Italian Rice Pie

By • March 19, 2010 • 18 Comments



Author Notes: This Italian rice pie (torta di riso) has been an Easter staple in my family for generations. Though it traditionally graces the dessert table on Easter Sunday, the best time to eat it is Monday morning. After being refrigerated overnight, it is pleasantly chilled and tastes like a cross between rich ricotta pie and silky lemon panna cotta, an Italian cooked cream.

The best rice pies are made from starchy rice such as Arborio, an Italian rice used for risotto. Arborio's thick, chewy texture creates a firm, dense layer of cooked rice that contrasts beautifully with the creamy, soft custard on top. Whatever you do, don't use Uncle Ben's or instant rice, or you'll wind up with watery pie. You can cook the rice in either water or whole milk. Milk makes it slightly thicker and creamier. Please note that this recipe requires beginning at least a few hours in advance.
Food Blogga

Food52 Review: A true "nonna's" dessert, Food Blogga's pie epitomizes all that is good and comforting about Italian sweets. The lightly sweetened rice custard, enriched with ricotta and egg yolks, stays creamy while the crust cradling it becomes tender and cake-like underneath (it also crisps perfectly around the edges, giving you the best of both worlds). We used a 9-inch pan and baked the extra filling on its own -- make sure to cut down on the cooking time if you do the same. - A&MA&M

Serves 8-10

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter (chilled)
  • 1 extra large egg or 2 small eggs
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water, or as much as needed
  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the dough becomes pebbly in texture. Add the eggs and pulse repeatedly until the dough begins to stick together. Slowly add the ice water by the tablespoonful, while using a few long pulses. Add more drops of ice water as necessary, until the dough holds together well. Invert the dough onto a floured work surface. Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing the filling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.)
  2. If you don't have a processor, then combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add chunks of chilled butter, and using a pastry blender or two forks, chop the butter until it resembles little pebbles. At this point, add the eggs and ice water, and stir with a spoon until the dough begins to form. Using your hands and working the dough as little as possible, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough holds together. Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate while preparing the filling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.)

Rice Filling

  • 1/2 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 4 cups of water OR whole milk
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract (or the zest and juice of 1 small lemon, preferably Meyer)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese, drained (minimum of 2 hours or preferably overnight)
  1. Place the rice and water OR whole milk in medium heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook the rice, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is sticky. The rice should still be firm as it will finish cooking in the oven. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl. Using a hand-mixer, beat until well combined. Add the lemon extract (or zest and juice) and vanilla, and beat on low for about 10 seconds. Add the drained ricotta, and beat on low for a few seconds until just combined. Stir in the cooked rice. Mix with a rubber spatula until well combined, making sure there are no clumps of rice. Place in the refrigerator.
  3. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Coat a 10 1/2-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into an 11 1/2-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the prepared pie plate, gently pressing it into the bottom and sides. No fluted crust is necessary. At this point, set the crust in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes to get it really chilled, which will make for a flakier crust.
  4. Remove the chilled crust from the freezer and pour the filling to about 1/4 of an inch below the top of the crust, as it will puff up slightly when baking. Bake for 1 hour or until the filling puffs up, turns golden, and is "set," meaning it should be firm, not jiggly when you gently move the pie plate. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
  5. Note: If you have some extra filling left over, you can pour it into a small baking dish or ramekins for a crustless version, and follow the same baking instructions. Leftover rice pie can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Tags: Easter, Italian, Italian

Comments (18) Questions (1)

Default-small
Default-small
Default-small

over 1 year ago Lorenza

Do you suppose that MyGardenersTable (below) used the wrong variety of rice? I plan to prepare the recipe as written, with arborio and Whole Milk. Grazie, Mille Grazie

Default-small

about 2 years ago Pizzapie

The flavor was good, but really dense.. I don't if it was over cooked what. I cooked 1 hour and it was golden brown on top unlike the picture. We ended up putting raspberrys and heavy whipping cream on top..

46a45ad9-247f-48c1-a5a5-1975acc94a0b-12

about 3 years ago MyGardenersTable

I just made this cake in a 10-inch pan. It is still warm but I can already tell from sampling the extra filling, which I put in a ramequin, that it tastes very good. However I had a problem with the amount of liquid to cook the rice. 4 cups for 1/2 cup arborio rice seemed very high (usually I use 1 cup arborio to 3 cups liquid), I could not imagine the rice would absorb all of it, as the recipe says, but I went along with it. After 20 minutes the rice was cooked but I had two cups of water left over. I drained it, and it was fine. If I make it again I will cook the rice in 2 cups water.

Default-small

over 3 years ago Ilalia

I just walked in on my husband eating another slice of this pie....I can't stop smiling! Let me explain. My husband loves custard anything, but I have always avoided trying to make it for him feeling I could never come close to satisfying his experienced custard pallet. Over come with a longing for a new Easter tradition to ease the shock of adjusting to being just the two of us again as empty nesters and missing our parents who have passed away, I bought all the ingredients for this recipe and planned to made it in secret ( for fear I would fail at it and make us more lonesome for family). My husband just asked me if I would make this for him every week. The directions were easy to follow and the ingredients were easy to find. I will be making this on saturday for sunday morings.

Hilary_sp1

about 4 years ago Hilarybee

Just joined and this is one of my first saved recipes! I'm of Italian descent myself, and my great grandmother used to make a rice custard, though not a pie. I hope this taste just as good =) I'm making it for a picnic tomorrow.

Default-small

over 4 years ago Koshamrock

This does sound like a tasty recipe, but I wonder if there is a weight-watching version? I plan to try some substitutes to see if I can still make a tasty dish.

200019672-001

over 4 years ago pTsaldari

I am prepared to break with tradition for our Greek Easter and feature this at our Easter table. It looks, sounds and reads like a winner. Just voted for it as well.
Susan we luv ya pie!
Penelopi
http://ptsaldari.posterous...

Susan_headshot

over 4 years ago Food Blogga

Wow! I'm honored. Greek Easter customs are as cherished as Italian ones. Thanks a bunch, Penelopi!

Dsc_0019_2

over 4 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

This is a fab recipe, I can't wait to try it!

Susan_headshot

over 4 years ago Food Blogga

Thanks, Kelsey! Hope you enjoy it.

Food52_photo

over 4 years ago ENunn

This sounds super-lovely, and I would like it for breakfast tomorrow, too.

Susan_headshot

over 4 years ago Food Blogga

It's making waking up early worth it!

Winnie100

over 4 years ago WinnieAb

This sounds fantastic!

Susan_headshot

over 4 years ago Food Blogga

Thanks so much!

Default-small

over 4 years ago hyphenhermann

could i use a 9.5" deep dish for this recipe, or do you recommend a 10.5" tart pan? i can't seem to find a 10.5" pie dish. thanks!

Susan_headshot

over 4 years ago Food Blogga

hyphenhermann-I would recommend the 10.5 inch tart dish. Thanks!

Susan_headshot

over 4 years ago Food Blogga

Me too! :)

Ry_400

over 4 years ago melissav

Yum. I want some leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.