Baked Farro Pudding: Sweet & Slow

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Patience is not a virtue of mine. From the moment I injured my finger I have pestered my doctor, and now my hand therapist, about when I can start cooking (with two hands) again, and writing (with two hands) again* and playing tennis (I have a two-handed backhand) again. And so on.

While the answer is not as soon as I would like, the good news is that it is now only a matter of weeks before I can start employing my recuperating digit in small tasks. Even better: both my doctor and my hand therapist seem optimistic that I will eventually recover full use of it, provided I perform my prescribed exercises faithfully and don’t try to rush things. So, while I am not good at being patient, I have, in the interest of my finger, not to mention my career and longterm well-being and sanity (and that of my family), strived to be a good patient.

I thought it would be nice to celebrate this bit of happy news with a small homage to that gentle virtue—patience—in the form of this gentle, slow-baked farro pudding. You may well be familiar with farro, a grain that dates back to Roman times, but is enjoying immense popularity right now. Traditionally, it has been used in those hearty vegetable soups typical of Italy’s Garfagnana region, a rugged corner of northern Tuscany. But nowadays it is featured in all sorts of recipes, from grain salads to risotto-style dishes.

This sweet, slow dessert, however, is a departure. It is similar to rice pudding, only better, in my opinion. The farro is baked in cinnamon- and lemon-infused milk (or a mixture of milk and cream) for several hours in a low-temperature oven, with nothing more than a little stir now and again to help it along. So yes, it takes awhile, but it is easy to make. And it is worth the wait, for what emerges is a lovely thickened cream the color of caffe’ latte, in which the fat grains of farro are suspended like rough-textured pearls.

You can certainly eat the pudding warm, as you might be inclined to do in February. But, again, you will be rewarded if you wait a few more hours and allow it to chill completely in the refrigerator. Served cold, this pudding is a luscious treat any time of year, a mood lifter with its flowery aroma of cinnamon and citrus, cool and soothing by the spoonful, nourishing, and definitely good for what ails you (and me).

*This post brought to you by my right hand.

 

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Baked Farro Pudding

This recipe is from my book Big Night In.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup farro
  • 4 cups whole or reduced-fat milk, or 3 cups skim milk and 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 (3-inch) strips lemon peel
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Vegetable oil for coating the baking dish
  • Whipped cream for serving (optional)

Instructions

Place the farro in a medium-sized saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain the farro in a colander and transfer it to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse the farro just until the grains are coarsely ground, 30 to 45 seconds.

Heat the oven to 275 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the farro, milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and lemon peel. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture and add the pod as well. Mix well. Coat a 2-quart oven-proof baking dish with a little oil. Pour the mixture into the dish and place in the oven. Bake the pudding for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, until thickened and creamy. Stir it briefly every hour or so to prevent a skin from forming.

Remove the pudding from the oven. Discard the vanilla pod and the lemon peel if you can locate them. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly over the top of the pudding and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

To serve, spoon the pudding into individual custard cups and garnish with a dollop of whip cream, if you like, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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25 Responses to Baked Farro Pudding: Sweet & Slow

  1. AdriBarr February 17, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Ciao Domenica,

    Well, I am indeed sorry to hear that this injury has proven to be so serious as to require ongoing therapy. How quickly things can go wrong never ceases to amaze me. However, it sounds as if you are keeping a positive attitude, and this dish is just the thing to help your recovery along. The addition of lemon sounds like a perfect touch. Thank you for another wonderful recipe. Take care, and get better quickly.

    • Domenica February 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

      Thank you, Adri. The most surprising thing to me is that the area of my finger that was hurt is small–less than an inch, but the impact and repercussions have been huge. And yes, the injury happened in an instant and the recovery is going to take months. Oh well. At least there’s comfort food! Thank you for reading, my friend.

  2. Marnely Rodriguez February 17, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    I’ve never had farro, but this recipe looks so comforting!

    • Domenica February 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      Oh Marnely, you should try farro. It’s a wonderful grain with a great texture and lots of character. I mostly use it in soups and in farro salads, which are especially good in summer. If you need a source, you can find it online at agferrari.com and gustiamo.com, among other purveyors. Cheers, and thanks for your comment.

  3. Tori February 17, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    I never thought of farro in a pudding — brava! Hang in there with that digit, girl. Physical therapy is the key to recovery — as I have learned with my hip.

    • Domenica February 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

      I will tough it out, Tori. Did I tell you I can’t wait to see you in NY? I can’t wait to see you in New York!

  4. Laura February 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    This looks beautiful. I am sorry to hear about your hand! Farro is one of my new favorite discoveries. Does it stay chewy in this dish? I love its chewiness and I find rice puddings to be mushy. Am wondering if I would like this better. PS I just posted about your huntsman’s pasta. :)

    • Domenica February 17, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

      Good question. I know what you mean about rice pudding. The farro grains become tender but they still retain that appealing chewy texture. That’s what makes this so nice. Try it. Going to check out your post. Hope you liked the pasta!

  5. Elisa February 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    This recipe sounds wonderful! I have to make it, but I will add few raisins soaked in rum. Keep after that finger!

    • Domenica February 18, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

      Great idea, Elisa; rum, or…Punch Abruzzo. I’ve put dried cherries in the pudding before, which is also a nice addition.

      • Elisa February 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

        I made it yesterday! I didn’t put raisins or cherries, the only thing I added is a couple of drops of Fiori di Sicilia, che delizia!!!!!! Grazie per la buonissima ricetta, reminds me a little bit of migliaccio napoletano.

        • Domenica February 21, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

          I have a bottle of fiori di Sicilia. What a great way to use it. So glad you liked the pudding, Elisa. I have not had migliaccio–now I want to try it.

  6. Jamie February 19, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Is there where we bring up that old joke “Doctor, when the bandages come off my hand will I be able to play the piano?” – ha ha ha. And I’ve been looking through the book wondering which recipes to start with and this must be it! I’ve been craving a pudding of some sort lately and was thinking panna cotta, but my rice pudding-loving husband will go nuts for this!

    • Domenica February 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

      Jamie, thanks for the laugh! Can’t wait to see you in person in NY!

  7. Frank February 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Patience truly is a virtue, and a rare one, too.

    I like the idea of using farro for a pudding—a healthier alternative to rice!

    • Domenica February 20, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

      We just had it again tonight, Frank. I like it much better than traditional rice pudding, and I’ll bet you will, too.

  8. Betty Ann of QueensNotebook February 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    What a great recipe! I had Farro as a side when I tried your Postmark Chef kit. Good to know I can make a wonderful pudding with it. Thanks for sharing, Domenica. Hope your hand heals soon! Take it easy :-)

    • Domenica February 21, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

      Thank you, Betty Ann. Yes, farro is versatile–one more reason to love it.

  9. Elisa February 22, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Scusa, il video italiano fa vedere il migliaccio fatto con il semolino e non con wheat berries.

    • Domenica February 22, 2012 at 10:07 am #

      Grazie, Elisa. Forse il migliaccio e’ come la pastiera che fa mia mamma per pasqua? She uses wheat berries. The semolina variation looks wonderful. I will have to try it. Thank you for sharing those links.

  10. Elisa February 22, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Yes, is almost like pastiera, but easier to make. Is called “migliaccio” because anticamente was made with miglio (millet) and with mais (cornmeal).

  11. ciaochowlinda March 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Well, what a great idea for a pudding. I have eaten farro but always in savory dishes. I love this version for a different twist on dessert.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Maccheroni alla Chitarra di Farro con Pesto di Cavolo Nero – The Front Burner - February 27, 2012

    [...] dishes. It is also great as a breakfast cereal and even in dessert, like the Baked Farro Pudding at DomenicaCooks. Farro can also be ground into flour, and used in equal proportion with all-purpose flour yields [...]

  2. Flowers to Cut Madness - February 11, 2014

    […] we were greeted by the smell of the slow baked vanilla, cinnamon and lemon from the nutty milky farro dessert I’d discovered on Domenica Cooks which I thought I could try serving warm rather than her […]

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