It’s funny how much Portland can feel like a small town sometimes. There’s over 600,000 people that live here, but you can find yourself running into people you know so easily. I was on instagram a couple months ago and got a message from one of the floral design accounts I follow, Selva Floral Design. Well it turned out that it’s run by Sarah Blasi, and I know her mother because she used to work with my sister at the elementary school she taught at, and was doing floral work on the side, and so her mom and her actually did my wedding flowers back before Selva was founded. I had no idea the account I was following was Sarah, out of all the florist accounts on instagram, it just happened to be someone local that I knew. The internet can feel like a really small space, sometimes, in the best way possible. We caught up a bit and now Sarah and her mother are joining me and my mother for a Scratch Session floral design & edible flower workshop mother’s day weekend. We still have about 5 spaces left, and you can join us here.
Sarah and her mom Jo came over a couple weeks back, bringing a bundle of gorgeous flowers in tow and I did my best to provide some sweets for us to enjoy. Namely, canelé . If you’re unfamiliar with them, they’re basically a French pastry whose flavor is reminiscent of creme brûlée and whose texture lays somewhere between a cake and a custard. They look like tiny adorable bundt cakes, and to make them you need special canelé pans which are usually tin on the inside and copper on the outside. This helps them get very dark and slightly crisp on the outside while staying soft and custardy on the inside, giving every bite of the candle a wonderful hint of burnt sugar and creamy vanilla-y filling. I got my pans from Sur La Table and they performed very well, just make sure you proof them upon arrival and make the ‘white oil’ (a mixture of beeswax and butter) to line them with, which I go through in the recipe below.
Canelés have a bit of a reputation for being tricky and temperamental, but aside from brushing the pans with the white oil and having to get special pans, I found the recipe itself to be pretty straightforward. The best part is that you get to put a whole vanilla bean in the batter and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight, which lets the pure vanilla flavor seep into absolutely *everything*. This was definitely in the top three tastiest baked goods I’ve ever made as far as texture and flavor goes. And don’t be afraid if the outside of the candle looks really dark once you remove it from the pan, you want the exterior to be a really dark brown, just before black. If it’s dark gold but not brown, it will have a little of that burnt sugar flavor, but not very much, whereas when it is dark brown you not only get a good dose of that creme brûlée-esque burnt sugar flavor, but you also get a slightly crisp exterior wall which is such a great textural contrast to the soft custardy cake inside. If you’re looking for something delicious to make for Valentine’s day, I can’t recommend this more highly. It does take a little foresight since the batter needs to rest overnight, but trust me, the taste makes the planning more than worth it 🙂
3 tablespoons food grade beeswax pellets
First make sure your canelé molds are ready (this only applies to the traditional copper and tin canelé molds, not the silicone ones). If you’ve bought them brand new, you need to proof them by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and dry your new molds by hand, then grease them with shortening or vegetable oil. Place them on a baking sheet, hollow side facing up, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove them from the baking sheet, place a wire rack on the baking sheet, then place the molds upside down on the rack to drain into the pan. Turn the oven off and let them sit there until cooled to room temperature.
Once your canelé molds are seasoned, you need to coat the interior with ‘white oil’. To make the white oil, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the beeswax and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Use a pastry brush to lightly but evenly brush the interiors of the molds with the white oil, allowing excess to drop out. You want to do this while the white oil is still hot and melted because that will get you the most even coating, but be careful as this will also make the mold hot as your holding and rotating it to brush the inside. Place the brushed molds upside down on a wire rack over a sheet of paper towels to cool and allow any excess to drip off.
Now you can make the canelés! Scrape out the inside of the vanilla bean over a small saucepan filled with the milk. Add the vanilla bean husk to the pot and place over medium low heat. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is 183 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons butter. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and cardamom in a medium bowl and set them aside. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, rum, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and orange blossom water until combined.
Whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture, then whisk the warm milk mixture in as well. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 48 hours before baking.