Far Breton, a Cake for Keeping out the Cold

Far Breton

Like scent, some tastes transport you to a place and time, vivid reminders of a person or an experience. I love this quicksilver experience. The taste of Strega and the smell of roasting capsicum takes me instantly to Italy. And French butter from Brittany, studded with sea salt takes me to …. yes, France! There’s some sort of under-taste that shrieks of Europe, maybe it’s pollution on the grass the cows eat, I don’t know, but it is a distinctive taste compared to similar Australian butters.

I’ve discovered another treat from Brittany, a cake called a Far Breton. It’s a serious, weighty prune cake, a piece of sustenance that could keep a hardy Breton fisherman going all night. Imagine a solid pancake, an inch thick and flavoured with vanilla bean, studded with prunes which have been soaked in brandy, and you have your Far Breton.

I usually keep a large jar of prunes soaking in port because you never know when you may be called upon to provide a dessert of an impressive nature. Not often, I grant you, but it could happen. Hurl a few of these porty prunes into a bowl of vanilla gelato and problem solved. I was looking for other things to do with my prunes in port when I came across the Far Breton. I made it, the family ate it and declared they would eat it again. I would too.

I based my Far Breton on a recipe from the SBS website, given by Anthony Sergent from La Niche Cafe in Fitzroy. I’ve made a few changes, but you can see the original here.

I’ve had to adapt the cooking time for my oven, from an hour to an hour and a half. So know your oven and keep checking. It should have a browned surface and not jiggle when touched.

Far Breton

250g plain flour
150g white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
5 eggs
1 litre milk
50g melted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
100g pitted prunes or more, which have been soaked in port for a few weeks. Or you can soak them in port or Armagnac brandy, bring to the boil and then let them cool overnight.
Butter, extra (for greasing)

Preheat the oven to 180-200°C.

Mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the milk. Add the melted butter and vanilla and calvados.

Using butter, generously grease a transparent mould. (I used a 1 litre Pyrex dish) Arrange the prunes at the bottom of the dish. Pour the flour mixture over the top.

Bake for about an hour, or until the crust should be slightly caramelised and firm.

painting by Marie-Aimee Lucas-Robiquet 1858 – 1959

painting by Marie-Aimee Lucas-Robiquet 1858 – 1959

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