Canelés de Bordeaux are one of those under-appreciated and underwhelmingly plain baked goods that are seemingly negligible and insignificant in comparison to other glorified and intricately beautiful desserts. If you have never had a canelé – and rightly so, given that its availability is not so commonplace – imagine a soft, vanilla and rum-scented baked custard with a deeply burnish, caramelised, and crunchy crust that offers a great amount of textural contrast and an almost-adult tasting bitterness – from the rum and slightly charred skin. Or, if you have had a bad canelé: a non-porous, rum-tasting kueh with a caramelised crust – which shouldn’t be the case, and hopefully changes your mind when you bake yours.
The steps to making canelés are rather straightforward and easy to follow, however, it is the dedication to the source of ingredients and the discipline to wait – the entire process takes up to 3 days – that makes making canelés a hassle. But something that is freshly baked with care and dedication can never hold a candle to those commercially available ones.
For something as classic as a canelé, I find it almost unscrupulous to exclude using beeswax for the coating of the canelé moulds. Yes, I make mine using only butter – apologies to the purists and canelé experts. But I find that using only butter works as well in giving the canelés a glossy sheen and crunchy, caramelised crust; though, my only hunch is that it probably won’t stay crunchy as long as using a beeswax-butter mixture in Singapore’s humidity.
After baking, the crust of the canele should be caramelised and crisp, with a porous, honeycombed, and custardy centre.
These are best eaten within a few hours after baking so it stays crunchy and custardy - along with a cup of hot earl grey tea. Share with me your favourite rum and thoughts on these canelés if you try it! Enjoy! :)