Far Breton (Brittany Prune Pudding Cake)


I rarely bake (at least compared to most bloggers I follow), mainly because, no matter which season of the year, I crave usually light creams, custards or mousses you will find published quite often on my blog and I often find a piece of good dark chocolate totally sufficient as a daily sweet treat. When I do bake, I often go back to my favourite thin French-style tarts or moist, creamy cakes, such as Polish Light Cheesecake, Moist Coconut Cake or… Far Breton, which is my definite favourite. Actually, if I were to show here every single sweet treat coming out of my oven, I think it would appear on my blog probably 80% of the time. I hope my love for this light, custardy pudding cake and a slight photographic improvement are valid excuses to rewrite about it after two years.

Far breton is as easy to prepare as it is impossible to translate. It’s not exactly a cake, nor a custard, nor a flan… Since nothing I have ever tasted has a similar consistency, maybe “a baked, dense, slightly elastic pudding” (in the German sense of the word) would be a good definition. As its name suggests, far breton is a Brittany region specialty and a small Breton village bakery shop is the first place where I discovered it . Apparently, several centuries ago the dish called far was a kind of gruel with dried fruit, far meaning “wheat” or “spelt” in Latin. Afterwards the dish evolved into the today’s dense pudding-like cake. The oldest written trace of the present form of far breton dates back to the XVIIIth century, when both savoury (made from buckwheat and served with meat) and sweet fars (usually without any fruit) were popular. Nowadays only the sweet one is very popular not only in Brittany, but all around France.

Most people prepare it, like me, with prunes, some add only raisins, some both, and some purists refuse any kind of fruit. I find the most popular, slightly tangy version the absolute winner. I think it is best served cold, preferably left overnight in the fridge. Having prepared far breton according to the same method for at least ten years, I no longer remember where I found this recipe, but I appreciate it for the absence of butter or any fats and also for its low sugar content.

Coolness, extreme softness, moisture and a slight elasticity are the main reasons I find this cake irresistible. I also appreciate it for its lightness and low flour and fat content. My far breton is only slightly sweet, so if you are not the kind of person who cuts down the sugar content by half in every recipe (I do), add at least 50% more. The balance between the sweetness and acidity depends also on the prunes though.

TIP: Many people worry about the fact that prunes fall to the bottom. I don’t mind, but I have heard that coating prunes in flour prevent them from falling. (I have never tested it though).

Preparation: 1 h (+ at least 2 hours in the fridge)

Ingredients (fills a 10 x 30 cm or 20 x 20 cm baking dishes):

250 g/about 9 oz flour

70 g / about 2,5 oz sugar

4 eggs

750 ml/ about 25 fl oz milk

1 pinch salt

a bit of salted butter to grease the dish

25 big prunes (stoned)

a bowl of hot strong black tea

50-100 ml/about 1,7 – 3,5 fl oz rum

Soak the prunes in tea until they become soft. Drain them.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Grease the pan with butter (or line with baking paper).

Warm the milk until it is hot (don’t boil it!).

Combine the eggs, the flour, the salt and the sugar.

Slowly add the warm milk and the rum, stirring.

Pour the batter (it will be very liquid) into the baking dish. (If it is not smooth, mix it in a blender or pass it through a sieve).

Place the prunes inside, more or less regularly.

Bake for about 1 hour until golden brown.

Let the far cool down before putting it into the fridge for several hours.

Serve very cold, sliced.

34 Replies to “Far Breton (Brittany Prune Pudding Cake)”

    1. Thank you, A_Boleyn. It’s one of my favourite sweet treats, so I won’t lie: it is delicious indeed and quite light. I hope you will make it one day (and like it).

  1. We might not agree on the sweet potato thing but we definitely agree on what are the most delicious desserts! Like you I love flans, custards, puddings, jellies and anything similar to any of those. I know we would love this dessert! I probably would make it with raisins since Bobby isn’t a prune fan, but with raisins it would have the flavors of rum raisin ice cream, one of my favorites! I’m surprised that you say it’s best served cold, but since I trust your opinion totally – that’s how I’ll try it. Thanks for sharing this dessert. It’s a must make for me!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. I think we agree on hot food too 😉 We both seem unable to live without chilli/chile 😉 This cake is often made with raisins too, so you can easily replace prunes with raisins (I love so much the tanginess of prunes, I always prefer them). You should try it warm too and make your own opinion. I prefer it cold, but maybe it’s personal… Somehow it becomes chewier when cold and seems more moist (strange, isn’t it?). On the other hand, I like it so much, I cut off a slice when it’s still hot. I’m too impatient to wait 🙂

  2. Well, I’ve never known one of your prune preparations that I didn’t like Sissi 😉 and this one looks like no exception. Our taste in sweets sounds very similar — a little mousse, a custard or (for me usually): a wedge or two (three/four) of dark chocolate!! I must try this recipe. I don’t mind either that the prunes settle to the bottom. I find it really cool looking actually; different and sophisticated. Do you know what else this has suddenly made me remember? (speaking of delightful sweet things you prepare that I fall for), your Chocolate Coconut Cake. Oh my goodness, I fell in love with that as well (Ping’s version too)… suddenly I’m seriously craving all of these delights right now! Thank you for the happy reminder :).

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I’m glad to learn we share similar sweet treat preferences. You are right! I haven’t mentioned coconut cake above by accident (it’s the pure coconut version of the chocolate coconut cake): I also find it similar: refreshing and very moist… (though it’s not as light of course. I had no idea you made the chocolate version. I am thrilled to learn you like it (now you have made me want to bake it once more… but I have just taken my light cheesecake out of the oven… It wouldn’t be wise at all). Thank you so much Kelly for making me smile! I’m always proud and happy to learn you trust my recipes and moreover you like them!

  3. I have never had this dessert Sissi, it sure looks delicious, even more by your description of balance of sweet and tart…
    Thanks for introducing me to another new recipe…hope you are having a great week 😀

  4. Delicious! By the way, do you know the italian pudding cake called torta della nonna? It is similiar but with cake crust and more rich (egg yolks and butter) using less flour.

    1. Thank you, Kiki. I have never heard about it. Is it similar to the Portuguese custard tartlets? They are made of yolk and cream mixture inside pastry crust.

      1. Torta della nonna (granny’s cake) – the cream is made from 1 l milk, 250 g sugar, 8 egg yolks, 80 g flour, 1 vanilla bean, lemon zestes, pinch salt. The cream is simmered (style creme patissier) , cooled down until firmer and filled into a springform layerd with pie crust (paté sablé), covered with pie crust and baked.

        1. Thank you so much, Kiki. It sounds slightly more low-fat than the Portuguese tartlets (only cream and sugar and eggs in pastry shells). I must try making it one day.

  5. I’ve never tried this. Raisins, custard…remind me of bread and butter pudding, minus the bread of course. I will try this one of these days.
    That slice looks very smooth – so hard baked custard it seems.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. It’s exactly what you say: a bit denser custard. I prefer it with prunes, but some people prefer raisins. It depends if you like tanginess or more sweetness. Both versions are genuine I guess.

  6. I have not heard of this lovely dessert before Sissi, but like you, I think I too would find it irresistible. I usually cut the sugar down but not if I make it for my niece and nephew, they are sugar addicts! I adore prunes and can totally see how this custard would be delicious with their addition. I have tried coating fruit with flour and find it still sinks to the bottom, but like you I don’t mind. I agree with Kelly that the presentation is quite sophisticated. I am now curious about this wonderful dessert and will have to try to sample it on our next trip to France (which I hope will be very soon, I miss Europe so much!).

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. I don’t think you will find it easily in France. I only saw it in Brittany pastry shops actually. It’s not something as nationwide popular as éclairs or financiers. It’s easy though, so you can test it at home!
      I hope we will manage to meet next time you come. We almost made it last time 😉

  7. This is such a unique dessert! I can understand exactly what you mean by saying that it is not any specific type. I would love to try it and taste its texture! And of course I love prunes!

    1. Hi Zsuzsa, these are not plums, but prunes, which luckily are seasonless. I hope you will like it.

  8. This cake sounds so familiar to me. I never made it but I (or more like my brain) remember this texture – when you explained it’s like baked pudding, I can understand what it’s like. Wonder if someone in the past made it and I tried. The cake looks really good and love the prune inside. Not overly sweet and it’s just perfect to enjoy some sweets after meal or for tea. Lovely!

    1. Thanks a lot, Nami. Haha! You have probably seen my previous post (2 years ago I think). It’s one of the rare really light cakes I know.

  9. Mm, this looks so smooth and creamy! I’m trying to think if I ever had it before… you know how some things seem REALLY familiar for some reason to you? This is one of those things… I feel like I’ve had it before but really don’t think I have, since to be honest I don’t think I’ve heard of it!

    Really good Sissi – looks very well prepared!

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