Traditional Rice Pudding {gluten-free, with Vegan option}

Traditional Rice Pudding

Lately I’ve become more and more interested in the history of my favourite foods; where they originated, how long they’ve been around, etc.  My mother often used to make a delicious baked rice pudding when I was young, so I’ve wanted to find out more about  the origins of this dessert.  It appears that it originated in the Middle East, and quite a long time ago; rice itself was discovered around 17,000BC, and dates and honey around 5,000BC, so it seems likely that it wouldn’t have been long after people started sweetening their foods that rice pudding would evolve.  In England, rice wasn’t used until much later, as rice only arrived in Europe via Arab-occupied Spain.  Rice pudding recipes in Europe originally contained things like almonds, various spices, dried fruit, depending on the location and what was available at the time.  There’s an interesting recipe for rice pudding in a book written by Gervase Markham in 1615, The English Huswife:

“Take half a pound of Rice, and steep it in new milk a whole night, and in the morning drain it, and let the milk drop away, and take a quart of the best sweetest, and thickest Cream, and put the Rice into it and boyl it a little; then set it to cool an hour or two, and after put in the Yelks of half a dozen Eggs, a little Pepper, Cloves, Mace, Currants, Dates, Sugar and Salt; and having mixt them well together, put in great store of Beef suet well beaten, and small shred, and so put it into the frames, and boyl them as before shewed, and serve them after a day old.”

This seems like it would make enough rice pudding for a party!  I made a pared down, simplified version today that should be a bit easier to make (and only four servings).

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of rice (medium grain rice would give a nice texture, however I used basmati and it was fine)
4 cups of milk (almond, coconut or dairy milk)
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon (and any other spices you wish)

Pour rice into a sieve and rinse well, then add to a large pot with the 4 cups of milk, pinch of salt, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of the honey.  The milk will bubble up when it boils, so you’ll want to make sure your pot is large enough to accommodate this. If you would like to add any dried fruit, such as currants or dates, this is the time to add them.  Bring to a boil slowly over medium heat, then once it has boiled, turn the heat down to low and cover.  Let simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and let simmer for another 10 minutes uncovered.

Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl with the remaining two tablespoons of honey and the vanilla.

When the rice has simmered for the remaining 10 minutes, take a ladleful of the hot rice mixture and slowly pour a bit at a time into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.  When fully incorporated, pour this back into the hot rice pot, stirring continuously until well blended.  Turn the heat up to medium, and cook the rice/egg mixture until thickened, about 2-5 minutes.  Be sure to stir continuously so that the pudding doesn’t get scorched on the bottom.

This can be served warm from the pan, or chilled.  Toasted slivered almonds and a sprinkling of cinnamon would make a tasty garnish.

To make this vegan, use organic cane sugar or maple syrup in place of the honey and omit the eggs.  Cook the pudding for approximately 10 minutes longer at the low temperature to create the thicker consistency that the eggs give.  Almond milk is also a traditional ingredient and will give this pudding a wonderful, authentic flavour (many of the really old recipes I came across for rice pudding also included almonds).

*If made with coconut or dairy milk, and omitting the cinnamon, this is very low oxalate per serving (approximately 3.5mg for the whole batch).

Printable version:

Traditional Rice Pudding (with Vegan option)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of rice
  • 4 cups of milk almond, coconut or dairy milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla or cook with a whole vanilla bean, split down the middle
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon and any other spices you wish
  • *for vegan version omit eggs and replace honey with organic cane sugar

Instructions

  1. Pour rice into a sieve and rinse well, then add to a large pot with the 4 cups of milk, pinch of salt, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of the honey. The milk will bubble up when it boils, so you'll want to make sure your pot is large enough to accommodate this. Add dried fruit if desired.
  2. Bring to a boil slowly over medium heat, then once it has boiled, turn the heat down to low and cover. Let simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and let simmer for another 10 minutes uncovered.
  3. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl with the remaining two tablespoons of honey and the vanilla.
  4. When the rice has simmered for the remaining 10 minutes, take a ladleful of the hot rice mixture and slowly pour a bit at a time into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.
  5. When fully incorporated, pour this back into the hot rice pot, stirring continuously until well blended. Turn the heat up to medium, and cook the rice/egg mixture until thickened, about 2-5 minutes. Be sure to stir continuously so that the pudding doesn't get scorched on the bottom.
  6. This can be served warm from the pan, or chilled. Toasted slivered almonds and a sprinkling of cinnamon would make a tasty garnish.
  7. *To make this vegan, use organic cane sugar or maple syrup in place of the honey and omit the eggs. Cook the pudding for approximately 10 minutes longer at the low temperature to create the thicker consistency that the eggs give. Almond milk is also a traditional ingredient and will give this pudding a wonderful, authentic flavour (many of the really old recipes I came across for rice pudding also included almonds).
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