Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tuscan Dreams

By Patricia Winton

Recipe from a Tuscan Dream
On my last visit to Florence, I sampled a sweet treat that I first encountered many years ago and hadn’t thought about in a long, long time: Budino di Riso. Available in pastry shops throughout Tuscany, this little treat is traditionally oval-shaped with a soft pastry filled with a creamy rice pudding baked in the oven. When I first encountered them in Livorno, they were called Torta di Riso.

I scoured high and low in Florence looking for a pan to bake them in and came up empty. When I returned to Rome, I surfed the ‘net looking for a recipe. I discovered in the search that, like many other Italian dishes, regional variations abound. I found rice pudding similar to the one I grew up eating in America and cakes with rice as a predominate ingredient—often filled with candied fruit. After lots of searching, I finally found a recipe that mirrors the Budino di Riso I ate in Florence.

The recipe is a bit labor-intensive, but if you make the crust the day before and store it in the fridge, it doesn’t seem like an impossible task. This recipe suggest baking the sweet in a mini muffin pan.

Budino di Riso

For the crust (called pasta frolla):
Pastry Shop Budino di Riso

2 cups flour
2/3 cup rice flour
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

This can be made in the food processor. Place all the dry ingredients in the processor bowl and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into little cubes and add to the dry mixture.

Pulse until the butter is incorporated and the mixture resembles crumbs. Add the egg and pulse again briefly to incorporate.

Remove to a board and knead briefly until the dough is smooth. Form into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.

For the filling:

3 cups milk
1 1/2 cup uncooked rice
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs, separated

Homemade Budino di Riso
Place the milk in a saucepan and add the lemon zest and vanilla. Scald the milk and add the rice, stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking and stirring until the rice has absorbed most of the milk. Add 1/3 cup of the sugar. Set aside to cool.

When the mixture has cooled, stir in the egg yolks, baking powder, and the other 1/3 cup of the sugar. Set aside while you prepare the pastry.

Roll out the dough and cut into circles that will fit the bottom and sides of the small cups of a mini muffin pan.

Beat the egg whites and fold into the rice mixture. Fill each muffin cup with the rice mixture, leaving room for the pudding to rise.

Place the muffin tin in a 325 F (170 C) oven and bake for 30 minutes. Test by inserting a toothpick into the center of one budino. It it is liquidy, cook a bit longer. Remove to wire rack and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before unmolding.

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Anna Lowenstein said...

Sounds great. I'd love to try one of these. Can't imagine I'd actually go to the trouble of making it, though.

Polly Iyer said...

Does sound delicious. I love any kind of pudding, but I'm with Anna. When it comes to baked good, I'd rather buy. Never have been much of a baker.

Anonymous said...

Sounds wonderful, but something I would only tackle for a special occasion.