Who can resist a cake, of any kind? But Farro? That’s a stretch. I got to thinking about cakes and, surprisingly, I didn’t start with the chocolate one, but with crab cakes, then sweet potato cakes, salmon cakes, and eventually I did get to my favorite dessert.
On the way through this cakes’ daydream I conjured up wild mushroom cakes. A good idea, or a rowdy imagination run amok, no matter, I thought it was worth a try. Not a new invention, there are mushroom burgers out there, but here’s a way to fashion a seasonal ‘cake’ with wild mushrooms and *Farro. Because of its likeness to a crab cake, and how I would like for it to be that good, I’ll optimistically call it a wild mushroom farro cake, which is a mouthful. Not so much amok, these are delicious.
Wild Mushroom & Farro Cakes Recipe
1/2 C Emmer Farro (Farro expands to 1 C after cooking)
6 T butter (Or, use a combination of olive oil and butter)
2 T finely chopped shallot
1 finely chopped clove of garlic
1 t rosemary & 1 T thyme, finely chopped
1/2 C chopped parsley
2 C finely chopped wild mushrooms, measured after chopping. (Mushrooms reduce to 1 C after cooking.) Chantrelles, Boletus and other wild mushrooms are available at Farmers Markets now.
1/2 C panko bread crumbs, plus additional for coating
2 T cream
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper
Optional: Mix 1 T lemon zest and plenty of black pepper with bread crumbs.
Directions: Cook 1/2 C Farro in 2 1/2 C water with 1 t salt for 45-55 minutes, lid on/ When done after 40 – 45 minutes – I like it with a bit of a bite – drain thoroughly and set aside to cool. Or, cook 1 C Farro in 5 cups water and have a little extra for later. Bluebird Grains Farm‘s Emmer Farro is grown in Western Washington and is available online, at some local grocers, and now in bulk at PCC markets.
Melt 3 T butter along with a small amount of olive oil in a medium sauté pan/ Add shallots and garlic, stir and cook for 30 seconds/ Add finely chopped mushrooms, salt & pepper to taste, the rosemary and thyme/ Cook on medium high heat for 3 or 4 minutes stirring occasionally until juices have almost disappeared/ Set aside to cool.
Beat egg in large bowl with the cream, which can be omitted. The cream adds a nice bit of moisture, but also makes for stickier work in forming the cakes (a little butter or oil on fingers might help)/ After farro and mushroom mixtures have cooled a bit add all remaining ingredients and mix together thoroughly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Scoop 1/2 C of the mushroom-farro mix, compress firmly into a patty and sprinkle one side with panko/ Carefully place patties on a flat plate, panko-side-down/ Now sprinkle top side with panko, pat gently and now both sides are lightly coated with breadcrumbs/ Cakes are tender at this stage, handle with care. 1/2 C patties yield 5 cakes, 1/4 C appetizer size yield 10 – 12.
It felt a little tenuous at this point, and I wondered if cakes would hold together for cooking. They did, and here’s the trick. Refrigerate for 45 minutes, or up to several hours if needed. This is important. Refrigeration results in ingredients setting and creating a viable patty that can be successfully sautéed. And I wonder if forming the cakes would be easier if mixture were refrigerated for a while first. Next time.
To sauté: Melt 3 T butter (or olive oil) in a frying pan until sizzling/ Turning cakes carefully, cook on medium heat for four or five minutes per side until golden brown/ Serve on a bed of lightly dressed fresh or steamed greens.
Wild Mushroom & Farro Cakes can be a meal or an appetizer, on the side with a green salad, topped with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche. I’ll make a batch of small cakes and take bite-sized morsels to a friend’s this weekend. There’s extra farro already cooked and a few more mushrooms – it’ll be a quick fix.
*Bluebird Grains Farm : “Our signature grain is an ancient, nutrient dense wheat called Emmer, or Emmer Farro. Our other grains include Hard Red Spring Wheat, Hard Spring White, Soft White Wheat and Northern Fall Rye.Our in house handling of these grains results in berries, cracked cereals, fresh flour and other dry blends such as our flavorful, nutritious whole grain pancake mix.”