Canelé – meaning fluted, to reflect their shape – are tiny rum-soaked French pastries with a history spanning more than 300 years. Hailing from Bordeaux, the baked custards were born from the excess egg yolks of winemakers in the region, who used the whites to clarify their drops. With a rich custardy inside, the sweet morsels are traditionally baked in individual copper moulds, which deliver a perfectly crisp, dense caramelised shell.
Here, we share Sonoma's recipe, a traditionalist method that, with enough patience, will see you master the scorched golden treats. Canelé are tricky, requiring perseverance and an eye for detail – a true labour of love.
To make the batter, combine 475ml milk with scraped seeds of 1½ vanilla beans and pods in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; heat mixture to 90˚C; strain through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl and cool to 70°C.
Meanwhile, place 100gm plain flour, 220gm caster sugar and 5gm fine salt in a large bowl; add 50gm melted unsalted butter and using your hands, rub butter into dry ingredients until mixture is like wet sand (10 minutes).
Make a well in centre and using a stiff whisk, gradually mix in milk mixture until combined followed by 4 egg yolks and 2 egg whites (do not aerate). Strain batter through a fine sieve into a container with a lid. Cover and cool to room temperature then stir in 40ml dark rum; refrigerate covered for 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 100˚C. To grease canelé moulds, place 140gm clarified butter and 60gm beeswax (see note) in a small saucepan over low heat; stir until melted and combined (2-3 minutes). Warm 10 canelé moulds in oven, then carefully brush insides with wax mixture and turn upside down on a wire rack to drain off excess. When cool enough to handle, place moulds in the freezer for at least 30 minutes until chilled.
Increase oven temperature to 220˚C. Stir batter gently (do not aerate), then fill prepared moulds (a traditional copper mould should only get 70gm of batter), leaving 3mm-5mm at top of each; bake for 12 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 190˚C and bake further until deep golden (35-40 minutes). Remove from oven and stand for 2 minutes then carefully turn out onto a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve with whipped cream, if using.