Our latest “Chef de Jour” is a Paris based business exec but artist at heart. Stéphane was born and raised in Brittany but came to Paris in his 20’s for his career. He has always had a talent for drawing and painting but never took the hobby seriously.
With a large family and stressful career to navigate, Stéphane has limited time to devote to this passion but it was an expat assignment that motivated him to develop his watercolor painting a little further. He started by taking an evening class while still in Paris and then while living in Brussels he took a workshop with a renowned Belgian watercolor artist.
Over the last year Stéphane has gotten more serious about developing his talent and has even launched his own website. He specializes in nautical Breton landscapes. These are the memories of his childhood vacations spots or where he now goes to seek refuge from the daily Parisian grind. Check it out here: https://stephanelabous.com
Stéphane fully admits that his talent lies in his paintbrush and not in the kitchen. However, his father shared with him the family Far Breton recipe many years ago and now it is he who carries on the tradition of making the Far for family and friends.
For the French if there is a dessert that immediately comes to mind when talking about Breton cuisine, it is definitely the Far Breton (though outside of France it’s hardly known)! So what is it? It is a delicious but also very simple dessert: eggs, butter, sugar, flour and milk. Its texture is close to a flan or clafoutis, but more dense.
While the growth of Far Breton throughout France began in the 19th century, the origins of this traditional Breton food date back at least to the 18th century, as some writings from this period suggest. The overwhelming success of the Far Breton is partly due to its simplicity. It is made from cheap ingredients that are easy to find. For me I think it works well as a dessert but also it makes a great breakfast. Often I make it the night before and then serve it to my sons in the morning who are too happy to have this tasty and filling petit-déjeuner. Eggs, milk, flour and a little bit of sugar. It keeps them going till lunch and for me as well, with a cup of tea to start my day.
The Far Breton is not with controversy, however. To prune or not to prune, that is the question. I write prunes but I remember they are now called dried plums in the US. Want to be PC and not offend anyone! It’s interesting that the FDA approved the name change of prunes to dried plums in 2000 to attract more of their target audience- women ages 34-50. It’s all marketing I swear! Also, did you know that the popular kiwi was once called a Chinese Gooseberry fruit? Kiwi sounds a little better, huh?
Today, cut up prunes are widely used in the making of the Far Breton, although they were not part of the ingredients at the beginning. Each family has those who like the prunes and those who don’t. Even the denseness varies by personal preference. Chez nous we often do ½ prune, ½ plain, or nature as they say in French.
I’m very grateful to Stéphane, this jack of all trades, for sharing his family recipe. The recipe is listed below. Notice the order that they add the ingredients. It may seem strange but it results in a perfect Far every time.
For an oval baking dishing about 60cm long
-7 soup spoons of white flour (about 160g)
-6 soup spoons of sugar (about 85g)
The way that Stéphane’s family makes the recipe is just by using a common kitchen soup spoon. No further precision, I did this when making the recipe and added the weights I obtained.
-Add 250ml of milk and 6 eggs
-Add 250ml of milk
(Here you could add a splash of vanilla extract- it’s not in the original family recipe but I add it)
Add liquid to an already buttered baking dish. I like to add some little chunks of butter (salted butter bien sûr) to the bottom of the dish. When they melt during they cooking process it is really delicious. If you are adding cut up prunes add them to the bottom of the dish before you add the liquid mixture. You can even add them to just 1/2 the dish. Don’t worry, they won’t float around.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Watch your Far while it bakes and when you see it rising up like a soufflé, take it out of the oven and let it rest a few minutes and drop down. Then put it back into the oven for the remaining time. I like my Far cooked all the way through so it is solid. Some people like it slight underdone on the top which makes it a little creamier.
I hope you get the chance to make a Far Breton, you certainly have all the ingredients at home already! Let me know how it turns out and if you’d like to be featured as a Chef du Jour please contact me!