I have come across a few, shall we say, interesting national days to celebrate, but National Rice Pudding Day on 9 August is a new one to me. However, why not?
Is rice pudding a love it/hate it thing? I asked a few friends what they thought and it really divided opinion. One guy in his 80s had such fond memories of having it as a child, whereas another friend really hated it. My partner, who grew up in the States, does not like it either. I love it! Although I must admit that I have not enjoyed it for a while.
When I was a child, my mum would make it for the family. She never seemed to measure the quantities: pudding rice, milk, sugar were casually tossed into a deep casserole dish and then cooked slowly in the oven. A dark skin would form over the top, which my dad claimed was the best bit. Cheap, filling and nutritious, it was a great way to fill hungry mouths.
Today you can buy it in tins and tetra packs ready-made; great when you want something convenient. Simply warm up and enjoy or munch it cold. However, making it from scratch really is easy.
Make your own
What sort of rice? Any rice can be used depending on the texture you want. Generally, rice pudding is made with white rice resulting in a softer texture. Specific pudding rice is available too and I would recommend this because it cooks relatively quickly, and has a subtle flavour. Brown rice will be chewier, wild rice or red rice even more so.
When making a dairy-free version any plant-based milk will work, however soya or oat milk will create a nicely creamy result. Adding a splash of soya cream will add extra richness.
To sweeten the pudding, sugar is required and this can be basic caster or granulated sugar. You can even go for maple or golden syrup. Remember, if making a vegan version honey should not be used.
Adding a little nutmeg or cinnamon will give a perfect lift to the pudding (depending on your palate). Cardamon, mace and vanilla are all good, too.
Other ingredients such as dried fruit can be added to enrich the flavour and nutritional content. Be warned: some purists may prefer the fruit to be served as an optional extra so if you are making it for others take care.
Traditionally cooked in the oven, it is a handy thing to pop in when you have already got the dinner in there for a delicious dessert. It is, however, quicker to make on the hob in a thick-based saucepan (the downside is that you won’t get a traditional skin on the top).
For the more adventurous, try our recipe for Brown Rice Pudding with Apricots.
Alternatively, enjoy this delicious dish on its own or with your own favorite flavours.
Simple Rice Pudding
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
To make a hob-based rice pudding simply place all the ingredients in a heavy pan, bring to the boil then reduce to the lowest heat and cover. Stir the rice from time to time to prevent it from sticking on the base. After 30 minutes remove the lid and simmer for 5 minutes stirring more frequently. This should result in a creamy rice pudding. Serve hot or chilled.
Topping your rice pudding
Rice pudding can be enhanced with a side of stewed fruit. However, with a little imagination almost anything can be added, such as flaked almonds, chopped pistachios, sliced strawberries, lemon curd, blueberries, jam...
If you are looking for a trip down memory lane, perhaps rice pudding could go back on your menu.