Thursday, January 19, 2012

Far Breton

Roman-style vase in the mosaic in the background
In 1863, a writer from Nantes in Brittany chats with fellow thinkers and sits down to write about a young man who opens his garage with electrical power, does business by sending a facsimile 20,000 leagues away, and jumps into a magnetic train in Paris to reach his destination within the city in six minutes. This novel, Paris in the XXth century, predicted Paris of the 1960´s, though it was unfortunately not published until 1994. I read it four years later, when I purchased it upon my first visit to the French metropolis. 

Its author, Jules Verne, along with Fulgence Bienvenue(creator of the subway), are one of many famous Bretons that include: Jacques Cartier,  Lafayette, actress Marion Cotillard, and Anne de Bretagne, who ate the first almond galette des rois with her son. 
Jules Verne was said to have been inspired by the immense ships that arrived and left his hometown. However, the entire region of Brittany, with its vast archipelagos, and fringed by ocean waves that crash on the sands of its long coastline, holds many treasures. Dolphins and 37 protected species of animals bob in the waves. Its rich geological formations tell prehistoric tales, and hold Roman ruins. 
It is in this region full of cliffs and sea foam spray that the Far (which means flour) Breton was born. It wasn´t always sweet. Created in the eighteenth century in Brittany, its predecessor, Farz Fourn or oven baked Far, used to have buckwheat or wheat flour and was a savory pudding served alongside meat dishes. Cooks added more butter and eggs to turn it into a dessert that became more popular in all of France in the nineteenth century.  In the western side of France, it is filled with prunes; in other locations, raisins adorn it. This rich pudding is similar to clafoutis, with the difference being that the latter, from the Limousin region, is made with unpitted sour cherries and is less firm.  

The traditional far breton doesn´t have that much fruit
It is best served warm along with cottage cheese or apple or blueberry marmalade.
The first time I made it, the recipe had obviously too many apples... it was absolutely delicious but certainly didn´t resemble any of the other pictures I saw declaring that it was a semi-firm pudding. You see, to start with you normally don´t see apple slices sticking out anywhere, much less the top of the dish. So I had to try a second time... this time I stuck to the "nature" (pronounced nah-chyuhr) version, which means plain. 
Nature (plain) version

220 g flour
130 g sugar
5 eggs
1 envelope of vanilla sugar
3 cups of milk
20 g salted and melted butter 
2 tsps. golden rum
Preheat oven at 350ºF. Mix the flour, sugar, vanilla sugar and eggs and beat well. Melt the butter, then add it along with the milk and the rum. Pour ir into an ovenproof dish and place it in the oven for 1 hour. To make it look golden, I put it under broiler for 3 minutes, then take it out of the oven. 
It is so-hoooo easy! The hardest part is waiting for an hour for it to finish cooking.
A slice of Far Breton next to a vase from Limoges (not in Brittany).

The taste is smooth and creamy, similar to a sweet version of Yorkshire Pudding (England) or Latin American Bread or Corn Pudding. Some sites mention it is similar to flan, but I don´t agree. Flan is sweeter and less firm, and does not contain flour.


Each week, I will choose my favorite website from all those referenced. This week, I would choose the free online Jules Verne book website:    You can´t beat getting free books online! That said, I´ve only read two books online before. Nonetheless, I hope to read more of them in the future!

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