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Oct 4, 2008 05:11 AM

Hunting the perfect baked rice pudding

My husband and I were down in our local pub last night discussing food and cooking when the topic of rice pudding came up. (Partly because I had just made a small batch of clotted cream / Devonshire cream, had some very rich creamy milk left over from the process, and was thinking about making rice pudding with it.)

When the topic came up, my husband suggested that I was completely out of my mind for wanting to waste this great milk on something as awful and boring as rice pudding. It should be mentioned here that he's a Brit (born and raised in Northern Ireland), one of that generation who went to school long before Jamie Oliver started raising the UK's consciousness about the routine awfulness of school food. For him rice pudding is one of the most disgusting of the desserts routinely presented to kids as part of their school lunch (or "school dinner" in the local idiom).

So I obviously have some rehabilitation to do. I definitely have the urge for rice pudding at the moment, and want to offer Himself something that will look and taste nothing like the dreadful crap rice puddings he had to put up with in school. These (as far as I can determine) were always stovetop puddings, made with as little milk or flavoring as the school kitchen could get away with -- just sort of vaguely sweet glop with rice in it. So what I'd rather do is a baked rice pudding, something with some texture to it and good flavorings, something that will develop a nice crust, and that can be based on that lovely rich milk left over from the clotted cream making (I've got about a US pint and a half of it).

Can anyone suggest a favorite recipe that would match these criteria? I don't want to get too exotic about it: I just want to produce something that will suggest to the husband what rice pudding can really be like if you take some time and care over the process, and use quality ingredients.

And the sooner the better, please, as I have to keep him from just raiding the fridge and drinking that milk. :)

Thanks! --

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  1. Diane, I have never made a rice pudding in the oven, but I do make Portuguese Sweet Rice on the stovetop which might work. It is made like a risotto using a short-grain rice and has a hint of lemon and cinnamon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: NE_Elaine

      Hmm, this gives me some thoughts. Start out as if making a risotto (saute Arborio rice briefly in butter...), then put in the baking pot, add milk, seasonings... hmm!

      Lemon and cinnamon, that's a good thought. Orange and cinnamon would be too. I have some great German fruit zest puree I could use.

      Thanks for the thought! :)

    2. i tend to use rice pudding as a vehicle for the millions of spices i have around, or a way to use up leftover nuts/dried fruits.

      a basic one would include honey, cardamom, cinnamon, perhaps a little rose water and some walnuts. or maybe some saffron as well.

      or i stew some dried figs and apricots with honey and stir that in with some vanilla.

      you can use some finely ground semolina to thicken it up, or sometimes a little cornmeal for that "crust-texture".

      lazy, sweet-craving days include swirling in some mashed banana, peanut butter + chocolate.

      sometimes i use rice cooked in water (leftovers!), and then boil it in almond/hazelnut milk for the creaminess. you could cook the rice in milk, and fold in the cream after to stretch it further.

      i hope this helps at least a little bit... i don't go by any recipes, just sort of eyeballing it and tasting. i'm also a lazy cook, now that i'm back in school.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dumpycactus

        Thanks for all the good ideas! I too prefer to improvise when putting together something like this, but I thought I'd check to see what ideas people had first.

        The stewed fruit idea sounds really good. I have some dried pears, etc, down in the store-cupboard... should take a look through there and see what looks good.

        Oooo, hazelnut milk! Yeah. I picked up some hazelnuts just the other day. Mmmm!

        1. re: dduane

          Chow recipes has a rice pudding with plums. It's a stove top recipe. The plums are broiled, and used as a topping. Their tartness makes a nice complement to the sweet pudding.

          I've been making the stove top pudding by first cooking a short grain rice (such as arborio) in a 2:1 water ratio, then adding milk and sugar and other flavorings and cooking till soft and thickened. Total liquid ratio can end up as high was 6:1. Or it could be cooked in milk from the start. Stove top doesn't give a crust, but it is easier to adjust flavorings.

          Remember that the pudding will thicken as it cools.

      2. You might consider this one from Recipezaar...have made it a few times and it always comes out very creamy and tasty:

        6 Replies
        1. re: Val

          Val, thanks for that! I used it as the basis for what I wound up doing.

          I took 1/2 a cup of Arborio rice and sauteed it very briefly in a small heavy iron casserole with a few tablespoons of butter.

          While this was going on, I added about half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a few grinds of nutmeg from the nutmeg grinder.

          Meanwhile I took a cup of the former-clotted-cream-milk and beat an egg into it. I set this aside.

          After about five minutes of gentle sauteeing I added:

          Two cups of the rich milk
          About a quarter cup of vanilla sugar
          Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
          Half a teaspoon of Lacobi pureed lemon zest (This is a German preparation that we pick up when we hit the grocery stores over there: unfortunately I can't find a Web image or other resource to link to. Regular lemon zest would probably work fine)

          I stirred all this stuff together with the rice and let it come up to a simmer. Then I took it off the heat, added the final cup of milk-with egg, stirred it a little, and stuck it in the oven.

          I'll leave it there for an hour or so: then stir it a little and give it another hour. We'll see how it turns out. Stay tuned... :)

          1. re: dduane

            dduane...hope it turns out okay for you...I did stir it every 1/2 hour. I liked it because it was creamy but had no son was recently on low-protein diet and if I made it without eggs, rice pudding was alright for him to eat.

            1. re: Val

              Well, it came out extremely well. Thanks again for that base recipe! The hubby ate it and pronounced it good (though he did want to pour some more cream over it, which is a very UK response to desserts in general).

              Afterthoughts: It was a little on the dry side: after the first hour I needed to add some more of that rich milk. Also: there was just a spot of "scrambled egginess" about it. Next time I'll cook the egg/milk mixture to custard first and not add it until late in the process, possibly the last fifteen minutes or so.

              Thanks again, all! :)

              1. re: dduane

                Glad it was a good starting point for you...hard to tell how creamy everyone wants it, you creamy is creamy?? Possibly adding another 1/2 cup of cream or whole milk would also work. I thought that the ratio of rice to milk was silly when I first tried it, seemed like waaay too much milk but no...if you want it creamy, you really should have a lopsided proportion like that. ALSO, what kind of rice did you use? Arborio or regular long-grain if I may ask?

                1. re: Val

                  Val, I was using Arborio... found a jar of it socked away that I'd forgotten about. :)

                2. re: dduane

                  I'd lose the egg completely. I use the following proportions for riz au lait:

                  One rice-maker cup of rice, 5-6 times that volume in milk, and 5 tablespoons of sugar. Sautee the rice in butter, add the milk, sugar, a pinch of salt, a vanilla bean, and bring up to a simmer for 30-40 min. You could do the final bit in the oven.

          2. I, too, would like to find a fantastic rice pudding recipe. My grandmother used to make it growing up and frankly, it was quite awful. Dry and gloppy, not at all creamy.

            Brutal honesty moment: I really like the rice pudding from Trader Joe's cold case. If I could duplicate that at home, I would be so, so happy. It's creamy and sweet but not too sweet and just...perfect.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jencounter

              I have made this old-fashioned rice pudding recipe in my rice cooker on the porridge cycle. The recipe comes from The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook.
              2/3 cup aborio rice (measured with the rice cooker cup)
              4 cups milk (whole works best, but I use 1%)
              1 large egg
              1/3 cup sugar
              1 t. vanilla
              I cook the rice and milk on the porridge cycle. When the machine switches to the Keep Warm cycle, I add the egg, sugar and vanilla, beaten together. Then I reset to another Porridge cycle, stirring every 20 minutes until the desired thickness is met.

              1. re: jencounter

                Here's a summation of a few "foolproof" recipes recommended by Chowhounds: