Cannelés are a traditional pastry from Bordeaux and they are famously very difficult to make. You wouldn’t think so looking at the ingredients: how wrong can you go with flour, eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla and rhum? But in fact, the difficulty does not lie in the ingredients but in the method…I made 4 attempts for now and finally came up with acceptable cannelés, so I thought I’d share a few learnings.
Stick to the recipe (I know, this is pretty obvious)
The first time I tried cannelés, I came up with some nice muffins, tasting good but the consistence was nowhere near what I was looking for. I had added the flour in as I had the impression that the batter was too milky, and that was a big mistake. Totally edible, but not proper cannelés.
Air is your enemy
The second time, I whisked the batter instead of slowly stirring, and my cannelés ended up rising too much and coming out of the tins. You really need to be careful not to incorporate too much air in the batter if you want your cannelés to be good boys and stay put. Otherwise you’ll end up with little soufflés. If your oven is not hot enough it might cause the batter to rise too much as well (see below on heat).
For the same purpose, you need to leave your cannelé batter in the fridge at least one day and one night before baking them. Some recommend to leave it up to 3 days in the fridge before baking. But 24 hours is about as long as I can way (I am not exactly the most patient person in the world).
I like this picture found on The Boozy Epicure , that shows the difference between a cannelé baked from fresh batter, and one baked with batter who stayed in the fridge overnight. The texture is quite different, and you see you get rid of a lot of air bubbles!
Feel the heat
The third time, my oven was not hot enough so the cannelés did not caramelize and where just plain gooey. One of the characteristics of the perfect cannelé is the stark contrast between the crisp, caramelized, evenly dark crust and the custardy interior. That’s really what is difficult to obtain. To make sure your cannelés form that nice crust, your oven has to be at 250°C when you place them in the oven. You need to learn to know your oven.. I now leave mine on for 20 minutes before I put in the cannelés to bake, just to be sure. And just like for choux pastry, don’t open the oven door until after 30 minutes, then you can lower the temperature slightly if you are afraid your crust is burning.