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A dessert from Brittany – how to make Far Breton

November 14, 2019

Far Breton with eggs sugar and tea

We weren’t at a small, artisan producer where I stuck my rubber-gloved hands into a huge wooden churn and helped to heave out a gleaming yellow mass. We weren’t at a fine French restaurant.

This was a pristine factory with immaculate steel, metal stairs, and quiet automation where we padded around cocooned in plastic coverings from head to toe. Yet it was here that I tasted a dessert that had me begging for the recipe long after returning to Dubai. Far Breton.

This whole tale starts with butter and a tour of Brittany and parts of Western France famed for its lush, green grass. This particular day started with a visit to Echiré where the eponymous butter has been made, at the same location, since 1894. It was very hands-on, as mentioned above, and we delved deep into the history and the process, watching ever stage of creating the creamy, salty butter that is savoured by good food lovers and top chefs. The Japanese are wild about it too.

By the time we got to La Toile a beurre restaurant in Ancenis we were ravenous. We ate well – meaty dorade fillets with citron confit, buttery mashed potato, farmhouse chicken infused with thyme, local strawberries in a nest of rhubarb and biscuit to name a few dishes – so sated and in post lunch stupor we reached the Paysan Breton butter-making facility.

Paysan Breton

Being led round the factory where one of the biggest brands of butter in France is made was quite a contrast to our earlier visit. However, Paysan Breton is a cooperative, co-owned by the farmers that supply the milk (which is all from grass-fed cows). The pats of butter are shaped to resemble handmade ones with curved edges and ridges that the wooden paddles would have made in the past.  There are five different types of butter in the range including one flavoured with salt that’s traditionally harvested by hand from the nearby marshes of Guerand, one with sea salt, and a demi-sel which is so important to this recipe. It’s this value put on ingredients and provenance that’s so impressive from a major manufacturer.

Returning to a conference room we were rather daunted to see another spread of food but it’s amazing how your appetite can be rekindled. We tasted and compared all the butters and then attacked the traditional butter-based dishes from the region.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating could have been coined for Far Breton.  Unassuming in looks with a dark brown sunken top, once cut into there was everything that appeals to a custard lover like me. A creaminess of eggs, milk and vanilla with deep, goey prunes lurking delectably at the bottom. The maker of this perfect pudding was a factory worker called Justin.  The memory of the Far Breton stayed with me, I needed to make it myself.

So one Friday morning, Tiffany (a fellow butter tourist) and I rolled up our sleeves to make the recipe, translated into English for us from Justin’s original.

tray with tea, sugar and far breton

Good ingredients make a difference

Far Breton, also known as Far aux pruneaux, is a very simple recipe but success depends on using the right ingredients:

  • Flour – plain, white flour, organic if possible.
  • Sugar – caster sugar (you could use the golden type).
  • Butter –   The last coating of melted butter poured over the top adds another layer of buttery flavour and leaves little crunches of salt so using demi-sel (slightly salted) is important. It needs to be a good quality butter like Paysan Breton (available in Carrefour in the UAE) as the Far Breton depends on it for its taste.  The irregular grains of salt add to the texture, but you don’t want it to be too salty so regular salted would be OTT.   Perhaps you could use unsalted butter and add a little sea salt of your own – from reading the packets I think it might be a 2% ratio – however I haven’t tested this method myself.
  • Eggs – free range, organic.
  • Milk – full fat, organic, local if possible. In UK I would use something like Jess’s Ladies (winner of the best producer in the Observer Food Monthly awards 2019). In the UAE, Organiliciouz local organic milk.
  • Vanilla – As always the quality of vanilla is really important especially in such a simple dessert as this where the eggs, butter, flour and sugar are a lake in which the prunes sink, like juicy pebbles, at the bottom. There is nowhere to hide. Use a teaspoon of vanilla extract (here’s how to make your own), or the seeds scraped from a vanilla pod or two (like we did) or a sachet of good quality vanilla sugar (which the original recipe calls for). DO NOT under any circumstances use vanilla flavouring or essence.

Important:  before you race off to gather the ingredients and put the oven on, please note you MUST use demi-sel butter*. The last coating of melted butter poured over the top leaves flavour and little crunches of salt.

tea, milk, butter, far breton

Far aux Breton

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Also known as Far aux Pruneaux, a traditional dessert from Brittany, France, made with simple ingredients. A celebration of delicious dairy produce


Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 60g “demi-sel” butter (plus extra for greasing)
  • 260g plain flour
  • 240g caster sugar
  • Seeds scraped from 1 or 2 vanilla pods
  • 1 litre of full-cream milk
  • Dried prunes 250g – 500g according to taste (I used 300g)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Beat the eggs in a jug. Melt the butter, either in a pan on a very low heat or on a low setting in the microwave. Do not let it sizzle.
  3. Put the flour, sugar and vanilla into a large bowl (or the bowl of your food mixer). If making by hand, make a well in the middle, pour the eggs into it then start to gradually incorporate the flour into the eggs by bringing it in from the sides, a little at a time.  Alternatively do this in your food mixer on a slow speed.
  4. When your batter is smooth add 20g of the melted butter, then pour in the milk slowly while stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon. This can also be done on slow speed in the food mixer.
  5. Butter a baking dish generously, then pour in the batter. Place the prunes into the dish, spacing them evenly into the batter.
  6. Bake on a medium shelf for 50 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and brush the rest of the melted butter over the top of the Far aux Breton evenly. Spread right to the edges so that some butter can seep down the sides of the dish.
  8. Place the dish back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove and leave to cool to room temperature before serving.

Best eaten the same day. It solidifies if kept in the fridge.

Far Breton

Pin it for later

This is just a small jigsaw piece in my journey in butter. Tell me if you’d like to know more. I didn’t know there was so much to learn about such a simple ingredient.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2019 11:39 pm

    I love this kind of simple but wonderfully delicious French dessert.

  2. November 15, 2019 4:00 am

    Thanks for posting this! It is similar to my Aunt Jeanette’s old family recipe which I had forgotten about.

  3. December 1, 2019 8:12 pm

    Looks great!!

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