Far Breton, a specialty of Brittany, France, is a custardy cake similar to clafouti filled with rum-soaked prunes. A lovely accompaniment to afternoon tea.
According to baker and cookbook author Richard Bertinet, the custardy, clafouti-like cake known as Far Breton was originally favored by farm workers who took it into the fields as lunch. We wouldn’t mind physical labor if it came with this sweet something gilded with rum-soaked prunes. We wouldn’t mind at all. Originally published April 24, 2007.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Far Breton | French Custard Cake
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 1 H
- Serves 8 to 10
IngredientsEmail Grocery List
Recipe Testers Reviews
This custard cake is delicate and subtle and slices like a dream. One taster loved it with good tea. Others wanted a cookie or a crust to go with it. The prune layer reminded some of us of the caramel on a flan.
We soaked the prunes overnight at room temperature. The next day there was very little liquid left and the liquid had turned syrupy—the fragrance was divine and we added the prunes and a little syrup to the pan over the melted butter.
We followed the gram measurements exactly with one exception: we used 750 ml plus 3 T of milk. The batter comes together quickly and easily.
Be sure to use a deep dish. We used an extra deep 9-inch pie pan, thinking it would be deep enough, but it was not! We quickly buttered 3 ramekins and filled each 2/3 with the extra batter. Next time, we'll use a cheesecake pan with the bottom outside reenforced with foil.
It's even better if you can allow 24 hours for it to chill
The texture was very smooth and flan-like with moist, Cognac-infused prunes.
I used my 8-by-10-inch Emile Henry oval baking dish for this test, however, after filling my dish to the brim with the batter, I still ended up with 1 cup leftover batter in my bowl. The photo looks like it was made in a springform pan, which would be deep enough to accommodate this amount of batter. Alternatively, a 9-by-13-inch baking dish would also be an appropriate option.
I soaked the prunes for 5 hours in Cognac (they definitely soaked up the liquid, and I guess heating them up a bit further infused them with the flavor of their soaking liquid. My batter was very thin, like the consistency of an egg and milk mixture used for French toast. I didn’t need to add additional milk to the batter.
It took 50 minutes baking at the lower temp before my knife came out clean. I let it cool completely in the pan and the slices released cleanly and easily from the dish.
Generally, prunes are not my first go-to ingredient for a dessert, so my friends and I were pleasantly surprised to find that we enjoyed this dessert. The custard was a wonderful thick consistency that held its own against the somewhat chewy texture of the prunes. The edges of the custard formed a bit of a crust that provided a combination of three delightful textures: the smooth custard, the chewy prunes, and the drier edge.
Much of the conversation about the dessert revolved around other fruits we thought would work well. Candidates were raspberries, black raspberries, kiwi, blueberries and apricots, any of which we thought might be delicious. If I were to make it again, I might cut back the prunes to 9 ounces from the 14 ounces specified. This would allow the custard to shine through a bit more.
The ratio of the egg, sugar, and flour to the milk made a perfect thin consistency. I needed to cook the custard cake for 45 minutes to have my wet knife come out clean in the middle of the cake. When I took the cake out of the oven to cool, I immediately ran my knife around the edge of the baking dish to loosen it.