The Far Breton is to Britany what the Clafoutis is to the Limousin region. Both are a very simple, lightly sweet crustless custard tart with a single kind of whole fruit layer at the bottom. Ripe prunes (“pruneaux” in French) are the fruit of choice in the Far.
The joy of this desert, besides being delicious, is in its few simple ingredients and the ease of its confection. That said, to do something simple exceedingly well, one needs to handle with care.
(from Bruno Albouze)
- 180 g Prunes – soft, seeds removed
- 100 g Dark rum (or Calvados, optional)
- 500 g Milk
- 60 g Unsalted butter
- 100 g Whole egg (2)
- 40 g Egg yolks (2)
- 10 g Vanilla paste (or one vanilla bean)
- 80 g All-purpose flour
- 20 g Semolina (fine)
- 100 g Sugar
- 1 g Salt
- Prepare the prunes well in advance. Macerate the prunes in the rum (or Calvados) at least one day in advance. I tend to keep jars of macerating prunes and raisins in the cave (cellar) to be used in cooking. Place the prunes (along with the stones/seeds if you have them) in a skillet to warm and soften them. Flambé the mixture to burn off the alcohol. Once the flame subsides, turn off the heat and allow the prunes to cool down a bit. Room temp is fine.
2. Prepare the custard. For the brightest vanilla flavor, use the seeds of one vanilla bean if you can. Scrape the beans from the pod and add vanilla, milk and butter and add to a casserole over medium low heat. You only want to warm the mixture enough to melt the butter and to allow the vanilla to infuse the mixture.
3. Prepare the eggs and dry ingredients. Separate the egg yolks from the whites and reserve. Reserve the whites in the refrigerator for some other application such as an egg white omelet, a meringue, macarons or other confection. Place the flour, semolina, sugar and pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl.
4. Add the warm liquid mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Add the egg yolks and whisk until well incorporated. It’s now time to assemble everything in a cake pan.
5. Butter and flour your cake pan (8×2 inches /20 x 5cm or 9×2 inches / 23 x 5cm). You do not want this recipe to be in a larger pan as that would render the Far too thin. Arrange the prunes in the pan, fitting more or less to cover the bottom. Gently pour the custard mixture into the pan.
6. Place in a 410 F / 200 C oven for 40-45 minutes. Check for doneness at 35 minutes. Let you nose be your first guide as the Far begins to release its aroma. Then watch the top for golden brown color. Finally, do the toothpick test, inserting it into the desert to see if it comes out (mostly) clean. Done. Let this cool before unmolding.
A slice of Far Breton may be enjoyed all on its own (the kids), with a cup of tea (a friend or neighbor) or a small measure of Calvados apple brandy (you and someone you wish to woo).