Canelés are great for customers who want a gourmet option.

Traditional style American bakeries should go after the new generation of consumers. Millennials especially will appreciate a bakery that offers something special, something ethnic, something that represents a global and gourmet product. The French pastry, canelé, gives the retail bakery a product to facilitate entry into the specialty food marketplace.

Specialty Food Overview

According to the 2015 “State of the Specialty Food Industry” food report from the Specialty Food Association and Mintel, 2014 was a record year. From 2012 to 2014, the US sales of specialty food have increased 22 percent to $109 billion.

Use the specialness of the French canelé to draw the foodie types into your shop and turn your regular bakery customers into foodies. Social media channels present an excellent opportunity to spread the word of your new French pastry addition.

The History

With ingredients consisting of flour, milk, egg yolk, butter, vanilla, rum and cane sugar, canelé originated approximately 300 years ago in Bordeaux, France. The name comes from the original copper cake mould, cannelé (French for “fluted”) used to make them. The first time “canelé” was officially used, was in 1985 when a canelé guild was set up. An ‘n’ was dropped to distinguish its identity.

The exact history of this iconic pastry is a bit of a mystery because no one really knows who created them or when. While they are sometimes associated with the nuns of the Annociades convent in the 1700s, archeological digs during the convent’s renovation were not able to confirm it as the true origin.

An edict in 1767 limited the number of authorized canaulier (those belonging to a guild that made canelés) shops in a city to eight. It created very strict requirements for joining the profession. In 1785 there were at least 39 canaulier shops in Bordeaux, at least ten of which were in the district of Saint-Seurin. The French Revolution abolished all the corporations, but later census rolls continue to show shops of canauliers.

In the first quarter of the 20th century the canelé reappeared at some point, it’s unknown exactly when. An unknown pastry chef re-popularized the antique recipe of canauliers and added rum and vanilla to the original recipe.


While canelés are not these easiest to perfect, with some time and effort dedicated to these historically rich, French pastries, they will become a hit with consumers seeking out something special and gourmet. While shops come and go and menus change, in 2014 there were roughly 16 to 20 bakeries and shops in New York that carried canelés as part of their offerings, some only on weekends, according to, but they saw success.

The website stresses three things that make up a perfect canelé:

  1. Crust: The single most important feature of a perfect canelé is a well-baked crust with just the right amount of caramelization. The exterior should have a decisive crunch but also be delicate, not burnt. Most sub-par canelés suffer from soft or leathery crusts.

  2. Interior texture: The best canelés have an interior that's a cross between custard and cake, moist but not soggy or runny. A well-baked sample will feature a honeycomb-like crumb.

  3. Aroma and flavor: You should smell aroma and rum before taking your first bite. But once you bite into the crust, the combination of vanilla, egg, and rum should be almost overpowering. (To accentuate these flavors, many chefs leave split vanilla beans and rum in the batter for one to three days before baking.)

The caramelized crust and tender, moist center are difficult to reconcile, says Allessandra Bulow, writer for The Epicurious Blog. “These tiny pastries may look like they're easy to make, but they're super-challenging even for professional bakers.”

In this video, learn how to make canelé.