Cute and sweet little article about a famous pastry well-known in Bordeaux… But what is the link with wine ? Well, you will see but there is a link ! It’s true that you can pair this cake with wine… But it’s the story of this ‘gourmandise’ which intertwines with wine…
I’m going to give you some clue… Born in the XVIII century, this cake is the symbol of Bordeaux. Small, brown, soft, aromatic and which is like the waves on the Garonne river… You guessed as a good epicure : I’m talking about the Cannelé !
“Earth is a cake full of sweetness” Charles Baudelaire
The story of Cannelé is a little bit complicated because we don’t know exactly when the cake was born… But we know why and how ! So before telling you in detail its origin, here are the ingredients :
– 1/2 liter of milk
– 1 pinch of salt
– 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
– 1/2 vanilla pod
– 1 dessert spoon of rum
– 100g of flour
– 250g of sugar
– 50g of butter (+ 50g of butter for the cake pans)
Bordeaux is well-know to be the ‘moon harbor’, a very important harbor since the time of Aliénor d’Aquitaine (XII° century) and her second wedding with the King of England Henry II. Cellar of England, Bordeaux has always been in conflict with Paris for its will to be opened to the world and its refusal to cultivate anything else but grapes. Few centuries later, Bordeaux still does free trade during the XVIII century. The harbor welcomes slave ships coming back from the colonies (West Indies) with vanilla, rum and sugar cane, basis ingredients of Cannelé.
But the most important ingredient which is linked to wine is egg. Egg ? Well yes, one of the aging step is clarification. Even if today we are using egg albumin for sanitary reasons, wine-makers had the habit to clarify the red wines with egg whites. The clarification is the integration of a protein in wine, this protein is going to flocculate which means that it is going to the bottom of the vat or of the barrel with all the molecules which are muddled. So before the bottling, most of the Châteaux are doing the clarification : your wine will be clear in your glass. Back in the time, the clarification tradition is paired with a humanist gesture : the egg yolks are given to nuns of the Annonciades convent. These last are incorporating this ingredient to a cake recipe. Then the Cannelé is born… Well, the forerunner of the modern Cannelé : the nuns were putting the fine pastry around a stick and fried it with lard.
The Cannelé is well-known and a guild of ‘canaulier’ is created. You have to know that there were a real war between canauliers and pastry cooks. The pastry cooks are allowed to mix milk and sugar in their pastry, the canauliers not. After few years, the canauliers won the battle thanks to a Conseil d’état edit the 3rd March of 1755 in Versailles. Saint-Seurin in Bordeaux is the canauliers district : there are 10 canaulier masters on 39 in Bordeaux.
The guild will disappear like the other ones during the french Revolution and we will ear about the little cake of Bordeaux until the first quarter of the XX° century. It’s in 1985 that a guild reborn and remove the second ‘n’ of Cannelé in order to be closer to the origins of the cake… In fact during the XVIII° century we were talking about ‘canaule’ or ‘canole’. And it’s during the XX° century that the special Cannelé cake pan appears. The ‘Canelé’ is a registered trademark even if we are still writing Cannelé with two ‘n’. We count 800 manufacturers in Aquitaine and 600 in Gironde. In the 90s, 4,5 millions of Cannelés have been eaten each year.
It exists different sizes of Cannelé : the small one is to be eaten with cocktail, the middle size is perfect with tea and the big one is delicious as desert. You can eat your Cannelé with Champagne but also with sweet wines like Sauternes.