There’s truly an endless wonder to rice and its possibilities. If you thought risotto to be one of the yummiest rice based meals, be warned, you’ll want to run right to your local store and back to your kitchen to give Torta di Riso a try.
Is it sweet? Savory? Does it use rice? Are there any limits to rice? Let’s tackle the latter first, and there’s not much to say about it, the short answer is no. Rice knows nothing about boundaries as it has proved to be highly versatile.
Cuisines all over the world have long and well experimented with rice making it one of the top ten most used ingredients in the world. Don’t take it from this article, just type “rice recipes” on Google and you’ll see the endless options you’ll find. And not just the ones you’re most probably familiar with.
Rice and Italian delicacies
Of course, such an important gastronomy as that of Italy is not the exception. Together with the fresh vegetables and the varied seafood given by the Mediterranean coast, rice plays a key role in it, because, in spite of not being originally Italian, the region is nowadays one of the largest producers of rice and they have adapted rice into many recipes. Not only savory, but sweet ones too. Among the most appetizing ones, you’ll find rice puddings, sfinci (rice balls) and rice cake. Torta di Riso in particular can be considered semi-sweet as it has a lemony flavor.
Are all types the same?
Well, depending on the recipe, using a long or a short grain may not be so different but if there are many types of rice, there must be a reason for using one or the other. In the case of this traditional Italian cake, cooking Arborio rice might be the preferred option as this kind of rice is high in starchiness and makes the cake much smoother. If you can’t find any Arborio rice, you can replace it with Carnaroli which is similar in starch content.
Italian rice cake
This gluten-free cake is the perfect choice for a finger dessert. Easily made and easily stored, this light cake is typically eaten during Easter season, but it’s a perfectly good option for a summer afternoon by the pool and a jar of fresh lemonade by the side.
As you can imagine, Italy is greatly varied in regions and each of them have their own version of this classic pie, but here’s a pretty traditional version of Torta di Riso.
- 4 cups of milk.
- 1½ cups of Arborio rice.
- 1 tbsp of vanilla extract.
- ½ cup of cane sugar.
- ½ cups of raisins.
- 1 tbsp of lemon zest.
- 4 eggs.
- A pinch of salt.
- Icing sugar.
- Start by preheating your oven at a medium heat. Prepare the mold by buttering and flouring it up.
- You’re going to start by cooking the rice. Take a saucepan and add 1½ cups of rice, four cups of milk and a tablespoon of vanilla extract. Zest half a lemon and add that to the saucepan. Season with a pinch of salt.
- Mix well and take it to a simmer. Cook for half an hour until rice is fully cooked.
- Once it’s done, set aside in a bowl so that it cools off.
- In the meantime, prepare the raisins by soaking them in the liqueur of your liking.
- Preheat your oven at medium heat. Prepare the medium-size mold by buttering and dusting it with breadcrumbs.
- In a small bowl, beat four eggs until foamy and add them to the rice mix.
- Add the raisins and the liqueur and give everything a good mix.
- Place the mix in the mold and add breadcrumbs on top to cover it. Take it to the oven and bake it for some 45 minutes.
- After that time passes, insert a fork or a stick and check if it’s fully cooked. Time might depend on the oven. You’ll know it’s done when the stick comes out clean and dry.
- Turn the oven off and let it rest inside for a while.
- Once you take it out, cover with icing sugar. Let it cool off, serve and enjoy!
You’re most welcome to give rice-based desserts a try, with this traditional Italian rice cake, you’re off to a great start already!