Cannelés, not unlike many French pastries, are the sorts of things that can be done passably well by many but masterfully by few. In Los Angeles, you can now find the pretty fluted Bordelaise cakes fairly frequently, but only one bakery makes them the way they are traditionally made in Brittany: with beeswax. Properly baked cannelés are so deeply caramelized on the outside that they appear burnt yet have a dense, custardy interior that seems improbably undercooked. It's not, if the cannelé is made well. Instead the interior — often laced with a hint of rum — is a perfect, creamy texture that matches exquisitely with the deeply caramelized crunch it took you to find it. The secret is beeswax, which is melted with oil and brushed very finely onto metal (traditionally copper) cannelé molds. Intricate? Yes. Time-consuming? Absolutely. Highly flammable? Apparently. At EuroPane, Sumi Chang makes dozens of them every morning. No explosions so far, just perfectly executed pastries.
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