Posted on May 17 2012

Tartine Baking Project: #58 Far Breton

I was that sixth grader listening to Tchaikovsky in my room wearing a cardigan and nibbling on prunes as I was working on a series of my essays and poems, aptly titled “My Published Work.”  I was that 11-year-old, and I am also that 29-year-old.  (Except I don’t really write poetry any more.)  So anything with prunes is A-OK in my book.  I could probably muster up the words to write a poem about how much I love prunes.

Not every recipe has an accompanying photo in the Tartine cookbook, and I’ve been staring at the beautiful photo of a clafoutis being dusted with powdered sugar.  I really didn’t even know what a clafoutis was, but I was counting down to cherry season because whatever it was looked delicious!  I read through the recipe yesterday, knowing full well I wasn’t going to make it because we’ve got no cherries right now.  Then, alas!  I came across the seasonal variation for the recipe, where you can use prunes to make something called far breton.  You soak the prunes in brandy and water.  Yes.  I was sold.

My favorite thing in the world is crème brûlée, so I’m a sucker for a good egg and milk custard.  Another plus was that it’s pretty quick and simple to assemble.  (I’m running out of those kinds of recipes!)  The final step of the recipe involved sprinkling the almost-finished dessert with sugar, then shoving it back into an even hotter oven to caramelize the sugar.  It wasn’t working.  The edges, along with a few spots were nearly blackened, while the majority of the far breton was still covered with uncaramelized sugar.  I was afraid I was going to overcook the custard, so I pulled it and decided to pull out the torch.  Yes, the torch!  (I love the torch!)  It turned the top into a pretty solid layer, much like a brûlée.   I think what makes the two desserts different is that far breton includes just a bit of flour that makes it sliceable.  Well that and the brandy-soaked prunes, of course.

I’m convinced there is nothing a little dusting of powdered sugar cannot save.  Staring at the custard as it was cooling, I was convinced I’d messed it up.  I wasn’t entirely sure what it was supposed to look like, I just knew it just wasn’t pretty.  Far Breton?  More like Far From Breton!  (That seemed more funny late last night, but I’m keeping it in there!)  Then, along came that powdered sugar making things pretty.  It’s funny, I’m actually really conscious of sugar these days.  I’m not cutting it out entirely or anything, but I’m hyper aware of the stuff – especially for my little dude.  I’ve stopped putting it in my coffee, which has been a huge, gradual step for me.   It’s definitely all about moderation.

Turns out, far breton is delicious, and the little unknown has moved up in the ranks on my personal list of favorite desserts.  It’s like some rookie just stepped up to the plate and slam dunked, or hit a grand slam, or got a hole-in-one.  Sports analogies not working for you?  It just was nominated for an Oscar.  Meryl Streep (crème brûlée) took home the statue.  Again.  Of course.  But it was an honor that far breton was even nominated.

  1. la domestique says:

    Clafoutis is such a wonderful, easy to whip up dessert. I think the prune one is beautiful. Last week I made a rhubarb clafoutis on my blog and it was nice too!

  2. Craig says:

    I think I’d prefer this even more than the cherry one. Prunes are the best. Thanks for the great photos, words and insipiration.

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