Whilst on holiday in Vietnam, we sampled a wonderful local delicacy “Banh Chuoi Nuong”, a dessert made using banana , bread, coconut milk and cream. This is a Vietnamese take on Far Breton, a classical dessert from the Brittany region of France.
Well having enjoyed the local version so much, I had to investigate the original dish. It is fairly easy to make, and is a creamy baked egg custard with prunes and an optional hint of rum.
The classical recipe for Far Breton (or “Farz Forn”, as it was known when spoken in the original Breton language) uses prunes. If this particular fruit is not to your taste, there are some alternatives listed in the variations section below.
This is a dessert best prepared the day before, it is at its best when allowed to completely cool and then set overnight in a fridge.
- Kitchen scales
- Measuring jug
- Mixing bowl
- Hand whisk
- Baking dish (preferably ceramic)
- Ideal size 9 x 9 x 2 inches / 24 x 24 x 5 cm
- Small sharp knife
- Small saucepan
- Colander or sieve
- Pastry brush
- 200g soft pitted prunes
- 750ml full fat milk
- 125g caster sugar
- 125g plain flour
- 30g butter
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 75ml dark rum (optional)
- Soak the prunes in rum beforehand (optional).
- Put the baking dish in oven. Preheat oven to 220C (200C for fan).
- Add the salt, vanilla essence, sugar and eggs to bowl, then milk. Whisk.
- Add flour to bowl in stages, whisking at each stage.
- Gently heat the prunes in either the rum or water for a few minutes. Drain.
- When ready, take the dish out of oven.
- Add the butter to the dish, melt it and spread around the dish.
- Add the prunes to centre of dish, pour batter around edges to cover prunes.
- Put dish into oven, cook for ten minutes.
- Turn temperature down to 200C (180C for fan).
- Cook for 30 minutes or until a knife can be drawn cleanly from centre of batter.
- Remove from oven, cool on a rack.
Method (descriptions and pictures)
The prunes benefit from a small infusion of rum, so if desired, soak the prunes in rum for at least an hour beforehand. If I’m making this in the evening, I soak the prunes in rum in the fridge before I go to work.
Put the baking dish onto a rack in the midle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 220C. I have found that I get better results using a non-fan setting for the first ten minutes, then a fan setting for the remainder.
Whilst the oven is heating up, put the sugar into a bowl and add the eggs. Pour in the milk, and add the salt and vanilla essence. Whisk the ingredients together so there is a good concentration of air bubbles in the liquid. Then add the flour a bit at a time, whisking as it is added. At the end of this process you will have a slightly viscous batter mix full of air bubbles.
With a few of minutes before the oven will be at temperature, put the prunes and either the rum (if it was being used) or a small amount of water into the saucepan. Gently heat the prunes for 2 minutes, then drain them using a colander or sieve.
When the oven is at temperature, remove the baking dish add the butter so it melts. Spread the melted butter around the dish (including the sides) using a pastry brush to give it a good coating. Add the prunes, arranging them in a square in the centre of the dish, leaving a small gap between the prunes and the sides of the dish.
Then slowly pour the batter mix into the dish, around the edges where there are no prunes. The aim is to keep the prunes in the middle of the dish, without disturbing them, and cover them in batter.
Put the baking dish back into the oven on the middle shelf. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200C (180C fan oven). You may see that after a couple of minutes the sides of the batter mix rises, that’s fine. It will go back down when the dish cools later on.
Continue baking for another 30 minutes. Take a sharp knife, run it under a warm tap and insert it into the middle of the batter. If the knife comes out clean with no batter mix on it, the dessert is ready. Otherwise clean the knife off and check again after 5 minutes.
Once ready, remove the dish from the oven and let it completely cool before putting it in the fridge to set.
- Use raisins as well as, or instead of, prunes
- Use plums instead of prunes for plumper fruit
- Use brandy instead of rum for different aromatics in the prunes
- Use spiced rum instead of dark rum for an extra flavour
- Substitute the prunes for dried, pitted apricots and the rum for apricot brandy.
Using semi-skimmed milk does not work. I tried it once and it didn’t have the depth of flavour or consistency that comes with using full fat milk.
Some recipes call for sprinkling with icing sugar, personally I prefer it without (as pictured below). This is perfect for taking on a picnic as it is quite portable in a sealed container.