St Malo: Far Breton aux pruneaux

It is spring in Nantes. The flowers are already out, but the fruit has yet to come.

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Le Parc de Procé, Nantes in March

So I am still making this wintery breakfast cake with prunes. ‘Far’ is the traditional Britannic word for flan, and this cake is the most well-loved from Brittany after the buttery Kouign Amann. This one’s much healthier and is kind of like a fruity omelet.

I first came across it in St.-Malo, a true Breton town on the English channel. There, they had a Kougin Amann stand to get fresh, warm, buttery Kougin Amann buns from a window (something we are sorely missing in Nantes). The also served Far Breton, but the idea of a prune cake didn’t quite appeal to me.

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St-Malo in November

Then, when I started investigating the local cuisine here, I made one at home. My initial impression was so wrong. The prunes make this cake.

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The batter for this cake is basically a crepe batter, not surprisingly since Brittany is the home of crepes. I think this kind of batter is best made is a blender – it’s much easier to get it smoother that way. And with all crepe batters, it’s best to let it rest in the fridge for a while – it will become thinker and the cake will be more toothsome – but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Far Breton aux pruneaux

Ingredients

For the prunes:

  1. 1 1/2 – 2 cup (250 g) pitted prunes
  2. 1/4 cup (50g) rum or armagnac (or similar liquor, water or apple juice)
  3. 1/2 cup (100g) water

For the batter:

  1. 4 eggs
  2. 2/3 cup (130g) sugar
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 1 1/8 cup (130g) flour
  5. 2 2/3 cups (630g) whole milk
  6. 7 tbsp (95g) unsalted butter

Method

  1. For the prunes: Simmer the prune ingredients for about 15 minutes, until the prunes are soft, and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  2. For the batter: put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Optional: let batter rest for 1 – 12 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
  5. Line a roughly 9x13in (23x33cm) baking dish with parchment paper. Pour in half the batter. Distribute the prunes evenly over the batter, and sprinkle the unabsorbed liquid over the batter. Pour in the rest of the batter.
  6. Put dish in the oven for 25 minutes.
  7. Turn the down to 350F (175C), and bake for 20 more minutes or until the top is a dark golden brown.
  8. Let cool slightly. When warm, the cake will be soft and custardy. In France, it is usually served room temperature when the texture becomes firm.

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