Far Breton

Far Breton

David Lebowitz’s recipe inspired by Patisserie Made Simple by Edd Kimber

Although I’ve seen versions of Far breton made with raisins, I urge you to resist the urge to substitute another dried fruit. Prunes really make this dish. To pit prunes, use a paring knife to make a slit in each prune and slide out the pit. For those who really don’t want to use prunes, I’ve seen French recipes that use raisins, so those are entirely permissible. If you are avoiding alcohol, you could poach some prunes in tea and use those, drained.

The batter is similar to crêpe batter, and like crêpe batter, it should rest for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator before using it. You can make it the day before you plan to use it. If you prefer a less-sweet dessert, you can reduce to sugar to 6 tablespoons (75g).

Some recipes advise lining the baking dish with parchment paper, which I found wasn’t critical. And in fact, it got soggy during cooking (and tore easily) – so decided to stick with regular butter and flour, and didn’t have much of a problem getting pieces out of the baking dish.

10 ounces (285g, about 2 cups) pitted prunes
1/3 cup (80ml) Armagnac (or Cognac, brandy, or dark rum)
2 cups (500ml) whole milk
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1/4 cup (60g) melted butter, salted or unsalted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup (90g) flour
Additional softened butter and flour for preparing the baking dish

1. In a small saucepan, warm the prunes with the liquor over moderate heat, stirring them a few times while cooking, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Cover, and remove from heat and let cool. (The prunes can be done a day or two before using.)

2. To make the custard, put the milk, eggs, yolks, sugar, melted butter, vanilla, salt, and flour in a blender. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate the custard for at least four hours, or overnight.

3. To bake the Far breton, preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).

4. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a baking dish roughly 10-inches (25-30cm) in length. (Or use a round cake pan of similar diameter, but not a springform pan, which would leak.) Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Strew the prunes in the bottom of the baking dish.

5. Stir the chilled custard a few times, then pour it over the prunes and bake until the top is gently browned, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely, then slice into bars.

Storage: Far breton can be made up to three days before serving, and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Heraklion 2015 day 1 or the trials of Charles de Gaulle Airport

Traveled to Crete via Charles de Gaulle. Late last night we (Joan and I) arrived in Heraklion. It seemed to take forever to get here but that might have been because of one sweet but terribly misguided French airport official. After our 11 hour flight (easy and smooth) we had a very long layover in Paris, about 6 hours. Knowing the inner airport train system often goes down, we used the street level bus route – one transfer, 10 minutes each ride, 20 minute wait between stops. No big deal… Until we got to terminal 1, and were denied entrance. The guard was sure Agean Air left from terminal 3, and gave us instructions to hang out there 20 minutes, then re-board the bus and start over. We chatted, he offered us water and asked if we wanted him to turn on the air-conditioning. We returned to terminal 2A and learned that we were correct and the guard was wrong. Waited 20 minutes for the bus again and returned to face the same guard. He insisted he was right, but was going off his shift and with great exasperation let us through and wished us luck, sure that we were headed in the wrong direction. Not sure there is a moral to the story, just that transferring in Paris always takes longer than expected, so take a breath and have a croissant, we had a piece of Far Breton… See recipe section for a stellar version