Twice-told tales – Canelés au beurre noisette et au bourbon

Memories, PâtisserieA story about , , , , , , , Written on le Wednesday 08 April 2015.

[Brown butter and bourbon canelés]

There are stories that never get old, no matter how many times you tell them. Here is a collections of the ones I never-ever want to forget.

Every evening, we go to the pond by the house on the other side of the path. Just before the sun sets. From there, we overlook the far-away lake. But really, all I care for are the frog’s eggs floating on the surface not unlike tapioca or soaked basil seeds. For some reason I find them absolutely captivating, and I’m crossing my fingers for us to stay here long enough to see them turn into tadpoles.

One morning, Svante asked me if I had woken up early. I had, but I very well knew that he meant 4am early. Yes, he’d heard some noise coming from the forest.
After we’d had coffee, and a tartine of sourdough bread smeared with butter and topped with hard-boiled eggs and pickled herring, we put our gumboots on and walked through the moss and woods and snow.
As we followed the tracks, dipper and dipper into the woods, the three of us knew one thing for sure. It was a lynx.

Yesterday, as I was sitting on the front steps of the little house – my favourite morning spot to catch the sun and drink up that mug of too-hot coffee – Svante called me from the path. A few metres from us: two rådjur [deers, don’t ask me for the plural form of their Swedish names as I’m still very confused about it all] were eating the grass that the snow-melt made alive again.

The shooting stars we see at night. When it’s so dark we can almost make out the Milky Way.

Every morning, I wake up early. The oven gets turned on and the loaf of bread – of dough, really – that has been slowly fermenting in the fridge overnight, is taken out and left on the counter. Some days, I’ll make coffee. Others, I go back to bed with a book, and – more often than not – I fall back asleep for an hour or so.
The bread goes in the oven and I patiently wait. One morning, we carried firewood from the shelter where it dries up to the main house. On a wheelbarrow. Another time, we went on the rock at the top of the road, where you can watch the sun rise, almost like no other place I’ve ever been.


Bonus campagne tale: I’ve found out that it’s actually way easier to drive on snow and ice rather than mud. The rest should probably remain untold.

canelés side

Canelés au beurre noisette et au bourbon
Adapted from Pierre Hermé.

I didn’t grow up eating canelés. In fact, I can’t even remember the first time I ever had one. But if I was to guess, I’d say it came frozen, from a box of miniature ones found at Picard (and if you’re not French, I should ad Picard is a frozen-product shop found in pretty much every city).

But somehow, they’ve always seemed fascinating. A crisp almost-burnt-but-not-quite crust and custard-like crumb.

I can’t say I’ve tried a lot of recipes, as when I first tried the ones at Pierre Hermé – back in the summer 2007 during the three-month stage that would change my life – I never even wanted to look back.
Yes, Pierre Hermé’s recipe is my favourite.
I’ve made them traditional, with Tahiti vanilla and aged rum. Or at times, with chocolate in the batter too. Even some pumpkin and cinnamon ones, replacing the milk with roasted pumpkin flesh and a large tablespoon of milk powder, and adding bourbon and brown butter.
I loved this combination so much that I’ve decided to make some simpler ones today.

I’m not going to lie, it’s not quite easy to get them right. But here are a few notes that will help you get those beauties perfect every single time.

1. The batter must be made in advance. In a pinch, I’ve made it rest for only an hour with great results, but they are considerably better if the batter is left to rest at room temperature for at least 12 hours or in the fridge for up to 3 days.

2. As you make the batter, the milk should be around 55°C when you pour it onto your egg mixture. This will start to cook the eggs and the starch, and will prevent the canelés to form too much moisture when they bake, hence reducing the risk of them “growing” out from their moulds as they bake.

3. No matter what I do, I’ll always have at least one canelé trying to escape from its mould during baking. If you let it be, you’ll end up with a white-topped canelé as the batter won’t be in contact with the mould; you do not want this, trust me. My sauve-qui-peut solution is very simple. As soon as the canelés are set enough – around 20 minutes usually – I’ll carefully take out the faulty ones out from the oven, then turn them upside-down – unmoulding them really – then place them back into their moulds. This seems to do the trick every time and they won’t try to escape again.

4. Many people stress about using a mixture of oil and beeswax to grease the moulds. Yes it does give them a special matte finish, but more than that, I think the kind and quality of the moulds matter. I know they’re expensive but Matfer copper moulds make the difference for me.
You see here, I didn’t use any beeswax, just melted butter, brushed inside the moulds, and they came out beautifully. You could also use some cooking spray, I’ve only ever tried OneSpray which worked great.

5. The most fundamental part is – in my opinion – the baking. In professional fan-assisted ovens, I usually preheat to 210°C, then bake for 10 minutes at this temperature, before reducing it to 190°C to finish the baking for an hour or so. At home, in my traditional oven, I’ve found that they are considerably better if I preheat the oven to 270°C and bake them for 10 minutes then reduce the temperature to 200°C for another 45 to 55 minutes depending on the size of my moulds.

But mostly – please please please – have fun while baking. This makes all the difference.

Canelés au beurre noisette et au bourbon

Makes 20 small canelés (4.5cm wide) or 12 large ones (5.5cm wide).

500 g whole milk
50 g brown butter
2 vanilla pods
, sliced lengthways
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
250 g icing sugar
40 g bourbon
100 g plain flour
a pinch of salt

q.s. melted butter, to grease the moulds

In a medium pan, bring the milk, brown butter, vanilla seeds and pods to the boil. Off the heat, cover with a lid and allow to infuse for at least 15-20 minutes while you get on with the rest.
In a bowl, mix the eggs and yolks with the icing sugar until smooth, slowly pour in the bourbon. Add the flour and salt.
Then, pour the warm milk, a little at a time over the egg mixture, mixing as you do so – but trying not to incoporate too much air into the batter. You could pass the batter through a fine-mesh sieve, I don’t.

Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave at room temperature overnight.

Preheat the oven to 270°C.
Prepare the moulds. No matter which kind of fat you’re using, brush a thin layer into the moulds (or in the case of the spray, spray it). Turn the moulds upside-down onto kitchen paper to allow the excess fat to drip, then place in the freezer. If using butter, I like to repeat this one more time.

Mix the batter for a couple of minute to homogenise. Then fill your prepared moulds almost to the rim, leaving 2 or 3 mm on top.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200°C and bake for a further 45 minutes for small canelés or 55 minutes for large ones.


PS. Thank you to all of you who’ve commented on my Paris Pastry Club & Fannys Pâtisserie giveavay. It’s still open until the 14th of April, so head over here to win a copy of my book; in English or German! xx

Merci – Paris Pastry Club, a German edition & a giveaway

Pâtisserie, WordsA story about , , Written on le Tuesday 07 April 2015.

Pictures above © Helen Cathcart 2014.

Almost a year ago, Paris Pastry Club came out, on Easter monday. Now a year later, Fannys Pâtisserie – its German counter part – has been published by Knesebeck.

I didn’t have the time to tell you all the warmest MERCI.
Yes, I can never ever be thankful enough.

For all of you who’ve read my blah-blah since that day in July 2005 when I started writing foodbeam; if I recall right, my very first post was about a matcha green tea tiramisu.

For all of you who’ve emailed me telling how you wanted to become a pastry chef (my answer: DO IT).

For all of you who’ve made my recipes in your kitchen.

And as always: the team at Hardie Grant – especially Kate Pollard, my publisher; Helen Cathcart, the photographer behind the stunning pictures in Paris Pastry Club (and above): I couldn’t have dreamt of a better photographer; April Carter for supporting me through the photoshoot (she has two of the most wonderful books too); and Christin Nase from Knesebeck.

This list could go on and on, and really, to everyone else – you know who you are – and I love you.

Paris Pastry Club & Fannys Pâtisserie giveaway

To celebrate the first birthday of Paris Pastry Club and the launch of Fannys Pâtisserie, I would love to send you a signed copy of the English edition or the German. Your choice!

All you have to do, is to leave a comment here, telling me what pâtisserie/article you’d like me to write about next and the language (English or German) you’d want your giveaway book to be.

The winners will be chosen at random and contacted by email. The giveaway will close on Tuesday the 14th of April.

Lots and lots of love,
Fanny xx

The giveaway is now closed. I’ve emailed the winners: Marion (for the English edition) and Becky (for the German one). Thank you all for your amazing feedback. xx

Kusmark sourdough

BoulangerieA story about , , , , Written on le Saturday 04 April 2015.

sourdough bread

I thought it would be nice to start my weekend boulangerie posts with a book quote. You know, being the weekend and all. Perhaps, you’ll want to do what I’ve doing and explore forgotten books.

Yes, I’ve had time. To bake, to draw, to read.
And yes, I’m extremely happy.

On this subject, a few nights ago, we watched a documentary – in Swedish – about what used to be Frantzén/Lindeberg. It was unusually accurate and very interesting. I could relate a lot; with both Frantzén and Lindeberg, who were in two – very – different phases which caused them to separate. But really, I especially liked the part where Lindeberg – after leaving the restaurant – says (and I’m about to very badly paraphrase/translate him) that once you leave that intense bubble created by the constant need to reach perfection, you start to soak in the beauty of life that has been around you all these years without you even noticed.
And while I don’t want to leave that bubble behind just yet, it’s certainly refreshing to be able to live without being consumed by a limitless passion that restlessly occupies every of your thoughts.

“It was a pleasant May morning in 1775, and the air was filled with the fragrance of the freshly cut pine logs that had been poled down the river in big rafts to be cut into planks and boards at the big sawmills. The river, unusually full with the spring rains, dashed against its banks as if inviting the little girls to play a game with it. Usually Anna and Rebecca were quite ready to linger at the small coves which crept in so near to the footpath, and sail boats made of pieces of birch-bark, with alder twigs for masts and broad oak leaves for sails. They named these boats Polly and Unity, after the two fine sloops which carried lumber from Machias to Boston and returned with cargoes of provisions for the little settlement.
But this morning the girls hurried along without a thought for such pleasant games. They were both anxious to get to the lumber yard as soon as possible, not only to fill their basket with chips, as their mother had bidden them, but to hear if there were not some news of the Polly, the return of which was anxiously awaited; for provisions were getting scarce in this remote village, and not until the Polly should come sailing into harbor could there be any sugar cakes, or even bread made of wheat flour.”
Alice Turner Curtis (1920), A Little Maid of Old Maine

sourdough before proofing

Kusmark sourdough
Adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes.

You know those times when you know you’re doing something wrong, but you decide to go ahead and do it anyway. When, this was me, all over this bread. And yet, it turned out beautifully.
A lovely chewy crumb, with a wonderful sourdough aroma – yet not too strong – and a dark crisp crust.
I had a slice with a little butter and that Swedish flaky salt I’ve fallen in love with; the bread still slightly warm and the butter oozing on my fingers.

The dough felt quite dry and gluten development was very fast. I guess I’ve gotten too used to my usual 75% hydration sourdough and this one being only 65%, it was surprisingly easy to work with.
Yes, I do think it’s one of those magic breads that can absorb mistakes. Perhaps, a new go-to.

I’ve named it Kusmark sourdough as it is apparently custom to name your bread according to the geographical location of your starter. And really, I thought it sounded great.

The recipe.

makes one boule.

The recipe is based on Jeffrey’s Vermont sourdough, which seems to be loved by many.

75gT55 flour100%
for the dough
375gbread flour90%
50gwhole rye flour10%


The ingredients.

Jeffrey recommends to go for a 12% protein flour for his levain breads. So I went ahead and used my Kungsörnen vetemjöl special and the Saltå Kvarn rågmjöl that I’ve also been using to feed Surdeg these past few weeks.

The latter seems to absorb slightly more water than what rye has gotten me used to, so if you’re using the same flour, you might need to adjust the hydration slightly.

Starter used: Surdeg (19/03/2015), 14 days old.


sourdough bread slice

The timing.

Mixing the dough & autolyse = 1 hour-ish.
Bulk proofing = 3 hours, with one or two folds.
Pre-shaping, bench rest & shaping = 35 minutes.
Fermentation = at room temperature, for around 2-3 hours or 1 hours at 20°C then retarded overnight (for up to 16 hours according to Jeffrey) at 5°C.
Baking = 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf.


The process.

While I’m a bit of a perfectionist when working, I must say that I’m way more laid-back when it comes to home baking. In my mind – perhaps because I’ve spent so much time being insanely precise – I really like the nonchalance of baking at home. Yes, the oven isn’t perfect. Yes, the dough temperature might be too high or low. Yes, you will fail. But I’ve learnt to appreciate all of these. Maybe that will change, but for now, I’m pretty happy to take it for what it is: trying to make the best things possible in a home kitchen environment.

That means, I’m not going to lie, that:
– I didn’t measure dough temperature, even though I know they’re important. I adjusted the water temperature slightly to have a dough slightly warmer than 23°C, which I measured with my hands. There you go probe.
– I don’t have a banneton to prove my loaves, but a bowl lined with a floured kitchen towel.
– I didn’t score my bread using a lame – but a small serrated knife.

Other than that, here is the process I followed.

Make the levain.
In a bowl, mix your active starter and water. Add the flour and mix until smooth. Cover with clingfilm and allow to ferment overnight.

Mix the dough & autolyse.
In a large bowl, combine the levain, water, and flours until it just forms a dough. Leave covered for an hour.

Bulk proofing.
Add the salt and knead the dough to medium gluten development. The dough will feel elastic and smooth but slightly loose.
If you’re feeling like it, Jeffrey tells us the dough should now be 24.4°C.
Cover with clingfilm and leave at room temperature to proof for around three hours.

My gluten development being a bit more than medium, I only gave the dough one fold. To give a fold, simply place the dough, “nice side” down on a slightly floured surface (I didn’t need any flour here) and pat with the palm of your hand into a rectangle. Then fold like a business letter. And again in the other direction. Place back into the bowl, and keep on proofing.

From the very beginning till the end of the process, make sure to keep the “nice side” – or seamless – of your loaf as is. While the other side will always be the one with seams.


Place “nice side” down onto a lightly floured surface. Pat down with the palm of your hand to degas the dough. Pre-shape the dough into a rough ball. Then cover it with a cloth – leaving its “nice side” down so not to put any flour on the seams and leave for around 30 minutes. In the meantime, get your banneton – real or homemade – ready. Then shape the dough into a tight ball, on a clean surface; the sticky dough will pull the outer layers creating some surface tension.
Place the dough seam-side up into your banneton if you intend on scoring the bread. Or for a more natural look, place the seam-side down to let the natural cracks bloom in the oven.

You can either ferment your loaf at room temperature until doubled in size and a positive finger poke test, or proof for around an hour before wrapping it in clingfilm or placing it in a sealed bag, and retard it in your fridge for up to 16 hours.

I went for the latter. But I think my fridge was too cold as barely any fermentation happened overnight and I had to leave my bread to proof outside for another two hours in the morning before it was ready to go in (slightly underproofed, but I had reached my patience limit).

Unmould your loaf onto a piece of baking paper, big enough for you to lift the bread to the cast-iron pot. And score into the pattern of your choice.
Scoring weakens a portion of the outer dough layer, creating the perfect escape for steam during baking and the cuts will expand in the oven, making sure your bread gets to its full volume.

sourdough scoring

Preheat the oven to 250°C for at least an hour before your bread is ready. You can preheat a cast iron pot as well, although I’ve baked bread in a cold pot before with great results. It’s really up to you, although I do think a hot pot will generate a better oven spring.

I choose to bake in a cast-iron at home for two reasons:
– it removes the need for a stone: cast iron will accumulate heat, just like a stone would. A hot cast-iron pot will prevent your bread from sticking and has amazing heat retention properties, which means it’ll keep your oven hotter and provide a real nice hot base for your bread to bake on.
– the bread steams itself: by placing a lid on top of your pot, you allow the steam that comes out from the bread to stay in a closed environment, hence acting as a steamer.
Yes, steam is essential for a good crusty bread that has a lovely oven spring. As the steam moisten the surface of the bread – retarding the gelatinisation of starch, a process which starts at around 60°C – it will increase the volume of your loaf and turn the crust into a shiny surface.

I baked mine at 250°C for 20 minutes with the lid on and then 30 minutes without. A quick way to check if your bread is done is to probe its centre. It should read 96-98°C for a sourdough bread.



Next time, I’ll increase the hydration to 70%, to – perhaps – get a more open crumb.
I also need to check my fridge temperature to make sure it’s not too cold.

Perhaps, I’ll use a lower protein flour, around 10.5-11% proteins.


Vermont sourdough ressources.

Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes.

The fresh loaf’s posts on Vermont sourdough.

R.F. Tester & W.R. Morrison (1990), Swelling and gelatinisation of cereal starches.