from one generation to the next
Rice pudding has warm and fuzzy connotations for me. Whenever my Mum baked a roast dinner she would put a simple English style baked rice pudding in the bottom of the oven tucked well under the meat tray to avoid splatter. It was always a super sweet dessert, spiced with a hint of nutmeg, the texture soft, thick and gluey, but as a kid, I loved it. If there was a spoonful of tart stewed fruit on the side, I was in seventh heaven.
Since making Claudia Roden’s Rose Scented Rice Pudding last year, I have abandoned cooking rice pudding in the oven. The brown crust that develops as the pudding bakes in the oven masks close scrutiny resulting in overcooked rice. It’s much easier to monitor and control the rice slowly absorbing the milk over a low heat on the stove top.
My expectations of rice pudding have changed. Each grain of rice must keep it’s identity, be slightly al dente and suspended in a sweetly spiced cream. I prefer rice pudding chilled now, it helps reduce the sweetness but I still love tart fruit as an accompaniment.
Blood plum season inspired me to try Greg Malouf’s decadent Saffron Rice Pudding recipe from his book “New Feast.” Blood plums, roasted to intensify their tart flavour balanced the creamy sweetness of the rice perfectly, as would rhubarb, apricots and unsweetened apples.
6 large blood plums
1/2 cup raw sugar
Preheat the oven to 150C fan forced.
Place a wire rack in an ovenproof tray and cover with a sheet of baking paper.
Cut the plums into quarters ad discard the pips.
Place the sugar in a small bowl then toss the plums in the sugar so the cut surfaces are coated.
Arrange the plum quarters skin side down on the prepared baking tray.
Bake the plums for 1 hour.
Remove and cool.
Malouf’s Saffron Rice Pudding
12 saffron stamen
800 mls of milk
90g castor sugar
finely grated zest of 1 small orange
1 small cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla pod, split and scraped
100g short grained rice
1 egg yolk
150mls double cream
Soak the saffron stamens in 1 tablespoon of boiling water for 1/2 hour.
In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, milk, zest, cinnamon, vanilla pod and seeds and saffron water.
Slowly bring the milk to the boil, stirring constantly until the sugar has melted. Add the rice and stir until the milk returns to the boil.
Reduce the heat, put a simmer pad under the pot and cook very gently until the rice has absorbed the milk, about 1 hour.
Stir from time to time, more frequently once the pudding begins to thicken.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes then fish out the pieces of cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.
Whisk the egg yolk with a couple of tablespoons of the cream then whisk it into the rice.
Chill the rice until completely cold, then whisk the remaining cream into stiff peaks and fold it into the cold rice. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
To serve, divide the rice pudding between 8 serving glasses. Arrange 3 segments of roasted plum on top, then enjoy