Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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cannelé, a little cake made of a crêpe-like batter and baked in a small cylindrical fluted copper mold, is said to have a 300-year history, although cannelé recipes have only recently begun to appear in cookbooks. A cannelé comes out of the oven rich and moist on the inside, while the outside is deep brown from the thick coating of caramelized sugar. The cakes are named after the shape of the molds in which they are made, cannelé meaning “fluted.” Such molds are depicted in an early-twentieth-century restaurant supply catalog from J. Jacquotot in Paris, in which the word “cannelé” describes the appearance of several molds and does not indicate a particular cake by that name. Paula Wolfert, who includes a recipe for cannelés in her cookbook The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen (2003), writes that when she worked in Bordeaux in the 1970s, cannelés were unknown: “No local guide or notable cookbook published since the start of the twentieth century even mentioned them.” Wolfert says that several Bordeaux bakers revived this former local specialty in the 1980s. Cannelés became so popular that they were made all over France, provoking a group of Bordeaux patissiers to lobby for a protected status for their special recipe and method of making the cakes. Today, the cannelé is the “official cake” of the city of Bordeaux. City officials changed the spelling to canelé de Bordeaux, whereas the old spelling is used for the “generic” or unofficial version of cannelé bordelais (cannelés in the style of Bordeaux).