The Penny Bun
Here it is, at last, The Penny Bun! This world-famous mushroom goes by many names; Cep is commonly used (from French cèpe) or Porcini (from Italian – Porcino for singular), King Bolete or Bouchon (French for cork), to mention a few.
Why Penny Bun? Well, the mature mushroom has a shiny brown cap which certainly does resemble a baked bread bun and I imagine there was a time when such a bun could have been purchased for the price of a penny.
The binomial name, Boletus edulis seems to translate as “edible mushroom”. Boletus relating to the Latin, bōlētus – “mushroom” (though some attribute it to the Greek “clod or lump”). Edulis being the Latin word for “edible” or “eatable”.
Searching for the Penny Bun
The Penny Bun mushroom is definitely high on the bucket list for most foragers. It felt like a long time coming for me but actually I only started my mushroom journals less than two years ago and I know there are many who have searched for much longer without success!
The first Boletus edulis that I knew I’d found last year had already been well munched by some happy slugs and did not look very appealing to me…
Last year was my first proper season hunting mushrooms and everything was new to me. I would examine and collect specimens, eager to learn but rarely pick anything to eat. This year I’m enjoying it even more as I recognise so many more species and am able to collect more edibles to bring home and eat with confidence.
I was recently looking back at some of my early photos from last year and to my dismay I noticed… A Penny Bun!
Finding The Penny Bun
Yes, it was a bit of a bummer to see that the thing I was searching so hard for had been in my hand but I’ve probably found loads of delicious mushrooms without knowing it. It’s not edible if you don’t know what it is!
Thankfully, it was only a day after this dismal revelation that I knowingly found an actual Penny Bun!
Okay, in the interest of transparency, it was actually my companion who spotted it first. We had just found a nice patch of edible Boletes, which we were gathering to taste when my friend found one lone Cep in reasonable condition.
Eating The Penny Bun
Despite eagerly searching the area, it was the only one we could find.
It wasn’t a very big mushroom and we shared it between two of us so a mere morsel. This was the 31st August and it was the very next day, (first of the month nicknamed Ceptember among foragers) that I found Cep heaven.
It started with just one, small, even smaller ones nestled close by…
Elated, we walked through the forest, finding a couple more along the way and then Chanterelles! Only a few but still, this was turning out to be a very exciting forage. Eventually, we started to walk back towards home as everyone was hungry and tired but my eyes were still peeled for more Penny Buns, I did not feel quite satisfied with our little handful…
I suddenly realised we were back to the spot where we found the first ones, almost at the car… too soon! I wasn’t ready to relinquish my search yet.
I began peering into the bushes and suddenly I saw one, a big one! And another.. and another… everyone joined in the search and the woods began to echo with excited yells of triumph as they began to appear all around us.
My little girl who’d not been joining in before, infected by the excitement decided to get in on the search… she crawled into the bushes and then I heard an ominous voice say “mum… I’ve found a mushroom…” and I knew by her tone that she had found A Mushroom. No shit! She had only gone and found the biggest one of the day!
Penny Buns Galore!
That was such a great day, one I’ll always remember.
Feeling joyous, I wished I’d brought some cooking equipment so we could just cook them up then and there.
Instead, we settled for the next best thing, drove back home to get the stuff and settled at our favourite sunset spot to end the day in the style it deserved…
The funny thing is that since that day, I haven’t stopped finding them. I mean, literally, everywhere I go I’m finding them. I’ve actually become quite blasé about them… from “OMG I FOUND A PENNY BUN!!!” to “oh… there’s another one.” in just a matter of days.
I’m not even bothering to collect them half the time (please don’t kill me pre-Cep-finding folk!).
I’m even keeping count… Seven consecutive outings have yielded more Ceps so far, I’ve even been spotting them from the car!
I also have a theory that my brain, clever thing that it is, has recorded the image and associated euphoria and is more likely to spot it from a peripheral view… It would explain why you can search and search to no avail for a particular mushroom and then once you see one, you start to see them in places you’d already looked.
More Penny Buns...
The first lot I ate with Pasta, fresh herbs and Courgette from the garden. I also made a Porcini Tart with Walnuts, Garlic and Sage…
I’ve mostly been eating the younger ones fresh and drying the older/nibbled ones for later use.
I will be gifting some to my mother who was unable to hide her jealousy, as she’s been looking for them a lot longer than me and still hasn’t found one… 🙄
What's So Good About Penny Buns Anyway?
Are these the best tasting mushrooms in the world?
Well, that’s a matter of opinion. I’m not sure if they’re my favourite wild mushroom so far but they are certainly a really good wild edible.
They are great for beginners as it’s difficult to mistake them for anything poisonous, their closest lookalikes are edible and often equally delicious (with the exception of the Bitter Bolete (Tylopilus felleus) which is not poisonous but can ruin a meal, apparently.
The ones I’ve dried smell absolutely amazing so I’m looking forward to experimenting.
Thanks For Reading...
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed my Penny Bun journal entry. Please comment and share your own thoughts and experiences with this mushroom, any good tips or recipes welcome. 😊
I am hoping to find some more of Foraged Mushroom Number 15, which I mentioned above… I only found enough for a tiny sample to taste and I’d very much like to sample a bit more before I write that post. Wish me luck!