When vacationing at Maison de Granit, my favorite way to spend time (besides cooking) is to be along the waters of the famed Côte de Granit Rose. This beautiful coast is so named for the great pink granite boulders scattered in the sea and at the various headlands to the west, with the most memorable stretch of coast being around Perros Guirec, where the rocks are eroded into fantastic shapes.
Along this fabulous coast, I like to take icy swims, go for long hikes and walk la grève, the muddy and fascinating exposed floor of the ocean bed at low tide. So when my dear friend Gail Green suggested we kayak along the Breton coast I was excited to see yet another perspective. Gail is a world class kayaker and runs kayak trips in Mexico and Lake Superior through her company Living Adventure. There could be no one better to guide me into these rugged waters in a kayak.
Gail contacted the local kayaking club: Centre Nautique Paimpol/Loguivy. Here we connected with Louis, a seasoned Breton kayaker extraordinaire, and perfect host on the tidal waters. He was able to set us up with kayaks, wet suits, paddles: all of the essentials, including a quick lesson on the tremendous tides of the area.
We suited up on a clear yet cool, blustery day, sat in our kayaks and glided out of the bay at Paimpol. Once we rounded the corner, we headed to a distant lighthouse as our destination. Seeing the coast for the first time from the perspective of the water was simply unbelievable! The wind, waves, crystal blue water and sea birds, lighthouses and the invigorating waves and tides added another rich dimension to my appreciation of this beautiful area. Tales of the famous corsairs operating out of St Malo and Roscoff came to mind: Jeanne de Monfort, a female corsair of the 14th century nicknamed “The Flame,” and Robert Surcouf of the late 18th century. As we passed the small island of Bréhat, I was reminded that it was used over the centuries by many of these same corsairs. The tricky tides and rocky shores, which they knew so well, protected them from pursuit.
After a few hours, we landed at a sheltered cove where Louis unveiled a mysterious parcel wrapped in a few cotton dishcloths: Warm Far! Far is a custardy pudding cake, similar to a clafouti but with a dense, smooth, flan-like texture. This one was studded with brandy-soaked prunes. And of course we had ample wine, bread and cheese to supplement our lunch. The day was perfect.
When we returned to La Maison, tired and invigorated from our paddle, Gail was so excited that she decided on the spot to add Brittany to her list of destinations for guided tours. You can get more information (and photos) from the Living Adventure web site: http://www.livingadventure.com/
Combine milk, eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in blender jar. Blend 1 minute. Add flour and pulse just until blended, scraping down sides of jar. Cover and chill in jar at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Combine prunes, 1/2 cup water, and raisins in heavy small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until fruit is softened and water is almost evaporated, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Pour brandy over fruit. Using long match, ignite brandy. Let flames burn off, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer fruit to small bowl. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Butter 8-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom with parchment or waxed paper. Butter paper. Dust pan with flour, shaking out excess; place on baking sheet.
Re-blend batter until smooth, about 5 seconds. Pour into prepared cake pan. Drop prunes and raisins into batter, distributing evenly. Bake cake on baking sheet until sides are puffed and brown and knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.
Place piece of parchment or waxed paper on flat plate. Sift powdered sugar onto paper. Run knife around cake in pan to loosen. Invert pan onto paper, releasing cake. Remove pan; peel off paper. Place serving plate over cake and invert. Dust top of cake with additional powdered sugar.