Far breton, or Brittany Prune Pudding

farbretonppFar breton is one of my favourite and most frequently baked sweet dishes. It is light and low-fat, but filling, slightly sweet, but tangy, it is best served cold, but perfect even in cold seasons too. I wouldn’t only call it irresistible, but also undownputable, just like a fascinating book. 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, many centuries ago the dish called far was a kind of gruel with dried fruit, and far is a Latin word meaning “wheat” or “spelt” . 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 for many years, I no longer remember where I found this recipe, but I appreciate it for the absence of butter or any fats and for its low sugar content. Its colour varies and depends on eggs. My organic Winter egg yolks were particularly small, hence the light colour.

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 flour

70 g sugar

4 eggs

750 ml 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 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.

48 Replies to “Far breton, or Brittany Prune Pudding”

  1. I certainly learn about so many different and new to me foods from you!! I love this and think it will be perfect for packing up for a picnic, of course, keeping it cold! Great recipe!!

    1. Thanks, Linda. I haven’t thought about picnics, but you are totally right! I will remember your idea when it gets warm 🙂

  2. Sissi, Your dessert sounds very good. I had something that seems similar when we lived in the Dominican Republic. It was made with raisins and was served cold as well. I don’t remember what it was called.

  3. LOVE IT. I have a weakness for custardy sort of puddings. remember the steamed eggs I made? yah anything that’s eggy soft and jiggly. this is a really new idea to me, but I love the sound of it already. and soaking the prunes in strong tea, nice!

    1. Thank you, Shuhan. I also love soft, moist desserts and have them much more often than dense real cakes. I remember your steamed eggs very well! We had a discussion about runny whites I think.

  4. True story, as soon as I saw the photo and the first paragraph of your posting, my thought went like this: “I don’t know what this is, but I must get my hands on one now!” Hahah!

    The consistency might be similar to some of the Chinese desserts I’ve had, oh I am getting so hungry just thinking about it!

    1. Thank you so much, Jeno. I am glad it looks appetising to you! I must get interested more in Chinese desserts then (I have always been convinced I don’t like Chinese desserts).

  5. undownputable you say? – well, I’ll be darn 😉 – this must be good!! I have never had the pleasure of tasting far breton (nor have I heard of it) but from the looks and sounds of things, I’ve been missing something big time! This is part of what I love so much about your blog Sissi – I learn so many things about new dishes and combinations of flavour and your descriptions are always very detailed too – in terms of background and what to expect, etc. Thanks for this and have a super weekend!

    1. Thank you, Kelly, for all the compliments. I must tell you that very often I have no idea about the history or background of the dish I will post. I look for information and learn myself this way too. Have a lovely weekend too!

  6. I always like reading about your dish Sissi. You explain so well for some of us who don’t know about the dish (I tend to forget to explain in my post – very incomplete job!). I enjoyed your description and I understood and can imagine the texture of this dessert. Sounds wonderful. I’ve never heard of it or tasted, but it’s so unique and feel lucky that now I know about this dessert. I’ve never soaked prunes in tea. That’s such a cool technique!

    1. Thank you, Nami, for the compliment. Frankly I have always thought your post are more than complete! You always explain everything (such is my impression).

  7. This sounds like a custard, or baked pancake? I have never heard of this, unique. So many undiscovered foods in the world.
    BTW this post did not appear in my reader. I know you always post something on Fridays so I just checked your site and was surprised to see this.

    1. Hi, Mr. Three-Cookies. Maybe baked custard? (I have never had custard so I have no idea…). Sorry about the reader. I have no idea why it hasn’t appeared. And thank you for checking my Friday post in spite of that 🙂

      1. You’ve had baked custard – its the same as crème brûlée (minus the caramelised sugar). The far bretton has flour so I guess its firmer.
        I hope it has not appeared in only my reader, and not others. I can see all your other posts but this not this one.

        1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. I thought that custard was thicker than crème brûlée which is more like flan… Far breton is definitely thicker than crème brûlée (you can bite into it, it’s quite firm).
          I must say I don’t use the reader (I know I’m out of time) and I have always thought most of my regular visitors (the visible ones at least- are subscribed to my newsletter…

  8. I remember my grandmother making far breton. actualy I am bit confused because we call it clafouti (dont know if I spelled it right), but maybe its a different dish I mean. well anyway yours looks heavenly good! thanks for sharing Sissi!

    1. Thank you so much, Helene. Clafoutis is thinner, so there are more fruits and much less pastry, it is also more delicate (I have posted a mirabelle clafoutis recipe here http://www.withaglass.com/?p=956 the photo is not very good, sorry). Clafoutis is as low as a thin tart and far breton is higher and thanks to this it has a thicker, elastic texture… Oh, and clafoutis is usually made with fresh fruit which give their juice, which makes the pastry softer than far breton which is made with dried fruit. Both are excellent though 🙂

  9. I’ve never heard of this dessert, but it looks really good! I love pudding-based dessert since I prefer cold dessert to warm. The prunes look like chocolate pieces (hehe, it’s the chocolate lover in me ;)).

  10. I’ve never heard of this but I’m so intrigued. It looks so wonderful. And so perfect. And so pretty. What a beautiful looking dessert. I’ll have to try your recipe. This is certainly not an Aussie dish!

    1. Thank you so much, Charlie. You have just made me realise that apart from Pavlova and ANZAC biscuits I don’t know any Australian sweet dishes…

      1. I have 3 recipes for this in my ‘testing’ file … in one, the prunes are soaked overnight in rum instead of black tea. 🙂

        As you’ve noted, the older version doesn’t have prunes in it. Dried apricots can also be used for people who don’t like prunes. In another recipe, the 12 prunes used were replaced by ~ 3/4 cups of raisins, dried apricots and dried cherries so you’d have to use 1 1/2 cups in your recipe.

        1. Thanks again. I’m not a big fan of raisins and I have tried it once with apricots: as much as I love dried apricots, I found the far really not good. As for the rum, I have tested prune soaking but I prefer to add it directly to the batter. If you prefer raisins in cakes, you might like them in far. I usually prefer prunes for their acidity. Good luck!

  11. I think your solution to incorporating the rum into the far is better. 🙂 And I’d use prunes for the first try. Do you cut the prunes in half first or do you put them in whole?

    1. I put the prunes whole (stoned of course). If you cut them there will be some bits of the prunes all around the cake (I did it once). Good luck once more!

  12. I’ve been looking for a Far Breton recipe for a while and I just stumbled upon yours, it seems lovely! I like the fact that it has less sugar than the other recipes I found, but I wanted to ask you if it is sweet enough. I found a recipe that uses 750ml of milk and 4 eggs just as yours, but it also calls for 125g of sugar and 125g of flour which seems quite different from your version. I’m always vary about how much sugar I put in my desserts and I most often reduce the amount of it, so I’d much rather make your recipe than the one with more sugar 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Rozalia. I don’t remember where I found this recipe (it was at least 10 years ago!) but I also liked the lack of butter/cream some recipes include. 75 g sugar is not much of course, but 25 prunes bring lots of sweetness and most of the cakes I bake are just moderately sweet (though some just have to be sticky and nothing replaces sugar in certain cases…). For me this amount is enough, but I am one of those who cut down automatically 30% or more sugar in most recipes 😉 (Nothing to do with health! I simply prefer less sugar most of the time). If you are hesitating, maybe make a compromise and put 100 g sugar for the first time and then you will see if it’s too sweet or sweet enough? Good luck! Don’t hesitate to ask me questions. I hope your first Far breton will be a success.

  13. Thank you for your quick response! I was actually thinking about leaving the prunes out since I’m not a huge fan of dried fruits, and they’re also a bit hard to find in my country. When it comes to cutting down on sugar I’m just like you, I hardly ever make a recipe in which I don’t reduce the sugar amount; like you said, it’s not a health thing, I just prefer less sweet desserts. Anyways, I think I’ll go with your recipe, I can’t wait to try it out! 🙂

    1. You are welcome (if I’m working in front of my computer, I can often answer quickly to emergency questions 🙂 ). If you don’t intend to add any dried fruit, definitely double my sugar amount! On the other hand… I am wondering if you will like it without any fruit inside. Have you ever tasted far breton? It’s like custard but tougher and much chewier and personally I think I wouldn’t like it without fruits. Fruits add moisture and softness to the chewy cake. Maybe add some fresh fruits instead? But not very soft ones. I think that fresh apricots would be a good idea.

      1. No, unfortunately I haven’t tasted it yet. I guess it may be better to start from the basics so I’ll go the traditional way with the prunes, maybe I’ll like them in the cake, who knows 🙂 If that doesn’t work out, I’ll try it next time with dried apricots or some other fruits. Thank you so much for your help and suggestions, I really appreciate it!
        p.s. I just saw that you’re from Switzerland, I love Switzerland! I have a lot of family there and have visited Zurich several times, it’s a wonderful place 🙂

        1. I would suggest fresh apricots rather than dried (I prefer dried in savoury dishes and don’t like them in cakes, but it’s maybe just me…).
          What a coincidence! (Although I live in the French-speaking part and visit Zurich rarely; the German speaking part is a bit different… but mountains and chocolate are of course everywhere 😉 ).

Comments are closed.