Little cakes worth trying

ASK THE CHEF

September 04, 2005|By Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan | Jim Coleman and Candace Hagan,Knight Ridder / Tribune

While in France, I ate wonderful little vanilla cakes called canneles. I have tried several recipes for these cakes. Can you give me some tips to help them come out like the ones that I remember?

History says that more than 200 years ago, canneles were created by nuns who salvaged spilt flour from the holds of sailing ships. The key to getting the crisp, crunchy crust is the beeswax, which is available in health food stores.

There shouldn't be any leavening agent in your recipe (i.e., baking powder, baking soda, yeast).

Canneles

3 cups whole milk

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large egg yolks

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons dark rum

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup pastry flour

3 ounces beeswax, finely chopped

3/4 cup unsalted butter

Place a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the milk, vanilla bean, and the seed scrapings, and bring to a light boil. Remove from the heat and add 3 tablespoons of butter and set aside to slightly cool. In a large bowl, whip together the egg yolk, eggs and rum and continue whipping as you add the sugar and flour. When well combined, add the milk mixture to this. Strain into a sealed storage container and cover, making sure it's sealed tight, and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 12 hours. Remove the batter from the refrigerator approximately 1 1/2 hours before using.

Prepare the molds or cast-iron muffin pan for baking: Melt the beeswax in a small saucepan over low heat, making sure not to burn. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of butter and stir until the butter is melted and remove from heat. Using a pastry or kitchen brush, carefully coat the inside of the muffin molds. Continue until all molds are completely waxed, and if the beeswax becomes too thick, return to low heat to melt to a thin consistency.

Place the molds or the muffin pans on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Fill the molds about 3/4 full with batter, and place in a preheated 425-degree oven for 50 minutes, until the outside of the canneles are dark brown. Very carefully, remove from the oven using a dry, thick kitchen towel or thick oven mitts. Before de-molding, using a small paring knife, loosen the sides of the canneles. Then pick up the pan with your towel or oven mitt and turn upside down with a little bit of force to remove the cakes. Serve immediately.

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