Monday, 1 October 2012

So you think you don't like rice pudding?

Now, I know there are lots of people who don’t like milk puddings, but bear with me here if you’re one of them.

Most food cultures across the world boast a milk pudding or 2 – rice pudding is the most widely found, but semolina, sago, tapioca  all feature in various guises. For me a good milk pudding is one of the most comforting things in the world, especially as the weather turns and it starts to get wetter and darker. School dinners didn’t put me off – not even the particularly lumpy version of semolina pudding that my junior school served up. In my mind, it was only improved with either jam to stir in or brown sugar to sprinkle on the top (as I remember). As if that wasn’t controversial enough, yes, I LOVE skin. The skin that forms on top of a rice pudding (ditto custard). Nothing better.

To me, milk puddings soothe and comfort. They are reasonably economical and you can dress them up in many ways. They are brilliant with stewed fruit.

If you are still scarred by the trauma of school dinners, of rice pudding thick enough to paper walls with, 'soggy semolina (with or without sugar/jam), or frogspawn like tapioca, and if you have never enjoyed the soothing restorative effects of a homemade milk pudding, I urge you to try again (well, may be not the tapioca).

Now I may have failed dismally in my attempts to get my son to embrace another of my favourite comfort food, cauliflower cheese, but where milk puddings are concerned, I win. During a brief flirtation with an Annabel Karmel book when I started weaning Blue, I came across a recipe involving ground rice which has evolved and still makes a regular appearance on our teatime menu when I am in the mood to receive unadulterated mummy points from my kids. I cannot tell you how much they love this.

Pear Pudding – serves 2

Ingredients: 1 ripe pear, quartered, cored and roughly diced, divided between 2 ramekins, 25g ground rice, 280 ml semi-skimmed milk, 1tsp caster sugar, sprinkling of cinammon

Method: Put the ground rice, sugar and cinnamon in a pan, and carefully stir in the cold milk to make a smooth paste, then put the pan on a gentle heat and bring slowly to a simmer stirring pretty much continually till the mixture thickens. Allow it to cook for a couple of minutes, then pour onto the pears and allow to cool a little (or a lot) before serving.

Baked rice pudding with plums – serves 4

Ingredients: 8 plums, stoned and halved, 25g soft brown sugar, grated zest & juice of an orange, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 2 cloves, 65g pudding rice, 650ml milk, 25g caster sugar, ½ tsp vanilla extract
Method: Pre-heat the oven to 1500C. Place the plums cut side down in a dish, sprinkle over the sugar and orange zest, add the cinnamon stick, star anise and cloves, and pour over the orange juice. 

In another dish, stir together the rice, milk, sugar and vanilla. Make sure all the grains of rice are stirred in.

Pop both the dishes in the oven. After about  45 mins-1hr, the plums will be soft and sitting in delicious juice, so take these out of the oven and leave the rice to bake for another 45 min-1 hr, until the milk has been absorbed, and the rice is cooked through and deliciously creamy.


  1. Oh I love a rice pudding! This baked one with plums looks really good. I think it's the school dinners connotation that puts most people off..

    1. I know - it's such a shame because it's so good. I don't know why the school version didn't put me off. may be it was because my mum's which she made in a proper old double boiler pan was so delicious (and probably had top of the milk in it)

  2. I love rice pudding, so this looks awesome to me.

    1. you see i thought I'd get a whole load of comments from people who said they hated rice pudding, but so far no one!

  3. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of rice puddings too. Being Asian, I can eat sago, semolina or tapioca puddings but prefer to eat rice in the form of savouries...

    After reading your post, I might embrace myself to try cooking my first rice pudding.

    Nice to know you through blogging... Your blog is fantastic and now I'm your latest follower :D


    1. Hi Zoe - thank you! Great to 'meet' you too. I am glad you like my blog. I hear what you say - it's interesting though because I do quite often see recipes by western chefs for 'Asian-inspired' rice pudding using cardomom, rose water etc - I wonder what you thin of those?

  4. I never had school dinners (allergies = packed lunches for me!) and so the only milk puddings I ever had were at home. I love rice pudding, (delicious skin too) and custard (again, the skin - my brother and I used to fight for that) and semolina. My mum made plain semolina and served it with a big blob of jam, or chocolate semolina which was deemed special enough on its own, without adornment. Yum, milk puddings.

  5. yum yum yum - yes we used to have chocolate semolina too - plain stuff with hot chocolate powder stirred in as I remember - I'd forgotten about that - I bet it would taste lovely with pears. Good to find another 'skin' fan!

  6. This looks delicious, I will try it out. Thanks for the recipe.


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