18 February 2014

Post image for Cannelés

If you have ever travelled to France, you may have come across these little specialty cakes called cannelés. Unlike their more successfully exported cousins, the madeleines and macarons, cannelés are not so well known outside of France. Yet within France, they are a delicacy.

These little scalloped cakes have a crisp, caramelised coating with a slightly chewy and soft, custardy centre. The contrast in texture between the crunchy exterior and sweet interior make these cakes, in a word, addictive.

Some foodie friends were recently discussing recipes for cannelés, when it dawned on me that I actually owned a frightfully expensive copper set of cannelés moulds, purchased during a trip to Paris with good intentions but, 10 years later, still remained bright and shiny in their unused condition. Although, when I first bought the moulds, I was rather dismayed to later find that recipes for cannelés were rare; none of my cookbooks on French cuisine (both in English and French) had a recipe for these cakes, whilst most online recipes were not so inviting.

canneles 1

A few years ago, I came across this comprehensive blog post by Chez Pim, who recounts the complexity of making cannelés at home and gives her insider tips on how to make the perfect cannelés, such as using the right amount of beeswax to coat the moulds, freezing the copper moulds before use, and adjusting the oven temperature three times during the baking process. Despite feeling better informed about these finicky cakes, when I was done reading Pim’s post, I was exhausted and couldn’t face the idea of actually attempting the recipe; there were too many variables and I didn’t feel confident with a recipe which was so fraught with failure.

So not only was I surprised to find a recipe for cannelés in Rachel Khoo’s latest cookbook, My Little French Kitchen, but she claimed to have a foolproof recipe using … cheap silicone moulds. Now, not all of my attempts at Rachel Khoo’s baking recipes have rendered positive results (although I’ve had far more successes than failures with her recipes), so I was a little skeptical at first. But when presented with the opportunity to use my long-forgotten copper cannelés moulds, I was anxious to conduct a little experiment of my own.

Despite my hesitation towards silicone cake moulds in general, I picked up a cheap silicone cannelés mould when we were in France over Christmas. Upon arriving back in Zurich, I proceeded to attempt Rachel Khoo’s recipe, first using the silicone moulds as per her recipe, and then with the copper moulds. And without intending to, I suddenly fell into an addiction.

The first batch of cannelés made using silicone moulds turned out exceedingly well. They were crisp and caramelised on the outside, with the right amount of burnish and with the requisite soft, custardy interior. The contrast in taste and texture between the sweet, crunchy crust and squidgy inside made them moreish and plainly addictive. They were so good that, after helping me to devour them in the space of a day, my husband begged me not to make anymore; he could apparently feel his arteries clogging.

But I forged ahead with my experiment, and the second batch made with copper moulds disappeared so quickly that I didn’t even have a chance to photograph them. Nor did I get a chance with the third and fourth batch.

canneles 4

Rachel Khoo’s recipe is straightforward with no fuss – no beeswax, no freezing. You do have to make the batter up to 2 days ahead of time to allow the gluten to relax and swell, but this happens to be an advantage if, for example, you plan on serving these to guests and want to get some of the preparation done in advance. I was so surprised by how well my first batch turned out with the silicone mould that I was actually somewhat nervous to use the copper moulds, lest they turned out to be inferior and a waste of money.

But the cannelés made using copper moulds were more crisp on the outside and tasted just as divine. Due to the butter which is used to grease the copper moulds, this batch did have a slightly buttery aftertaste compared to the batch made using the silicone mould but, overall, it was hard to judge which was better. As the copper moulds conduct heat much better than their silicone counterpart, the cannelés have a crispier coating and also remain crisp for longer. However, I found (over many batches) that, if you heat the silicone mould until it is quite hot (i.e. to the point where it is almost smoking), you can achieve a similar crispy exterior.

Perhaps the best way to conclude is that you can absolutely make delicious cannelés using silicone moulds. Indeed, if you plan to make a large batch, it would be more economical to use silicone moulds, rather than purchase the individual copper moulds which can cost up to $30 each.

If the copper moulds are out of your budget, you can read about Chez Pim’s experiment using different silicone cannelés moulds. I purchased a relatively cheap silicone mould in France by Guy Degrenne and would highly recommend this one. The regular-sized cannelés moulds tend to have 8 holes; if they have more or less than 8 holes, the cakes will be bigger or smaller than what is usual, so you will have to adjust the baking time accordingly.

So here is yet another successful recipe from Rachel Khoo. She promised that her recipe would produce the perfect cannelés every time and I now have an addiction to prove it. Next on my wish-list, a mini cannelés mould

Recipe adapted from My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo
Makes 16 regular-sized cannelés

canneles-recipe-1 canneles-recipe-2
canneles-recipe-3 canneles-recipe-4
canneles-recipe-5 canneles-recipe-6
canneles-recipe-7 canneles-recipe-8

Cook’s Notes

If you are using copper cannelés moulds for the first time, you will need to season them first. This comprehensive webpage covers all you need to know about cannelés, as well as instructions for seasoning your new moulds (scroll down towards the bottom of the page).

Many recipes will tell you to avoid getting too much air into the batter and, therefore, to not use a whisk. I wasn’t aware of this before conducting my experiment, and used a whisk with no detrimental effect. However, I would recommend whisking the batter only very gently. If there is too much air in your batter, the cakes risk rising like a soufflé and perhaps overspilling. During baking, the cakes will rise slightly (like a soufflé), but they should fall back down again during the baking process.

Part of the joy of these cakes is the crisp, caramelised coating. To achieve this, the cakes will need to be baked until quite brown and golden, but not so much that they are burnt. Check the colour after the specified time in the recipe and, if you need to bake them for longer, keep checking at 5 minute intervals or so.

If you don’t own a copper or silicone cannelés mould, at a pinch, you could use a non-stick mini Bundt tin or a muffin tin and follow the same instructions as for the copper moulds.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar 18 February 2014 at 2:31 pm

These are so pretty!! Annnnnd loving the photos! xx


eat, little bird 18 February 2014 at 9:33 pm

Thanks, Katrina!


Caroline @ The Patterned Plate 18 February 2014 at 3:02 pm

I was waiting on this post and the photos don’t disappoint! I read Chez Pim’s blog post as well, and like you, was left feeling even more bewildered than before! I have a silicone mould and have been wanting to try these out a second time (the first outing was a bit of a disaster!) It’s so worth the effort though. You’ve inspired me, again! Shall be getting a batch prepped before the end of the week :) Wonderful post Thanh!


eat, little bird 18 February 2014 at 9:37 pm

Oh your first attempt wasn’t so bad! I think Rachel Khoo’s recipe is not too dissimilar to Hannah’s recipe. I’m going to try Hannah’s recipe next time, or at least up the rum content like hers ;-) And lucky you that M brought you a silicone cannelés mould when she visited – sounds like she had a big bag of goodies for you on that trip!


Eileen 18 February 2014 at 7:06 pm

These look so beautiful! I am not much of a pastry cook, but I may have to find a couple molds and give these guys a try. :)


eat, little bird 18 February 2014 at 9:38 pm

They look fancy and a bit complicated, but I found this recipe for cannelés to be pretty straightforward, especially if you are using a silicone mould. Good luck!


Anna's Kitchen Table 18 February 2014 at 8:10 pm

Thanh, these are just stunning – the canneles and the photographs! I’m happy to read that you had much success with the silicone moulds too, because I’ve bought silicone friand tins to make your lemon friands and was a little worried that they would be somehow inferior to the ‘proper’ tins.
Great post, Thanh!


eat, little bird 18 February 2014 at 9:44 pm

Thank you, Anna! I don’t normally have much success with silicone moulds but have received quite a few as gifts. Actually, they tend to work much better as toys for a 1 year old, especially during periods of teething! ;-) That said, I have one Tupperware silicone tart mould which I use specifically for a Tupperware recipe and it works a treat. This cannelés mould would have to be my second successful silicone mould, so I suppose much depends on the recipe which you are using, and perhaps also the quality of the silicone mould itself.

I believe J used a silicone mould when he made the lemon drizzle friands? I hope they will work for your friands – please let me know once you’ve tried :-) Good luck!


Anna's Kitchen Table 19 February 2014 at 10:51 am

Thanks Thanh, I’ll let you know once I’ve tried them :) xx


Jennifer @ Delicious Everyday 18 February 2014 at 11:22 pm

Would you believe I’ve never eaten canneles, but I desperately want to now after seeing your gorgeous canneles. I wonder if I can get my hands on moulds here in Australia. Gorgeous photos Thanh!


eat, little bird 19 February 2014 at 11:03 am

I don’t think I ever saw cannelés in Brisbane, even at the lovely bakery at the James St Markets which used to sell Paris-Brest when I lived there. I would be curious to know if cannelés moulds are available in Australia. Maybe at a specialty store such as The Executive Chef in South Brisbane? I just checked their website which shows that they sell the silicone cannelés moulds, but that they are currently out of stock:

I love that store … I used to spend all of my money there!


Rushi 19 February 2014 at 10:41 am

I never never thought of making cannelés at home but thanks to you I think I just might. Have you tried financiers, I got a mix (chocolate, pistachios and vanilla) and couldn’t stop snacking on ‘em. Well I’m guessing another trip to E. Dehillerin is due to check if they have these copper moulds., I’m guessing it’ll cost me a fortune but I’d like to have a couple. Is there a Guy Degrenne store in Printemps? Must stop by to have a look.
Another wonderful post Thanh! Bravo!


eat, little bird 19 February 2014 at 11:09 am

Hi Rushi,
I never thought I would cook or bake certain things at home, but once you live somewhere where you don’t have access to your favourite foods, you find yourself making lots of crazy things at home!

I’ve seen these copper cannelés moulds at Dehillerin and they cost about EUR 9 each, I think. You will need 8 to make most recipes, unless you make a small batch at a time. I think Printemps and Galeries Lafayette have a good selection of items from Guy Degrenne. I think it’s a rather commonly available brand in France and I actually found my mould in a small kitchenware store in Brittany. Actually, in France, you are spoilt for choice because silicone cannelés moulds are sold in almost every kitchenware store!

And funny you should mention financiers … I have a post lined up on these lovely little cakes ;-)


Rushi 20 February 2014 at 11:59 am

I can’t wait for your post on the financiers…. I’m so excited :D

France has opened my eyes to a different world of cooking and I’m glad. I do miss the food back home but each country has their peaks… Thanks for the tip on the copper cannelés moulds, I’ll be sure to buy atleast 8.



Paula 19 February 2014 at 4:39 pm

Yes, yes, yes, Bordeaux – cannelés. To die for combo!! In fact, I’ve always wanted madeleines and cannelés pan. And when I see, they are always “together”, and as I can’t decide which to buy, I don’t buy any, or would have to buy both.
Yes, now you can call me idiot :P

In despite of all that, I fear making cannelés. The preparation is so ‘different’ that terrifies me not to do right. Although it’s that, of course, what it make them so different in texture :P

I supposed silicone will be very crisp, as always with silicone, and that’s another doubt I have with the bought. But still, one day I’ll fall into temptation!! But I still with be green with envy, cos your copper ones are sooooo cute!!

But, hey, I’ve mini cannelés, my best friend gave it to me this Christmas, I hope I don’t wait 10 years as you, but I don’t use it yet, I find easier using a medium pan.

Thanks for sharing, I’ll save your recipe in a good good place :P


eat, little bird 19 February 2014 at 5:36 pm

You have a mini cannelés pan?? I want one too! You could definitely try this recipe with your mini cannelés pan, but you will have to bake them for less time. I promise you that making cannelés is not difficult at all. It’s like making a pancake batter, but then leaving it in the fridge for a few days before filling your silicone mould, and voilà!

When I lived in Australia, I had a bigger kitchen, so buying lots of cake tins was not really a problem. But since living in Zurich, our kitchen here is tiny, tiny, and most of my cake tins are now stored in the basement!

If ever I can’t decide between two things, I just buy both ;-) It’s easier that way ;-)


Paula 20 February 2014 at 7:19 pm

Coincidentally, today a friend has lent me her (two!!) cannelés molds. This weekend I have work!!!

Both are silicone, I hope I don’t damage them for not greasing them or something like that. I’ll tell you about my cannelés!! :P

Yesterday, I read Chez Pim’s post, it’s wonderful, thanks for sharing :P


eat, little bird 21 February 2014 at 10:17 am

How exciting! I hope you will enjoy this recipe :-) There’s no need to grease the silicone moulds. You will find that the cakes will come out very easily once they are baked. Good luck! Can’t wait to hear about the results.


Carmen MARTIN RUIZ 21 February 2014 at 1:25 pm

Oooh I love them!! I have the silicom one and i use two recipes…i will try for sure this one. Thanks!


Eat, Little Bird 2 March 2014 at 8:58 pm

I would be curious to know how this recipe compares to the ones you already use. Good luck!


The Food Sage 25 February 2014 at 10:47 am

A very well researched article and lovely way with words: i love the following line “These little scalloped cakes have a crisp, caramelised coating with a slightly chewy and soft, custardy centre.” Very poetic. Lovely work.


Eat, Little Bird 2 March 2014 at 8:59 pm

Thanks, Rachel! I don’t always write about my background research when trying out new recipes, but thought it was worthwhile doing so for this particular recipe.


Neus 19 March 2014 at 11:07 am

Ohh! I love your blog, amazing pictures and delicious desserts I would ask you a question: Where you bought the cooling rack and metal molds? Love it!
In Spain there is so pretty and I would like to buy products.

Thank you very much!


Eat, Little Bird 20 March 2014 at 12:51 pm

I’m happy to hear that you are enjoying my blog :-)

I bought the cooling rack in Australia from the Donna Hay store, but you can find it online here.

And the copper cannelés moulds are from Dehillerin in Paris. Although, you can try to find them at a specialty kitchenware store, or online at Amazon or Meilleur du Chef in France.

Hope this helps!


SNEHAL WAICHAL 9 July 2014 at 12:27 pm

Recently I had been to Paris and got to eat these Canneles. These are just yummy and have no words to explain as I love any type of pudding. I am so desperate to make them .
But can you please tell me the replacement for Rum as i want to make it a non alcoholic one? Or Is it necessary to use rum?
Thank you very much for this recipe ..


Eat, Little Bird 9 July 2014 at 1:45 pm

I think you could leave out the rum without any effect on the recipe. Although, I’ve never tried this recipe without the rum so I can’t say for sure. The rum is there to add a certain flavour to the cake and, as it is a fairly small quantity, I think you could leave it out without any problem. I hope you will enjoy this recipe!


SNEHAL WAICHAL 9 July 2014 at 9:40 pm

Thank you for your reply. I will definitely try this without using rum and let you know the result.


Bea 19 October 2014 at 2:48 am

I make these all the time. I love them. I use the copper molds and they are perfect all the time but I didn’t know about the high heat then lowering the temperature after a few minutes. I will definitely try that next time to see any difference. I watched Pascal Rigo make them and I was totally hooked. I have 18 molds and use honey and butter to coat the molds. Thanks for sharing! I really want to see if the temp makes a difference. According to Pascal you put them in the oven and walk away for 55 minute s. It has always turned out perfect. I am new to your site and I love it!!


jennie Blakely 4 February 2015 at 8:56 am

This looks so yummy! and I’m gonna try this on this coming Valentines day :).
and i think it well be better for me to try using several silicone products for this and make a heart shape for the molds for the perfect outcome and combination :) .


Suad 17 March 2015 at 9:10 pm

Hi, my husband loves cannelés but I always thought they were too complicated to make. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ll defintely need to give them a try now! Especially since I have the silicon moulds :)

On another note, I love the layout if your blog! Did you do if yourself? I love your pictures and the fait that you fan write on them! :)


Eat, Little Bird 19 March 2015 at 9:28 am

Nothing complicated at all about cannelés if you follow this recipe ;-) I would love to hear if this recipe works well for you. I make them quite often now, using both the silicone and copper moulds (so I can make more at one time) and my husband always prefers the ones made in the silicone moulds.

And thank you for your commments about my blog layout :-) Yes, I did do the design myself using the Wordpress Thesis theme. The theme is a bit outdated but maybe one day I will get around to updating the site again!


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