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What is a Canele de Bordeaux (Cannele Bordelais)?
By Renee Shelton

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canele cannele

Canelés are creamy, bittersweet baked confections that sometimes hard to find in bakeries. The burnt or heavily caramelized sugar exterior gives them their characteristic flavor that pairs well with the smooth and sweet interior.

For anyone wanting to know more about this delectable treat, I would refer them to an article in Food Arts magazine, July/August 2001 edition, entitled "France's Little Cake That Could," and written by Paula Wolfert. It's a great read: if you do not have that issue on hand, purchase a back issue from somewhere. Wolfert writes about the mystery surrounding them, and the history and tales behind them on her website. She gives a detailed recipe and shares her cook's notes including her "white oil" recipe for coating the pans. Her recipe and an article on these from one of her books can be found here: Canele de Bordeaux.

According to the article, canelé is the official cake of the city of Bordeaux. The 'varietal' name, so to speak, or the name given to the cakes not deviating from the original recipe, is canelé de Bordeaux while cannelé bordelais is the name of the dessert that can be used anywhere and incorporating differences to the original recipe, such as adding flavorings like chocolate or other garnishes to the batter.

In 1985, a group of French pastry chefs and cooks formed a group stemming from the seemingly eruption of popularity for these tiny caramelized grooved cakes and all the variations from the original recipe that popped up. They established a unifying name, canelé with one 'n', and setting on one basic recipe that separates it from all the others. Canelés are those treats that can be found in Bordeaux strictly baked by-the-book. Cannelé with two n's is any version of canelé that is not 100% true to the secret recipe. Wolfert, in the Food Arts article, gives an easy way to remember the spelling: one /n/ for the original and two /n's/ for any other version other than the original.

Wolfert writes in her Food Arts article that the cakes are

a magical bakery confection, a cake endowed with a rich custardy interior enclosed by a thin caramelized shell...Nearly black at first sight and bittersweet at first bite, the crunchy burnt sugar shell makes an exquisite complement to the smooth sweet filling fragrant with vanilla and rum.

About what they are baked in and how they are baked, she further writes

the general recipe calls for a cold batter to be poured into an ice-cold fluted, tin-lined copper mold, then placed in a very hot oven and baked for a very long time...Many pâtissiers line their molds with a film of "white oil" containing beeswax.

A canelé mold is a small individual, grooved mold that can be found in a variety of materials. Below are some examples of what they look like.

Canelein copper
Canele in silicone

And just what is beeswax? Beeswax is a natural product, collected after harvesting honey. Beeswax can be found from honey farmers, and below are a couple of bee farms that sell beeswax via the internet.

Tahuya River Apiaries Washington state, US
Bees Neez Apiaries Beechina, Australia


Links to try:

Cannelés Bordelais
From FXcuisine, a step-by-step class on making Cannelés Bordelais with pictures from Lenôtre. Be sure to click the underlined words as these all show detailed pictures (like pouring the wax into each mold)

Qu'est-ce que le canelé?
For those who speak/read in French: a step-by-step French instruction on making them at home, fully with pictures and recipe.

Information on the canelé (all in French).

Information on the Canelé from

From eGullet, here is a canele forum that is great to scroll through. Read what others have said and learn from their trials and tribulations, recipes, pictures, what works and what doesn't. Great talking points on the subject of the canele; long running forum dates back to 2002.

Enjoy experimenting with these recipes!

From, a French site:

Cannelés Rapides
Cannelés de bordeaux
Cannelés Bordelais

A photo of what they look like: Cannelés Bordelais

From the Chocolate & Zucchini blog, a great conversation all about them (scroll down to read all the comments). From the site this picture shows what they look like on the inside.

References used and sites accessed:

Wolfert, Paula. "France's Little Cake That Could". Food Arts July/August 2001 edition.

BLOG Marmiton: le Cannelés de Gloria. "LES CANNELÉS, par Gloria (publié le 14 juin 2005)". Site accessed 17 May 2006.
     <> As of 25 March 2008, this link was no longer active. La communauté des gourmands. "Cannelés bordelais." Site accessed 5 June 2005.
      =bordelais&startr=1&ContenuRecherche=0> Cannelés rapides. "Cannelés rapides." Site accessed 17May 2006.
        canneles&startr=1&ContenuRecherche=0> Recette Cannelés de bordeaux. "Cannelés de bordeaux." Site accessed 17 May 2006.
        cannele&startr=1&ContenuRecherche=1> Recette Cannelés bordelaise. "Cannelés bordelaise." Site accessed 17 May 2006.

Chocolate & Zucchini: Canelés. "Canelés." Site accessed 17 May 2006. Link was updated when accessed 25 March 2008.
     <> Recipes "Canelé de Bordeaux." Site accessed 26 March 2008.


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