Macarons are all the rage in Paris and New York and have become the icon of French pastries. But I am voting for the long-standing iconic pastry of Bordeaux, the canelé.
This now fancy, indeed “haute” pastry began as a thrifty, simple way to use up left-over ingredients in order to feed the poor.
The canelé owes it’s beginnings to the nuns of the Miséricorde convent. They would send novices to the docks to sweep up flour that had spilled out of bags as they were being unloaded from the boats. To this recovered flour they added egg yolks, a leftover from the many vintners who used the egg whites to clarify their wines.
These original pastries, called canelas or camelions, didn’t look like what we see today. The dough was wrapped around sticks, fried and then sold to raise the money needed to feed the poor. According to some records, they were favorites at the court of Louis XIII, whose wife, St. Jeanne de France, founded the convent.
After the revolution and the closing of the convent, the recipe was kept alive by various families in Bordeaux. Finally, in the beginning of the 20th century, a Bordeaux baker revived and improved the recipe by adding rum and vanilla. He also used a moule à cannelures, a fluted mold to bake his masterpieces.
And now to the question of spelling: is it canelé or cannelé? According to my sources, it is only one ‘n’. The use of ‘nn’ fell out of favor in 1985.