There are many names for cep in the world, like ‘penny bun’ in the United Kingdom, ‘king bolete’ in the USA, ‘porcini’ in Italy, ‘borowik szlachetny’ in Poland, or ‘Steinpiltz’ in Germany. Just go for a walk in a forest or a big park from late August to November and enjoy this tasty fungus. You will find cep beneath birch, beech, spruce and pine trees.
Cep can be eaten raw and is known for its crispiness and succulence. Mushroom flavor is the most dominant thanks to two typical fungal molecules: 1-octen-3-ol and 1-octen-3-one. Some green notes can also be found carrying freshness with citrusy undertones that give off a green smell in fungi. A meaty aroma is also present. 3-methylbutanal brings pleasant roasted nutty and malty nuances that pair perfectly with chocolate, resulting in delicious desserts.
Drying not only draws the water out from the cep, but changes the aroma profile as well. Mushroom flavors decrease, while roasted, nutty tones increase. The green citrusy aftertaste mellows slightly and new aroma experiences are enhanced: acidic with woody/phenolic and some spicy scents, especially clove and anise ones. The process gives extra potato and onion-like undertones. The meaty taste is preserved.
Ceps are an ideal companion for hazelnut and cocoa.
They pair well with meat, especially lamb and beef, while fresh ones can also go with veal, duck and turkey. Non-processed cep can be mixed with various fish (turbot, redfish, European seabass, cod) and shellfish (clam, king prawn, oyster).
Fresh cep also pairs extraordinarily well with versatile herbs like cilantro, sage, shiso, violet, burnet leaves or elderflower.
Blend them with other fungi: white truffle, maitake, champignon, pleurotus or pine mushroom.
Adding dairy products is a good idea, notably sour cream for fresh or stewed ceps. Serve dishes with coffee, tea (black, sencha, Darjeeling) or beer.
Cep is widely used in the kitchen, not only in savory dishes but also in desserts with chocolate mousse or as a flavour in truffles and ice cream. Italians prepare gnocchi, risotto and versatile pasta with porcini (cannelloni, pappardelle, linguini).
In France, it is a popular ingredient of quiches and tarts while Englishmen make a pie with penny buns. They can be baked into a casserole and pizza as well.
In Poland, it is a compulsory element of Christmas Eve supper, as a stuffing of small ravioli called ‘uszka’ and essential in a beetroot soup ‘barszcz czerwony’.
You can also eat the caps as a side dish, sautéed, puréed or fried. Add them to ragù or soup to enrich the flavor.
Try our recipe: cep with coffee, cheese and puffed quinoa