French,  Sweet

French custard tart (Far Breton) and discombobulated headmasters

Yesterday afternoon, equipped with wetsuit and flippers (I won’t harp on about the weather — let’s just say that we’re in no imminent danger of drought), I sailed through white water torrents to fetch Léo. Upon arrival in front of the school, the car, possibly rebelling at being mistaken for a catamaran, spluttered and died. I had to comandeer several classmates and their mothers to help move the catamaran/car out of the way, the aim being that we would push while Léo steered to a less hazardous spot. So much for my theory; what actually happened is that he somehow managed to jump start the wretched thing, leaving us ‘pushers’ face-down in a puddle, our arms stretched out in front of us. I thought it probably best to avoid convoluted explanations with the headmaster who was looking, quite frankly, more than a little bewildered by the sight of one of his eleven-year-old pupils driving around the school car park with his squealing, hand-flapping, mud-speckled mother in wet pursuit…
This ‘Breton Far’ originated in Brittany in the 18th century, when it was served as a savoury accompaniment made with buckwheat flour. Today it has become a traditional dessert and is often filled with dried fruit such as raisins or prunes. The sweet version is usually now made with plain flour and white sugar, but I have made my own version, which is just as good, if not better and certainly far healthier. The combination of whole flours, eggs and honey makes for a low GI dessert.
If you replace sugar with honey in a recipe you should halve the quantity as  honey has double the sweetening power. Because honey is metabolised differently from sugar in the body and, as such, does not cause insulin spikes, it can be enjoyed in moderation without any of the downsides of other sweeteners and all of the upsides of eating honey. You should also slightly lower the cooking temperature when cooking with honey as it ‘browns’ more quickly than sugar.
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
60g buckwheat flour
60g whole spelt flour
4 free-range eggs, beaten
65g honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
500ml organic milk
120g dried, stoned prunes
Grease a rectangular oven-proof dish (roughly 22cm) and preheat the oven to 180°C. Pour the eggs, honey, vanilla, rum and flours into a large mixing bowl and beat well for about five minutes. Add the milk and beat for a a few minutes more. Garnish the bottom of the dish with the prunes and then pour in the mixture. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the mixture is no longer runny (or squelchy!). You may have to pierce the ‘skin’ after about 30 minutes. Best served chilled.


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