Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rice Pudding (à la my Gran)

Today I am off work, feeling rather queer - mainly dizzy, but also sporadically nauseous. It is pouring with rain, as it seems to have been for days - on Sunday I woke up to a fantastic thunderstorm. I love thunderstorms - the more lightening the better - and every time there is one here I rather miss living in a house where one can appreciate the drumming on the roof whilst watching and listening from the warmth of the sofa. Though come to think of it, I have been known to go outside in the middle of the night to stand in the rain too. Anyway, it is very obvious that we are firmly on our way into the darker seasons and so, to make the best of an otherwise depressing fact of life in this country, I made a pudding which complements it. Rice pudding is exactly the sort of thing that you want to eat when it is bleak and miserable outside. It also requires the oven be on for several hours, so fits well with a housebound and cold day. The recipe I use is my Gran's - she would make it when I visited her and my grandfather without my siblings, who incomprehensibly didn't like it - and is made with milk only. It is therefore relatively austere, compared with alternatives I have seen in modern recipe books: if you like a very creamy rice pudding I suggest you replace some of the milk with cream and add a teaspoon of vanilla essence. I also put in only a little sugar, because we always ate it with golden syrup drizzled over the top to form the first initial of the eater. This last part is very important - it doesn't taste the same at all if you don't do the letters.

To serve four to six, depending on their love for rice pudding:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 5 tablespoons (60g) pudding rice
  • 1 pint of full fat milk (or a milk and cream mixture)
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • good grating fresh nutmeg
  • Golden syrup, or jam, to serve

  • Preheat the oven to 140°C. Grease an ovenproof dish - I use a round pyrex casserole with a diameter of about 8 inches. Put the rice, sugar, milk and remaining butter in the dish and give it a bit of a stir. When it has stopped swirling, put the bay leaf in the centre and then grate over the nutmeg to form a thin even layer. Carefully (you don't want to disurb the nutmeg topping) transfer to a low position in the oven and bake for 2 - 3 hours, until the pudding reaches your preferred point on the scale from runny rice-belumpen soup to solid, sliceable mass. Irrespective of this, the pudding should never boil so that the skin lifts up - check periodically and turn the oven down if it is happening -it should be a smooth, speckled brown.

    Serve hot from the oven with golden syrup, in letters as described, or dollops of jam. Then go for a wind-blown walk to work it off.


    Lomagirl said...

    I like the hands off ness of this. Found you through Smitten Kitchen comments- just tried her rice pudding with Arborio which I'll probably sub when I make yours.

    Eleanor said...

    Yes - it's about as low effort as you can get. Let me know if you do try it!