Orange Rice Cake

Imagine rice pudding in cake form. Rather, a very creamy risotto you can slice. Really, there is no other way to describe this rice cake. And by ‘rice cake’ I don’t certainly mean the cardboard-cum-polystyrene small ones people on a diet seem to be swallowing all the time. This is a cake, except instead of flower and butter, the main body is provided by a creamy risotto with the addition of eggs. Rice cake is a traditional dessert in the North of Italy. In fact, it originated in Emilia Romagna, the region I come from. The cake was originally created for the so-called ‘Decorations’ Day’ (Festa degli addobbi), during which the whole town celebrated the 10th anniversary of their parish by decorating their windows with colourful drapes. As with every traditional dessert, there are many variations. This version is from Gennaro Contaldo.

Let me explain a few things. First of all, I know the amount of milk indicated might look like a lot but, believe me, it will boil down and get absorbed by the rice. Also, the final consistency of the rice should be extremely creamy and not stiff or dry. Then, this cake has been flavoured with orange zest, juice and extract. Go for liqueur too if you want to (in fact, the original recipe asked for it). Much in the same way, feel free to leave out the sultanas if you don’t like them. Last piece of advice: use a 25cm springform cake tin. I foolishly started to use a 23cm one, but as the amount of mixture is quite abundant, I wisely transferred everything to a bigger tin. Wise choice. The cake will rise and fall back on itself as it cools down. This is perfectly normal and is due to the presence of egg whites.

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Ingredients

  • 1.7 litres whole milk
  • 300g arborio (risotto) rice
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 orange, zest and juice (roughly 100ml)
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 40g sultanas

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line the bottom of a 25cm springform cake tin with baking parchment, then grease the sides. Set aside.
  2. Place the milk, vanilla extract, sugar and orange zest in a big saucepan, then bring to the boil. Add the rice and simmer over a medium heat for about 25-30 minutes. Remember you are looking for a creamy consistency. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the orange juice. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff.
  4. Add the yolk and juice mixture to the cooled rice. Slowly fold in the egg whites, the sultanas and the orange extract.
  5. Pour into the greased and lined tin, then bake for 50-60 minutes. You might have to cover the cake with foil midway through baking if the top starts browning too quickly.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar (optional) and enjoy.

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