Saturday, April 5, 2014

French Custard Cake

From Peg Cochran

The French name for this cake is "Le Far Aux Pruneaux."  Pruneaux I knew meant prunes (although they are calling them "dried plums" now.   Guess prunes had a bad rap.)  Le Far was a new word to me so I looked it up and it means Breton Custard Cake with Prunes.  So the name is apparently a little redundant.  The recipe originated in Brittany, France.  

The recipe came from a charming tea towel my girlfriend gave me.  It is printed with the recipe in French.  I read it over and could do a fairly decent job of understanding it but when it came time to make the cake, I relied on the English translation!

It is a very unusual batter--more like pancake batter than cake batter.  It is supposed to go into a cake pan but there was no way it was all going to fit into my 8 inch cake pan.  So I used a tube pan.  it turned out fine but I couldn't get it out of the pan--had to slice it in the pan and serve it like that.  No biggie because it was delicious!  Reminded me of a clafouti crossed with cheese cake--cakey around the edges and custardy in the center.  

1 cup whole prunes
4.5 cups light tea (I found 4 cups was enough)
1.5 cups white flour
3/4 cup white sugar
4 eggs
3 cups plus 8 teaspoons warmed milk
3.5 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
"Spoonful of rum" (you are on your own as to what a spoonful is.  I measured out a teaspoon but would use more next time.)

Macerate the prunes in the tea for 2 to 3 hours.  

In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt.  Make a well in the top.  Pour in sugar and eggs (I beat the eggs first).  

Add the warm milk to the bowl while constantly stirring.  (Helps to have a second pair of hands or at least a third arm for this.)

Stir in the rum and vanilla.  The batter will be very light and liquid.

Butter your cake pan with half the butter.  Drain the prunes and arrange on the bottom of the pan.  (Note: they will not stay where you put them when you pour in the batter.)  

Pour the batter over the prunes (you can rearrange your prunes now.)  Dot with the remaining butter (butter will sink.)

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for one hour.  Cake will "fall" after being removed from the oven.

Kalon Digor!  Meaning enjoy in the Breton dialect.  


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  1. Oh boy, Peg, that looks like something I would eat for breakfast this morning! I love getting the recipe from a tea towel:)

  2. An intriguing recipe! And I have long wished for that third arm. Maybe there should be an Olympic medal for cooking--all that beating and lifted and juggling. The Cookathon?

  3. What a terrific recipe, Peg! I don't really know the cuisine of Brittany and you have opened my eyes and fired up my taste buds.

    It looks beautiful too!

    Hugs and congrats on the new book.


  4. Sheila, I think you're right. We need an Olympic cooking event! One thing that's helpful is those bowls with a bit of rubber on the bottom so that they don't move. I have one left of a set of three--not sure what happened to the others! Lucy and MJ, the cake was delicious. I had two pieces and hubby ate the rest! I'm quite sure he had a piece for breakfast!

  5. I use a towel under the mixing bowl to limit its movement.
    Where did the cake stick--the bottom and/or the sides? You might try a ring of buttered parchment paper on the buttered bottom and butter and flour in the sides.
    I imagine this would be yummy with other fruits, like apricots.
    Do you discard the tea used for soaking?

  6. How sweet to have a recipe on a tea towel. And the cake looks delicious.

    Daryl / Avery

  7. Hi, Libby, the dishtowel idea is great! I will definitely try that. The cake didn't stick all that badly, it just didn't come out of the pan on the first try. I would have loosened it and tried again except my husband was standing there with his plate in his hand! He convinced me to give up and cut him a piece! I threw out the tea, but it might have been good as iced tea. Hmmm, I have some dried apricots in the pantry. Perhaps I'll give it a whirl. Good suggestion!

  8. LOL! Love the husband waiting with a plate in hand! Too funny. A very intriguing and different cake. I'll have to try it!


  9. Wonderful post, love that tea towel, just adorable, and you're translation looks absolutely delicious. Have a great weekend, Peg!

    ~ Cleo