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Replicating Favorites: Canele de Bordeaux

February 24, 2012

I remember my very first bite of a canele vividly.  What possessed me to pick this odd looking almost burnt pastry out of all the sweets that Metropolitan Bakery offered that one fateful day, I don’t know.  All I know is I was tickled by the sweet smell of burnt sugar that hit my nose first, charmed by the shatter of the shell as my teeth sunk in, and absolutely smitten by the soft custard soft center that the first bite revealed.  It was as if someone took the best things about a creme brulee and condensed them into three tiny bites was simply described as heaven.  Yes, this was what heaven must taste like, I concluded when finished my first canele.  It must taste of sweet caramelized custard laced with rum and hints of citrus.

After a little research, I learned that the canele is a specialty pastry from the Bordeaux region of France whose exact origins are stuff of legends and folklore.  The pastries are traditionally made with copper molds for their signature cylindrical shape with sloped ridges and are characterized by a deep evenly caramelized shell.  

What I found most remarkable is the simplicity of the ingredients.  Just butter, sugar, eggs, milk, flour, vanilla bean and rum for the standard canele.  The batter is rested overnight and baked initially at a high temperature to set the shell and finished at a lower temperature to slowly set the custard center.  What makes the caneles tricky is the mold, which needs to be buttered like your life depends on it.  Actually it takes a lot more than butter, including beeswax (not an easy ingredient to procure) and a few additional steps.  After a few attempts with the expensive copper molds and not a whole lot of success, I gave into modern technology and started using a silicone mold.  Even though the silicone mold doesn’t give quite as nice of a shell as the copper mold does, the convenience persuaded me to turn the other cheek.  Below is an adapted recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini to which I added the zest of an orange to bring me back to that very first canele de Bordeaux that I tasted.

Canele de Bordeaux

(Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 30 grams (2 tablespoons) good quality butter, diced
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 100 grams (3/4 cup) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 180 grams (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) good quality rum
  • 1 orange
  1. Combine the milk, butter and vanilla bean in a pan and heat over medium until the butter has melted and the milk is steaming.  Remove from heat and take out the vanilla bean.  Scrap the vanilla with the dull side of a knife and return the seeds and the pods back into the milk.  Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine, flour, salt and sugar.  Add in the eggs but do not stir yet.  Wait until the milk butter mixture is at room temperature.  Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine.
  3. Add the rum as well as the zest from the orange into the batter which will be on the thinner side.  Cover and place in the fridge for at least 24 hours, up to 3 days.
  4. Next day, preheat the oven to 480F.  If you are using the silicone mold, no need to butter.  Simply pour the batter (after a quick gentle mix as it will have separated in the fridge) to about 3/4 full.  Bake at 480F for about 20 minutes and then lower the temperature to 400F and bake for another 25 -35 minutes depending on the size of your mold.  The tops should be a dark golden brown.  If it’s browning too fast, place a parchment paper over top.
  5. Allow the caneles to sit in the mold for 10 minutes before turning them out to cool completely before eating.  These taste great for up to a week kept in an air tight container.  Just reheat in the oven for 5 minutes at 350F to get that crust nice and crispy again.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2012 2.58 pm

    I ate my first cannele at Metro as well!

    The recipe says “bake” but did you use a torch on yours?

    “These taste great for up to a week kept in an air tight container” <–They do not. As with any fresh pastry canele should be consumed in a day or two. Mini canele have a very brief window of serious deliciousness.

    "If you are using the silicone mold, no need to butter." <—This is incorrect. For authentic results use the 50/50 beeswax butter mixture whether using copper or silicone molds.

    Also you probably discovered Metro's recipe is different from Clotilde's. If you wanted to reproduce Metro's style supply a recipe in their cookbook.

    • February 29, 2012 2.47 pm


      I did not use a torch on mine. While you are absolutely right that caneles definitely taste best fresh out of the oven, I find that the caneles can be saved by a few minutes in an oven to resuscitate the crust. As for the beeswax/butter, it’s definitely the most traditional way to make caneles but my silicone mold actually produced decent enough results for me not to have to bother with the hassle of the butter.

      As for the metro recipe, I own the cookbook and tried the recipe but for some reason, the results weren’t ideal so that’s why I turned to Clotilde’s for a second try and the results were much more satisfying. Would love to see if you have given the Metro recipe a try?


  1. Good Bye 2012 and Happy 2013! « Sometimes I Crave…

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