, kept begging for more. I think I'm finding that canneles are like pizza, even when it's bad it's good.
Here's the recipe I have used so you can attempt your own cannele experiments. My changes are in parentheses.

Canneles de Bordeaux- adapted from Paula Wolfert
1/2 vanilla bean (I just used extract)
1 c. superfine sugar (I used regular organic)
2 c. whole milk
3/4 c. cake flour
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
4 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. dark rum (I used brandy and can't wait to try Grand Marnier)

Combine sugar, flour, salt and butter in mixer and mix well. Add the egg yolks one by one (I thought this seemed like a bad idea so I tempered the eggs first by adding a little of the warm milk and then I added them slowly to the flour). Heat the milk to 183 degrees and add to the flour mixture. Mix until batter forms. It will be very thin like crepe batter. Pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Add rum (and vanilla extract if that's what you are using) and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the pans with butter mixture*. Place pans upside-down on a pan and put in the oven so that the extra coating can drip out. Remove pans from the oven and flip over. Fill each cup almost to the rim. Bake for 1 to 2 hours, checking often. Be sure to take one out of the pan when you check them as it is hard to tell how done they are just by looking at the tops (bottoms?).
For the record, the rose shaped bundt pan worked too. The larger canneles were very custardy in the middle. Of course now I need to buy the real molds so I can achieve the perfect crust to custard ratio!

*Butter mixture- I think beeswax is more important to cannele making than having the right molds. The taste and sheen just wouldn't be the sam without it. I tracked some down at the farmer's market. I asked the honey guy if his wax was food grade and he said, "Well you don't eat it". Ha! I beg to differ! Here's my recipe for a waxy blend.

Melt 1 oz. beeswax with 2 Tbsp. butter in the microwave. Watch carefully as beeswax is apparently flammable. Stir in 2 Tbsp. of safflower oil. Be sure you do this in a container you don't care too much about as wax is not the easiest substance to get rid of. I think I'll be baking canneles often as I have a lot of this mixture left and I've already ruined my only pastry brush.


At 9:16 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

Welcome to the passion of the Cannele!

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Tea said...

Oh my gosh, I am craving cannele now! These look so gorgeous. I'm impressed that you took the plunge. I buy mine at a French bakery, dangerously within walking distance of my house.

Glad you enjoyed the meme!

At 8:42 PM, Blogger lee said...

Melissa- Thanks for stopping by. Cannele baking is a hard job but somebodies got to do it.

Tea- I'd do a lot less baking if I had a French bakery within walking distance of my house!

At 9:34 AM, Anonymous sher said...

Good for you!!! I have recipes that don't do it the real way, with the wax. I'm very impressed.

At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 tb = 1 oz


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