Baked egg custard has been baked for centuries across the world. The Portuguese make their irresistible pasteis de nata while the French seem to have endless window fronts packed with egg custard pâtisserie.
Today I want you to introduce you to Far Breton, perhaps the most delicious baked custard I have had in a very long time. It hails from Brittany in France and was originally eaten by farm workers for lunch. What gives this treat such a unique taste is the combination of the rum and plums in the tart. I got the recipe from The Art of French Baking and the technique used, is most interesting. You first mix the flour and egg together and then add the sugar, milk and rum. Try it … its easy and scrumptious.
(Recipe from The Art of French Baking)
250 g pitted prunes, soaked overnight in water
butter to grease the tart pan
125 g plain flour
large pinch of salt
4 eggs, large
100 g caster sugar
1 litre milk
200 ml rum
Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Grease an ovenproof dish with butter. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Add the eggs one by one, mixing thoroughly to create a smooth batter. Whisk the batter to introduce air into it. Add the sugar, then the milk. Stir in the rum. Drain the prunes, add them to the mixture and pour into the dish. Bake for 40 minutes or until brown. Serve either hot or cold.
There are a few desserts that will always be on top of my nostalgic pudding list … and one of them is my mom’s bread pudding. She tells me that her version of bread pudding comes from my aunt Bettie from Kroonstad in the Free State. In this recipe you don’t use slices of bread but rather bread crumbs and you add nutmeg and this soft meringue blanket on top. In my version I used ghee to add a nutty flavour to the dish and if you want to be a traditionalist you can add some apricot jam on top of the pudding before you add the meringue. In our house, bread pudding was always served with homemade custard or a crème anglaise.
This dessert’s simplicity lends itself to different interpretations and countless variations and any type of bread may be used – although white breads are the more commonly used. For me bread pudding is definitely comfort food with a big C.
But where does the original bread pudding come from? Bread puddings date back many centuries. Its origins can even be traced back to the days of the Romans! Back in those ancient times citizens could ill-afford to waste food so a variety of recipes stale bread were invented and became commonplace. Bread pudding was one of these recipes. Bread puddings were not only made by the Romans. Ancient versions of bread pudding include Om Ali, an Egyptian dessert made from bread, milk or cream, raisins and almonds; Eish es Serny, a Middle Eastern dish made from dried bread, sugar, honey syrup, rosewater and caramel; and Shahi Tukra, an Indian dish made from bread, ghee, saffron, sugar, rosewater and almonds.
my aunt bettie's bread pudding with a soft meringue blanket
Milk tart – they say that time changes everything, and everything changes with time…but does it? I think time is like a merry-go-round … it is only your view of things that changes, not the merry-go-round … … the “melk tert” never changed.
I grew up with “melk tert” with almond essence, puff pastry and cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. It brings back many fond and happy memories. A kaleidoscope of “Kerk bazaars” (chruch fete’s) and of course the “koek en tee na kerk op Sondae” at our home (cake and tea after church on Sunday).
The most lingering memory of the milk tart for me was custard inside the tart shell. This recipe is one of those versatile recipes that gives you the freedom to decide how you want to use it…either in a traditional puff pastry shell, or one where you create your own biscuit base or what I did … I thought I would update this age old classic without trying to change its history or heritage so I served it in my Mom’s tea cup and I added a few a Ameretti biscuits allowing the memories of the past to dwell in the sweetness of the present. I have
My mom and I made it just the way that we remembered….I went to visit her the other day and we milled about in the kitchen, talking and laughing about those times when we were much younger … the many different stories of how to make milk tart and how to bring the best tart to the bazaar, we talked about family, we giggled like young girls as the milk boiled over and the maizina mix splattered all over the kitchen counter, we counted how many “melk terte” we had made together over the years and then we counted the blessing we have been able to share – then and now. For just a few hours I was again on that merry-go-round … me, my mom, the milk tart and a heap of happy memories….