When my Frenchman asked me to make rice pudding years ago, it was a no-brainer. I remembered what my Scottish Granny and Mum had done: rained in some rice into a pint of milk, added sugar, cinnamon, sultanas and nutmeg, dotted it with butter and baked it slowly until a caramelised rice pudding emerged with a film of buttery, bubbled skin.
We ate it warm from the oven as the reassuring aromas of cinnamon wafted around the kitchen. This was comfort food at its best, my Madeleine de Proust; that feeling of drifting back for a fleeting moment, remembering Grandpa supping his rice pudding using an oversized spoon, as Agnes poured him more of the coveted extra cream from the top of the milk around the enormous bowl’s rim.
Suddenly the bubble burst. “Your rice pudding is so different to my Mum’s. She didn’t have skin on it; I remember vanilla rather than cinnamon, and we didn’t eat it warm like this,” gently prodded my Frenchman. My baked rice pudding wasn’t sexy.
It was time to do some homework. I looked up Granny’s ‘Black Book’, full of her children’s scrawls, splatters and notes for different Scottish sweet recipes ranging from neighbours such as Mrs Patterson to the Jimmy Young Show’s dictations from the radio. Nothing. No rice pudding. As Grandpa ate it just about every third day there was no need for Agnes to write it down.
I did discover that, in the north, the French also bake their rice pudding. In Normandy they make a slow-baked Terrinée, Beurgoule or Teurgoule not unlike this, although they add another half litre of milk and bake at 80°C for 6 hours.
Baked Rice Pudding Recipe: In a buttered gratin dish, rain in 100g short grain rice into 1 litre whole milk, add 80g sugar, a cinnamon stick & 50g sultanas. Dot with 40g butter and top with freshly grated nutmeg. Bake uncovered at 110°C for 2 hours.
It was time to make a different, extra creamy rice pudding or ‘riz au lait’ (reeh-oh-lay.) Bathed in a vanilla milk, showered with freshly grated nutmeg and eaten chilled. Personally, I prefer it at room temperature and can’t resist sneaking a bowl of it before placing the rest in the fridge once it’s cool. After a few trials, here’s my riz au lait; tried, tested and approved by my adorable French hubby pampered person.
Just don’t tell his Mum.
Creamy Riz au Lait Rice Pudding Recipe
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
100g pudding/short-grain rice
500ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod (or cinnamon stick)*
60g chopped dried fruit (sultanas, apricots)
50g (20+30) light brown sugar
2 egg yolks
pinch of finely grated nutmeg
* or use 1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Fill a large pan with water. Add the rice and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook for a couple of minutes then drain the rice in a colander.
2. Pour the milk (whole milk for best creaminess) into the large saucepan with the vanilla pod (or vanilla extract/cinnamon stick) and 20g of the sugar. Rain in the rice and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to that no skin forms on the milk.
3. Remove the vanilla pod, add the scraped seeds and the chopped fruits and continue to stir now and again as it heats gently for another 5 to 10 minutes. Check that the rice is cooked but not mushy.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the yolks with the rest of the sugar until it’s light and creamy. Add to the hot rice, mix well and take off the heat so not to curdle the yolks.
Serve at room temperature or once cool, chill in the fridge.
As my baby bear, Lucie, doesn’t like drinking milk, this is a great way for her to fill up on calcium. And as an obsessed macaron maker, macaronivores will love this recipe to use up more yolks!
Speaking of macarons, I’ve been caught making them again. Does this happen to you, too?