Far Breton has been a French favourite, especially in Brittany, for hundreds of years. The word ‘far’ comes from the Breton “farz forn” which literally means far in the oven. The origin of this rich custard tart is said to date to the 18th century when it was dished up is a salty version and without prunes, alongside meat. According to a Breton baker we spoke “Prunes were widely used in Breton seafarers communities because they are easily stored and are an ideal nutritional asset to keep you going on a long journey. Adding them to this already popular dish with sailors was a good way to enhance nutrition.”
Bretons recommend a glass of cider goes well with Far Breton!
When it comes to make-ahead recipes, they don’t come much easier than this one! Don’t be put off by the ‘12 hours in the fridge’, this is totally worth the fridge space as the flavours really develop and mature, and it’s easy! This recipe is a great dessert, or afternoon treat, and tastes wonderful when served with a spoonful of crème fraîche. Kit Smyth’s rich custard and prune tart recipe is an absolute winner…
Prep Time: 15mins + overnight rest time
Cook Time: 1hour
Total Time: 1hour 15mins (+ overnight rest time)
500ml/2 cups whole (full-cream) milk
3 large eggs
125g/1/2 cup sugar
20g/2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
95g3/4 cup all-purpose flour
180g/6oz/1 cup prunes, pitted (Agen prunes are perfect!)
120ml/1/2 cup water
60ml/1/4 cup Armagnac, Cognac, or Pineau
Part 1: Custard: In a bowl or jug or blender, process the eggs, melted butter, milk, sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth. Strain the liquid through a medium sieve into a clean container, add the flour and mix in well. Chill in the fridge overnight.
Part 2: Prunes: Place the prunes and water in a pan and cook on a medium heat until the prunes start to soften, about 10-15mins – most of the water should boil away. Once the liquid is reduced, pour in the alcohol, and using either long-stemmed match or gas-lighter, from a safe distance, ignite the warmed spirit to cook off the alcohol – give the saucepan a light jiggle to ensure all of the liquid is reached.
Once cooled to room temperature, transfer to a container and store in the fridge overnight.
Heat the oven to 180˚C/375˚F/Gas Mark 4.
Butter a 20cm/8inch diameter and 4-5cm/2inch high sided cake pan – not one with a loose bottom! Line the bottom, with greaseproof baking paper, and butter again. Then dust the inside of the baking pan lightly with plain flour.
To assemble your Far Breton, remix the custard to make sure it’s all combined evenly and pour into the prepared baking pan. Tap the pan lightly on the kitchen countertop once or twice to dislodge any air-bubbles. Roll the prunes in flour (so they don’t sink to the bottom), and carefully transfer the filled baking pan to the oven: If carrying a semi-full baking tray is daunting, place it on a larger baking tray, and this will also catch any spills or overflow as it rises.
Bake on a middle rack for about 1 hour or until the pudding fluffs up and the edges are lightly brown. The centre of the tart should only jiggle a little bit when gently shaken.
Leave to cool completely on a wire rack, do NOT attempt to remove the Far Breton from the pan until it is cool.
When ready, lightly run a knife around the edge of the pan, and then place a large plate over the top before inverting to remove the pudding.
Once freed, dust with icing/powdered sugar, and cut into portions. Serve with crème fraîche.
Kit Smyth is a retired chef with a passion for French cuisine. Originally from Australia, Kit is dedicated to exploring both old and new ingredients, techniques and styles, and developing recipes for home cooks, she also teaches these recipes online and in-person. Find out more at her website: TheBiteLine