A well-made canele is a thing of beauty. There’s nothing else quite like it. It has an almost chewy crust from the thin layer of beeswax that coats the molds and the inner crumb is moist and tender. The batter is similar to a crepe batter and the preparation hinges on a few key steps. One is a gentle mixing process that doesn’t aerate the batter. The second is letting it rest for at least 24 hours so that the flour is completely hydrated and the flavors have time to develop before baking. The third step is coating the molds with a very thin layer of beeswax and butter. If the layer is too thick it will stick to your teeth and leave a lingering aftertaste that undermines the delicate flavor of the cake. The trick is making sure that both the beeswax mixture and your molds are hot when you bring them together. Tongs are your friends in this endeavor. Cornflakes and Bourbon may seem like unorthodox flavorings for canele but the very best techniques lend themselves to adaptation. In the end the only that matters is that they taste delicious.
Corn Flakes Caneles
Makes 10-12 caneles
100 grams/ 3 1/3 cups corn flakes
520 grams/ 2 cups milk
28 grams/ 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
130 grams/ ½ cup honey
100 grams/ 2/3 up all purpose flour
50 grams/ ¼ cup sugar
6 grams/ 1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs + 2 large yolks
60 grams/ ¼ cup Knob Creek Bourbon
0.25 grams/ ¼ teaspoon Bokers Bitters
225 grams/ 8 ounces food grade beeswax (we bought ours from Amazon)
225 grams/ 8 ounces unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350°F/ 176°C
Lay the cornflakes out on a sheet pan and bake them for 5 minutes until they turn a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a medium saucepot. Add the 500 grams milk and set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the solids and weigh out 500 grams of cornflake milk. Add a little bit of plain milk if there is not quite enough.
Put the cornflake milk, butter and honey in a medium saucepot set over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Remove from heat. Meanwhile put the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and whisk them together a few times to blend. Put the eggs and yolks in a small bowl. Beat them gently with a fork just until they come together in a homogenous mixture. Pour the eggs into the flour mixture and then pour the milk over the eggs, stirring with a rubber spatula to incorporate them. Stir gently until the mixture comes together in a smooth batter. Add the bourbon and the bitters and stir until just incorporated. Put the batter in the refrigerator uncovered until it is completely cool, then cover it and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 250°F/121°C
Line a baking pan with parchment paper, set a rack over the paper and put the canele molds on the rack. Put the pan in the oven. Put the beeswax and the butter in a medium saucepot set over low heat. The beeswax is extremely hard and rather than trying to chop it we put it in the pot as a chunk. Once the beeswax and butter have melted and come together, pull the pan with the molds out of the oven and set it on the range beside the pot of beeswax. Use tongs to pick up a mold and use a small ladle to spoon the beeswax mixture into the mold. Fill it top the top and then immediately turn it over and dump the wax back in the pan. Let as much run out as possible and then invert the mold over the rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining molds. Put the molds in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour before baking. Coated molds may be covered and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Leftover beeswax/butter can be chilled and kept in a covered container in the freezer until needed for the next batch.
Preheat the oven to 475°F/246°C
Take the canele batter out of the refrigerator. It will have separated, use a small rubber spatula to stir it a few times to bring it back into a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared molds filling them ¾ of the way to the top. Place them on a sheet pan lined with a silicone sheet leaving about 2-inchs of space between each mold. Put them on the lower rack in the oven and turn the temperature down to 410°F/210°C. Bake for 40 minutes and then rotate the pan and bake for an additional 20 minutes. They should be a deep, dark golden brown. Use tongs to immediately invert and unmold each cake and then gently transfer them to a rack to cool. Caneles are best eaten the day they are made.
*Silicone sheets are good for more than just cookies. When you use them to line the pans underneath cakes, pies, custards or other baked goods they provide an even layer of heat underneath whatever you’re baking to help facilitate consistent cooking and help ensure great results.