NaNoWriMo is coming up. So are two seminars to teach in October. And a deadline for a short story contest on December 16th. Not to mention the other deadline in 3 days.

I’m reeling. I’m enjoying this week of relative calm knowing that next week begins madness. And beginning my National Novel Writing Month preparation.

I won’t have as much time to cook as I’d like to. The husband and I already made a run to chez Picard surgelé so that we could have frozen meals to eat on nights and days that we just can’t bare to cook. Except for a few cooking and restaurant plans I have for October and November there won’t be many updates.

So today, I made you something that actually took time and preparation and I had to pay attention to.

The Bordelais Cannelé. (pronounced can-nel-AY)

According to this website, by a man obsessed, the cannelé has a fascinating history. The little pastry was invented in the 18th century by a convent of nuns in Bordeaux. The whites of egg were used by the monks of a neighboring monastery to make their wine, and they gave the yolk of the egg to the nuns, because they didn’t want to waste it.

But what were the nuns going to do with a bunch of egg yellows? Apparently, they came up with this recipe – which they baked and baked and baked and gave to the poor.

The cannelé has also been called “dressed up crepe batter.” Only you can decide.


I first had these at a place called Pat’s. Sorry, Pat, but your cannelés suck. They were rubbery, dry and tasteless. After going to Bordeaux (see this entry) I discovered that while the cannelé was definitely supposed to have some bounce, it was anything but tasteless and dry.

Next up? The husband’s step-mother gave me a book of dessert recipes from the TV show Un Dîner Presque Parfaît and lo! the cannelé was present. All I needed now was a mold, ingredients and time. Which the husband and a student cancellation provided.

To make 12 Cannelé Bordelais:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 50cl of milk, divided
  • 25cl of rum
  • 150 grams of all purpose flour
  • 250 grams of white powdered sugar
  • one vanilla pod (it’s called a gousse de vanille in French and I don’t know the translation)

Use this online conversion if you don’t have the right measuring tools.

In a small casserole, bring 2/3 of the milk and all of the butter to a boil. In the meantime put the rest of the milk and the egg yolks in a bowl. When the milk and butter are boiling add them to the cold milk and eggs and mix. Let it cool down to room temperature.

Add your rum, your vanilla grains, and sugar.

Pour the flour into a sifter and sift the flour directly into the bowl with one hand, starting to mix the dough with a fork with the other.

The batter will be a liquid, lumpy, unappetizing thing.

Once all the flour has been added switch to an electric mixer and start mixing until its as smooth as possible. Mix it on a low speed, then high, then low again. Go slowly. Love your batter. Sing to it. There will still be lumps.

That’s where care and patience comes in. Find something in your house with tiny holes. A strainer of sorts. I used my tea pot’s strainer because it’s all I have.

Pour your batter in and let the liquid pour into another bowl, while the lumps remain inside the strainer. You’ll have to mix and scrape the batter away from the strainer’s walls often. It’s gooey.

Once that’s done and there are definitely no more lumps left – seriously no lumps! – let the batter rest in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Some recommend 24 hours.

Heat up your stove to 200°C. Butter up your cannelé molds.

OK. Don’t use muffin tins. Don’t. They are too big. You need tiny muffin tins for this. In France, they sell special cannelé molds obviously, however, if you’re craving these, not in France and in a bind, find the smallest mold you can, otherwise they won’t cook properly.

Fill your molds up to about 2/3 – ¾ of the way. Put them in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes.

At the end of 20 minutes rotate the mold and lower the heat to 160°C. Bake for another 30 minutes.

Cannelés really are like souped up crepes. They have a crisp outside with a spongy, bouncy center that is moist and so good right out of the oven. The rum, though it may seem like a lot in the recipe is not overpowering. The alcohol adds a bit of sauciness to the pastry, something more than your typical sugar butter vanilla combination and makes it the perfect afternoon or post dinner treat. Serve warm. Serve with coffee.

Those were some lucky poor.

Wish me luck with NaNoWriMo!

A Word To the Wise: Cannelé do not keep for very long. A day or two at most. Eat them warm! Eat them fresh!