Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Le Far Breton (aka PUDDIIING!)

The story of this cake begins like this: my grandmother is paying us an indefinite visit *waving flags*, and she eats whatever elderly people eat (not very appealing stuff), therefore asked my mom to prepare her favourite dish: rice and prunes! Err.. come again? I assure you, the name alone isn't the (only) distasteful part. I immediately sprung into action, in a desperate attempt to free the innocent prunes from such a weary fate. In any event.. I only managed to get a hold of half the dried fruit (no worries though, I even ended up with leftovers, which I will turn into (part of my) breakfast tomorrow by pouring some sweetened yogurt on top).
As for the rest of the pile, it made a much appreciated entrance as a guest star for my french cuisine inspired cake.

Unfortunately, this being only the beginning of my journey to becoming a better chef, I am by no means in possession of a renowned cookbook (except of course for the occasional recipes i whip up by sneak peeking into a friend's Jamie Oliver collection (she just needs to get a hold of Jamie and the Naked Pikachu and she'll have them all..). As of this, I get most of my recipes off the interwebs. Sure, along the way I have encountered innumerable fail-proof, amazing recipes. However, this isn't the most reliable source for cooking inspiration. This occurrence is slowly turning into a fact, as proof for it is precisely what happened today: looking for a decent far breton recipe, i could not find two alike. I finally decided upon one (but I will not give out the source as it is sure to confuse my imaginary readers - I'll promote you to "imaginary friends" soon, no worries) which, although seemed a bit strange, had a very interesting introduction on Brittany. I tend to fall for stories. As prior mentioned, the process was.. odd to say the least, as one was supposed to mix the flour with eggs sugar and what not, leaving milk last. I could hardly even stir it, so i had to go for adding the milk before other dry ingredients. Regardless, it turned out great. Aye this intro is already a tad bit too long and i don't want to be a bore so brace yourselves cause here comes the pudding avalanche: (kinda looks like one, doesn't it?)

You will need:

1 3/4 cups flour (+ some extra for flouring the pan)
4 eggs (no need to separate them)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups milk
300 g prunes
a little butter for.. buttering the pan

Go for a medium-sized bowl and sift your flour into it. Just like for the bread recipe, make a tiny well in the centre and add the eggs (I added them two by two). When you feel it's getting too tiring to continue stirring or cannot incorporate any more of the flour, start pouring in the milk, little by little, whisking vigorously. You can now proceed to adding your vanilla extract and sugar, and I recommend using a hand mixer to perform this task to make sure your incorporate the sugar properly. It will look extremely liquid, and this startled me at first. Upon further pondering, I figured this is pretty much the right consistency for a pudding before baking. During my research for the perfect far breton recipe, I encountered several ones which insisted on leaving the batter "rest" for half an hour before baking it. I was unsure of this, it reminded me too much of making crepes, so I feared ending up with a giant prune pancake. Not even the fluffy type, but the taco type. So should i have allowed it to rest or not? This dilemma solved itself. The recipe asked for juicy, seedless prunes. I had the rly rly seedy.. dessicated type. It took approximately half an hour to revive my dried plums, as I had to blanch them several times and take care of the kernels. When I was finally done, I buttered and floured a round pan, appropriate in size, and poured in the batter. It had magically thickened, giving so much more support to my fruit, as they have not sinked to the bottom of my pan. All you have to do is place your prunes in the desired places, one by one, giving the cake a marbled looking top.
Place your concoction in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes or until it turns golden blown and sets completely (by checking periodically, you will notice the wobbly mid-section. This is a sign it needs to stay in for 10 more minutes or so). When done, don't immediately take it out of the oven. Let it rest for a few more minutes, otherwise the sudden temperature change will rend it uberdeflated.

Extra pics: one serving and a chomp.

I have to say.. it looks pretty authentic. Not sure about the taste as I've never had this type of cake before (but tastes gud!). I know this is an auto-appreciation, but for a first timer things went swimmingly. The last time I received this one word compliment was when I baked a cottage pudding and served some to my former foreign English teacher. It so happens that his mother made that cake for his birthday every year. In other words, I aced it. Can't beat that.


P.S.: Cottage pudding recipe coming soon. So is the caramel cake and other promised ones.

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