Article paru dans le Magazine Forbes in English

Produit Artisanal

jeudi 27 octobre 2016

Article paru dans le Magazine Forbes in English


Consider the Cannelé – Bordeaux’s Unusual Winemaking Pastry

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The versatile cannelé can be appetizer or dessert (photo credit: Tom Mullen)

Stroll around Place Gambetta square in the city Bordeaux and you may notice sizzling competition to sell pastries and candies. La Mie Câline retails beautifully gooey almond croissants near where Le Comptoir de Mathilde makes chocolate pizzas and strawberry flavored marshmallows. Inside nearby Baillardran, beneath a high ceiling and stained glass windows, doting ladies sell red boxes of spool-sized rum and vanilla pastries for which this city is famed.

This is the cannelé (pronounced kan-el-AY), a by-product of winemaking.

Choose cannelé or canelé; both spellings are correct. The double ‘n’ version is valid worldwide, while Bordeaux city ‘canauliers’—members of the Confrérie du Canelé de Bordeaux—adopted the single ‘n’ noun in 1985 to distinguish their city’s signature sweet.

Parallel fissures score the cylindrical circumference of each cannelé, evoking a vague memory of the Devil’s Tower rock formation in Wyoming (remember the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind?). The crackly yet rubbery outer crust has a color between molasses and dark brick, while the golden honeycombed interior tastes like custard and rum.

It tastes even better than it sounds.

Inside the Baillardran store, uniformed ladies offer rum and non-rum versions of canelés, then instruct buyers not to refrigerate them at home. This visually blunt pastry is a hit: Baillardran has eight outlets just in Bordeaux city and another five nearby.

This historical pastry is respected throughout the region. Inside nearby five-star Hotel Burdigala, a complimentary tray of cannelés is provided in each room (prepared by their in-house pastry chef) together with a written history of this chewy treat. This is often the first introduction to French cuisine by visiting international travelers.
The association with wine is simple. Winemakers often add egg whites to their juice to draw out excessive polyphenols (tannins). This process, known as ‘fining,’ smoothens the taste of wine. Positively charged egg white proteins—albumin—react with negatively charged polyphenols, creating particle clusters that sink to the bottom of wine barrels for later removal. Despite alternatives, egg whites are still used by many smaller wine producers. Historically, surplus egg yolks from this process were used to create the first cannelés.

The centuries-old history of this pastry is uncertain, though is apocryphally associated with city nuns from Saint Eulalia church who honed their culinary bent by incorporating yolks to churn out these sweets (the shape apparently remained unfluted until the 20th century).

Less uncertain, though more complex, is the history of canauliers who make these pastries. They registered a guild with Bordeaux’s parliament in the 17th century, yet were prohibited from using milk or sugar—which were considered the exclusive domain of a competing pastry guild. It took one century and a state edict to change that regulation.

Caramelized cannelés fresh from the oven (photo credit: Shutterstock)

The simple ingredients include flour, brown sugar, eggs, milk and butter (vanilla and rum were added in the 20th century).

Renowned chef and co-founder of famed Noma Restaurant in Copenhagen and Great Northern Food Hall in New York, Claus Meyer has admitted to cannelés being one of his favorite foods.

“Crispy caramelized cake. Beautiful,” he said. “It’s magical in all its simplicity to get that flavor our of those ingredients.”

The lore on the internet is that the simplicity of ingredients belies the potential complexity of baking cannelés well. The batter should rest for a day (to better hydrate the flour), then be poured into copper or silicone molds previously seasoned with beeswax. Eggs should be mixed, not whisked, and of the right age to avoid any dreaded cannelé collapse in the oven. So run the stories. The truth is that once you have molds, making these is a cinch that will blast your kitchen with welcome aromas.

This simple pastry is evolving as more varieties are produced. The most popular choice at Baillardran is the Canelé d’Or (golden canelé), “blazed with rum at the end of baking,” Chloé Simard, communications assistant, told me. “Our bakers are very respectful of our products and make special attention to use matières premières (raw materials) by choosing the best vanilla and eggs,” she continued. “We are still looking for new ideas. For people who don’t like alcohol we launched a classic size Canelé Pur Vanille made with organic vanilla from Madagascar and slicked by vanilla syrup at the end of baking. Our latest novelty is a delicious medium-sized canelé topped with dark chocolate and stuffed with dark chocolate too.”

Another beauty of cannelés is versatility. They can be served for breakfast or dinner and as an appetizer or dessert—served whole, or sliced in half and stuffed with ice cream—and will complement coffee, tea, red wine or cognac. In the City of New York, Canelé by Céline sells hundreds of sweet and savory varieties each week, the most popular being vanilla, followed by dark chocolate. What is the reaction of Americans who have never tasted one before? “Very positive!” General Manager Gerald Huteau told me. “When people first taste, they enjoy. They love it.”

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Canelé and latte (photo credit: Tom Mullen)

Tom Mullen is a Forbes contributor. Follow him on Twitter or at Vino Voices.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tmullen/2016/10/21/consider-the-cannele-bordeauxs-unusual-winemaking-pastry/#5f902a402e22