Excuse me for being crass a moment but living gluten-free is one gigantic pain in the arse. Daddums is into month 3 and he’s struggling. I really don’t want to go into his specific medical history but I will say he is a rather unusual case of coeliac disease and had not one symptom before his diagnosis so the perceived gain by becoming gluten free is eluding him and instead, he is suffering now and losing weight even as he adapts to a new life. When he came to stay recently I did my homework and planned a lot of home cooked gluten free meals and sweets to spoil him with. He was over the moon at having food which was palatable if not actually enjoyable once again and he might have overindulged on these particular little delicacies. May I give you, canelés.
Not traditionally a gluten free treat, I’m thrilled to tell you they worked first time without significant modification to the recipe. Eureka! I modified a recipe from my foodie friend Hannah and apart from exchanging the plain flour for a gluten free one (Doves Farm) all I did was increase the milk to a pint as gluten free flours, so I am told, absorb more liquid than wheat flour. I didn’t want to risk a solid lump instead of a feather light delight. Truth be told, the big issue with making bread or cake without that pesky little protein gluten all non-coeliacs take for granted, is that textures and keep-ability suffers a lot with all too many recipes. Don’t get me wrong, I am discovering things bit by bit which are just as good as those with gluten but it’s a slow process. Fortunately ice cream tends to be naturally gluten free so at least there is one dessert I can pull out for Daddums which doesn’t leave him with a mouth gummed up with a claggy mess as he’s had happen all too much of late.
I suspect a lot of us in the UK are not familiar with the canelé – I wasn’t until Hannah mentioned them that I even heard of them. Little known outside of France, I certainly didn’t possess a printed recipe for them. They are a true delight and I am kicking myself on missing out all this time. To describe their taste, you need to know that they are essentially a sweet batter baked in tall, fluted cake moulds. There is a lot of rum in there as well as proper vanilla – they use both the seeds and bean. They have similarities to the deep fried donut with their sweet, sugary, crisp crust. They give a nod and a wink to pancakes being a simple batter with eggs and milk rather than a yeasted pastry or cake with traditional raising agents. Most surprisingly to me anyway is, they remind me of the very classic and British through and through egg custard tart! Despite having no pastry case, the long baking time in a hot oven gives a crisp and ever so slightly chewy exterior which encases the most voluptuous yet aerated sweet, vanillary custard middle. If like me, you can’t stand the trad egg custard because for their intense egginess and not enough sweetness to offset it, then I implore you to give canelés a chance. It took two batches to get the photos as they had barely been turned out before the family hoovered each one up – they were gone in a matter of minutes both times, hence me sneakily baking batch two before anyone had got out of bed. Mwuahaha 😉
As well as owing thanks to Hannah, I have KitchenCraft to thank for this recipe which my Daddums loved so much (as did the non-coeliacs in my family I hasten to add). I’m proud to review their products on my blog. As my Press Page will tell you, my opinions are always my own and especially so in this case. My kitchen was long the home to many, many of their products so when they approached me to work with them, I didn’t have to think at all – I was already singing their praises to anyone who would listen! In this case, their canelés pan was languishing in my baking tin box for a bit longer than intended but I can tell you it will be out and about in my kitchen regularly from now on! I love how heavy duty it is, especially as canelés cook in a very hot oven for quite a prolonged period and cheap bakeware would buckle and distort under such circumstances. Similar to NordicWare, their nonstick coating is superb too. I sprayed mine with rapeseed oil (my preferred lubricant for all my baking tins) and it left a bit of a patina but this just meant batch number two practically fell out of the pan! My only criticism is it only makes 9 at a time – this recipe is enough for 18 and given how moreish they are, you better order two* or else be fast to get yours first as they come hot from the oven! 45 minutes will seem an eternity and eat cake will seem too small to satisfy the desire for just one more canelé. They are certainly too addictive for me to get a shot of their tender middle bits – to take a bite then pause is more self restraint than anyone in my family possesses.
*= I am pleased to see more recherché cake pans as for canelés, friands, fancy bundts of every sort are starting to sneak their way into cookware shops across UK. My local independent one starting selling friand pans after I went in whinging I couldn’t find them anywhere! If you are in the UK too, I would recommend trying TK Maxx, Lakeland, Amazon and eBay for canelés pans – I prefer tins to silicone but you may find silicone easier to get. If you are a due a very special treat, then Mauviel make stunning individual copper moulds but a set of 18 would set you back over £300!
- 1 pint whole milk 568mls or 2¼ cups
- 1 vanilla bean
- 30 g soft butter
- 180 g caster sugar
- 100 g gluten free plain flour
- 3 eggs
- Fat pinch of sea salt
- 80 ml dark rum
Split your vanilla bean and scrap out the seeds – add to a saucepan with your pint of milk and bring to the boil. Once bubbling, add in the butter and take off the heat.
Whisk the sugar, flour, eggs and salt until just combined in a large jug or bowl and then switch to a spatula to incorporate the milk, vanilla and butter. You aren’t trying to whisk in air, just get the ingredients amalgamated. Sieve back into the pan then back into the jug or bowl. You want this batter silky smooth.
Stir in the rum and then cover. Once cool, pop in the fridge for at least two days (I wouldn’t leave it longer than 3 days before baking, plus I’d be getting impatient enough on day 2!).
Prepare your pan/tins. If using a nonstick pan like mine, spray with oil or brush with butter lightly. If using traditional copper moulds, they must be seasoned first and authentic recipes will tell you to use beeswax to do this but quite frankly, a set of 18 copper canelés moulds would put me in debtors jail, so I haven’t tried these, sadly! Silicone moulds should be brushed with oil or butter too and are best used on a preheated baking tray.
Preheat oven to 250°C.
Take the rested batter out of the fridge, remove the vanilla bean and stir to bring it back together – it will have settled and you need to redistribute the flour.
Pour into your prepared tins/moulds, filling to about 7-8 mm short of the top of the mould to give room for the rise and fall as they bake, soufflé style. Bake for 15 minutes at this high temperature. Turn the oven down to 200°C and bake for another 35-45 minutes (it will depend on which type of tin or mould you are using – the size and material will cause cooking times to vary and it would be best to peek at 25-30 minutes. You want them deeply caramelised around the edges, not burnt.)
Allow to sit for a few minutes before turning out onto a rack and then be warned – the middles will be über hot so they do need to stand for 10 minutes or risk burning your tongue. Which never happened to me… Honest… 😉
Adapted from my friend Hannah de Bevy