Tag Archives: baking

Cannelés de Bordeaux

image1Since I have been spending a lot of time in Paris for work, I have become a lunch enthusiast.  When I’m in Brussels I hardly ever find time for lunch and when I do you’ll find me chewing on some sad sandwich in front of my computer.  My new found fondness for the lunch hour ‘might’ have something to do with the fact that French people drink wine at lunch (bonus!) and always have dessert (double bonus!).  During one of these lunches I was introduced to Cannelés de Bordeaux and ever since I have been obsessed with them.  I’ve tortured my French accountant to give me her recipe (merci Sophie!) and I must say … they are delicious.

A cannelé is a little cake which is crispy on the outside and has a pancake consistency on the inside (European style pancake, not the US style ones).   There is one thing you’ll love about this recipe and one thing you’ll hate.  You’ll love the fact that you have to eat them the day you make them because they lose their crispiness after a couple of hours.  So no excuses, the whole batch needs to be devoured!  Trust me, I have tried everything to keep them crispy and nothing seems to work.  One of my colleagues, who is from the Bordeaux region assured me that even patisseries over there make them fresh every day because of this very reason.  Now for the thing you won’t like: you need to plan. Whenever you feel a cannelé craving coming along you can’t just make them.  The batter needs to rest for at least 12 hours (24 hours or 36 hours is even better).  The cannelé batter is similar to pancake batter and the longer you let it rest the better it gets.  It has something to do with air bubbles and gluten, all things that I don’t understand but I have tested it and it’s true: you need to wait at least 12 hours.  There are eggs in this so I wouldn’t go beyond 36 hours of resting time.  Don’t be surprised at the fact that the batter is very liquid, this is normal.

In the version below I add brown rum, this is the traditional way of making them.  If you like a change or you don’t want to put alcohol in them you can add orange flower essence (same amount as the rhum in the recipe below).

You can find the molds to make cannelés in any basic cooking shop.  People will tell you that it is a sin to use silicone molds and that the only way to go is using copper molds.  However, these are crazy expensive and silicone works as well.  Next to the normal size molds, there are also molds for mini cannelé, I prefer these just because they are bite size.  For the mini versions, you just need to take into account that the cooking time is slightly reduced (otherwise you’ll end up with little black rocks instead of sweet crispy cannelés).

The recipe below will make 12 normal size cannelés and 24 mini cannelés.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons of brown rhum
  • 1/2 liter of full fat or semi skimmed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100 grams of flower
  • 250 grams of powdered sugar (you can use normal caster sugar as well, powdered sugar is easier to mix in)
  • 50 grams of butter
  • a pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Put the butter and vanilla essence in the milk and gently heat up the milk so that the butter melts.
  • Once the butter is melted and the milk is hot, turn off the heat so the mixture can cool down somewhat (we’ll mix eggs into this and if the mixture is too hot you obtain scrambled eggs).
  • Put the eggs, egg yolks and powdered sugar in a bowl and with a wisk mix them together until the mixture slightly turns white.
  • Add the flower and salt to the egg mixture and mix well.
  • Now, whilst stirring the egg/sugar/flower/salt batter add the hot milk mixture, keep stirring until there are no more lumps.
  • Poor the batter in a containers and let it rest in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
  • When you are ready to bake preheat your oven for 15 minutes on 250°C.  Poor the batter into the molds and bake them for 20 minutes on 250°C.  This will ensure the cannelés are crispy.  Then turn the heat down to 180°C and leave them for another 40 minutes in the oven.
  • After this take them out and leave them in the silicone molds to FULLY cool.
  • Once cooled down you will be able to pop them out of the molds easily … AND EAT THEM!

I hope you enjoy them!

Let’s eat!

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Wonderful Welsh cakes

Welsh  Cakes I don’t know what the weather has been like in your neck of the woods but after a glorious week of sunshine, it rained most of the weekend. Ideal weather for some baking (and eating)!  I keep a box in which I throw recipes I come across that are interesting and that I might want to try.  The other day I was rummaging through it and I found a handwritten recipe for Welsh cakes which was handed down to me by one of my former work colleagues.  She is Welsh and whenever she used to go to Wales for a visit her mother would make a batch of these babies for the office and that is how I discovered them.  Surprisingly I had never tried to make them so this weekend I got the flour, sugar and butter out and I gave it a go, much to the delight of my husband.

The best way to describe Welsh cakes is to say that they are the size of a cookie, but thicker and consistency wise they are in between a pancake and a scone.  Traditionally they contain spice (cinnamon or mixed spice) and raisins.  It is a very simple dough to make but what takes some time is baking them: they are cooked on a griddle (or in a pan if you don’t have a griddle).  They are not overly sweet; it is the powdered sugar at the end that gives them a sweet touch.

The recipe below makes 30 to 40 of them (depending on their size) and they keep a couple of days in an airtight container.

Ingredients

  • 500 grams of self raising flour
  • 80 grams of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (you can also use mixed spice)
  • 300 grams of butter
  • 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt
  • 150 grams of raisins
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of milk (any kind – full fat, semi skimmed or skimmed)
  • 2 tablespoons of normal flour

Instructions

Welsh Cakes

  • Mix the self raising flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon together.
  • Cut 250 grams of butter into 1-2 cm squares.
  • Add the butter to the dry ingredients and use your hands to rub the flour and butter together until you get small crumbs. This is the same technique that is used to make crumble topping, but here you need to ensure that the crumbs are quite small.
  • Add the raisins and mix.
  • Crack open the egg in a small bowl and beat it slightly till the yolk and white is combined and then incorporate the egg into the dough.  At this point you will already notice that the dough will come together but it will need some additional moisture.
  • Of the two tablespoons of milk add one and work the dough some more, if the dough is still a bit too dry or not all the flour is incorporated, add the second tablespoon of milk.  At this point you’ll obtain a cookie like dough, which is slightly dry and will crack easily: don’t worry this is the way it should be.  Once the dough has come together, it is not necessary to knead it any further.
  • To make the roll out process easier, cut the dough in three equal parts.
  • Put some of the normal flour on a clean kitchen surface and put some on your rolling pin.  Roll out the dough until it is about 1 cm thick.
  • Take a cookie cutter and cut out shapes.  Repeat this until you have used all the dough.
  • Put a pan on medium heat and let a little bit of butter melt in the pan (like maybe 15 grams of butter).  Don’t use too much butter, the goal is merely to grease the pan and add some flavor to the cakes.
  • Once the butter is melted you put in a batch of Welsh cakes and fry/cook/bake them for 3 minutes each side.  You will see that after 3 minutes they will have a nice brown crust and then you flip them over.  Don’t be tempted to cook them longer as they will burn and turn out dry.  Ideally they should still be a bit moist in the center.  If you want to do a test run, you start out with one cake and see how it goes.
  • Let them cool down and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I hope you enjoy these cakes as much as we did.

Let’s eat!

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Lemon blueberry loaf/cake

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I am not a huge cake fan – any kind of dessert involving cake or sponge does not really get me very excited.  I especially don’t like tier cakes, they look beautiful (well at least the ones other people make, mine tend to look like a toddler’s craft project) but the combo of cake and then very rich icing is too much of a good thing for me.

After having said all that, I did come across a recipe that looked interesting.  I was browsing through Julia’s blog (great blog by the way … have a look for yourself: juliasalbum.com) and saw she made a lemon and blueberry loaf.  My husband being a lemon-o-holic at home, I was sure he was going to like it.  You can find Julia’s recipe here.

I used frozen berries which worked perfectly – I defrosted them quickly in the microwave (just defrost them, don’t leave them too long in the microwave or they will turn to mush) and added them to the batter.  The other thing I changed was I doubled the lemon glaze quantity because I did two rounds of drizzling to make sure there was a nice thick layer of glaze on top of it – I like sugar, what can I say?

The cake/loaf has the consistency of a muffin, which for a cake hater like me is great.  I was really delicious.

Ingredients

Loaf/cake

  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Lemon glaze:
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

Loaf/cake

  • Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.
  • Butter an 8×4 inch loaf pan, line the bottom and two sides of the pan with the parchment paper.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, 1 cup sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk.
  • In the same bowl where you combined flour, add blueberries and toss them in 2 tablespoons of flour. This will help prevent blueberries from sinking.
  • Fold in lemon zest, and blueberries into the batter. Do it carefully and fast. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pan for 40 minutes on a wire rack. Release the bread from the pan.

Lemon glaze

  • Combine freshly squeezed lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and beat, using electrical mixer, until smooth glaze forms .
  • Drizzle the top of the bread (after it’s been completely cooled) with the glaze. Some of the glaze will go down the sides of the bread.

Let’s eat!

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