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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Everyday Custard Rice Pudding


This is a Rice Pudding kind of day.  Every time I look out the window I think it's going to rain any minute but it hasn't.  I was out for a little while this afternoon and sure enough I thought it was going to rain and so did everyone I met.  A little mist every now and again is the worst we've had in precipitation but I think it might rain any minute, now.  Rice Pudding is good on a day like today.  It's such a comfort food.

This is the brightest the sky has been all day.
I think it might rain any minute, now.
Rice Pudding was a staple dessert when I was growing up.  Not that we had it every week but we had it at least once a month, sometimes more.  Mom's pudding wasn't a creamy stirred pudding.  It was baked in the oven in a custard mixture which when baked produced a bottom layer of rice and a velvety smooth topping of baked custard. I loved that custard top and would eat it after I ate the rice, saving what I thought was the best for the last.  

Rice Pudding wasn't an afterthought of left over rice from an earlier meal but a dessert in its own standing.  I was quite blown away, as a young child, when I realized people ate rice with their dinner as we never ate rice except in Rice Pudding.  

Mom always used the 5-minute rice in her puddings.  I don't think we ever had regular long grain rice in the house and it wasn't until I was an adult I was introduced to "real" rice (but that's another story).   The pudding always had plump sweet raisins nestled in the rice which gave the pudding a boost of natural sweetness.  Mom would use evaporated milk instead of fresh, which made a heavenly smooth and thick custard.  Then she topped everything with a sprinkle of nutmeg and popped it in the oven.  It would be served warm after dinner but it was just as good served cold at suppertime.  

Today, sadly, I usually only make Rice Pudding if I have a little rice left over from a meal.  And that's what happened today.  I was rooting around in the fridge and came upon a small bowl of plain rice--a little more than half a cup.  It wasn't enough for a meal and I was debating in my mind what to do with it when I thought of Rice Pudding.  That was a brilliant thought!  To be sure it wasn't the 5-minute rice Mom would have used but it was rice.  To have a lovely creamy rice pudding, the experts tell us, we need a special pudding rice of a short or medium grain.  I'm telling you now, that might be so if you're entertaining company and want to impress them with your culinary skills, but for everyday eating the left over rice, long, short, or instant does the trick.  

Rice Pudding may be one of the healthier desserts to serve your family.  It's not overly sweet, and with some of the sweetness coming from the raisins it's almost a health food.  You can increase the sugar if you like a sweeter dessert but I find the quarter cup of sugar sufficient with the raisins.  This recipe is easily doubled if you have a larger amount of rice or more people to feed.  

And wouldn't you know it, the sun is finally shining now that it's almost suppertime.  I don't think it's going to rain, after all.


Everyday Custard Rice Pudding
½ cup cooked rice (a little more won't hurt)
2-3 tablespoons raisins, or more or less to you're own liking
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup sugar, or more to taste
Pinch of salt
2 cups whole milk (or use undiluted evaporated milk if you're in a bold mood)
Nutmeg to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 6-cup baking dish. 

Prepare a water bath for baking the pudding.  Place a pan in the oven large enough to hold the dish you will be using to bake the pudding.  I used an old 9-inch square pan.  Fill the pan half way up the side with water and place in the oven while making the pudding. 

Place the rice in the greased dish.  Sprinkle with raisins. 

In a medium bowl beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt together.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer.  Remove from heat and pour the hot milk into the egg mixture stirring constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs.  Pour the combined milk and egg mixture over the rice and raisins in the baking dish.  Lightly sprinkle the top with nutmeg and place the dish in the oven in the pan of water.  Bake 50-60 minutes or until the custard is set.  It will still be wobbly but baked.   Let set at least 15 minutes before serving or let cool completely.  Refrigerate any left overs. 

Makes 4-6 servings.


Place the rice and raisins in a greased baking dish.  Left over rice works well in this pudding.


 Beat the eggs and vanilla.

 Add the sugar and salt.


 Heat the milk to a simmer.  Heating the milk gives a jump-start to the baking process.


Pour the hot milk into the egg and sugar mixture, stirring constantly so the eggs won't curdle.


 Pour the milk and egg mixture over the rice and raisins.


Sprinkle the top of the pudding with nutmeg and place it in the oven.  Place the dish in a pan of water.  This is a water bath or bain marie.  The hot water bath is used when gentle, slow baking is required.  This will ensure the custard  will not curdle while baking. If over baked the custard will become tough and pocked with holes.


The Rice Pudding is completely baked and set although it is still a little wobbly in the middle.  It took the full 60 minutes to bake in my oven.  When baked the rice and raisins settle on the bottom and the velvety smooth custard bakes on the top.


Now, that's pure comfort!

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