So OK, I’ve been mulling these over for a couple of days and I have my action plan together. It goes like this: first, I’m going to lower the heat. Reader Jim H’s provocative comment from late last week got me thinking. Why bother with a very hot oven at all…at least to start? Why not start low and let the eggs set — and allow the steam to steadily escape — instead of the rocket-hot traditional way that causes any bubbles in the batter to expand explosively?
I mean, preventing crazy expansion has got to be the reason why most “traditional” recipes call for chilled batter and molds, right? To try to slow down the heat penetration so the batter can set a bit before the upward-and-outward steam rush begins. So what if we take the oven down to, say, 325 Fahrenheit for the first 45 minutes or so of baking? Then we can blast it to get the dark crusts on the things. By that time the crumb will probably be well set and (mostly) explosion proof. Probably.
This approach might have several advantages. We could do away with the long resting periods and bubble freak-outs that accompany most formulas. At least for the most part. I’ll still avoid vigorous whisking so as not to push my luck. Also I’ll take the egg white out of the formula and replace it with two yolks. I mean these little cakes are supposed to be all about yolks, right? All egg whites will do is, well, what egg whites do: make bubbles. And create structure, but between the yolks and the flour we should have enough of that.
I’ll also rest the batter a bit before baking, about an hour just to let any of the larger bubbles rise out. Of course we’ll still need some bubbles if we don’t want actual custard, but perhaps this way we’ll tame the ones that remain enough so that they’ll create a little lightness but not an explosion.
Could the low stress, low heat, no-wait cannelé become a reality? We shall soon see, won’t we?