Tuscan Rice and Custard Torta (Torta di Riso alla Carrarina)

By Emiko
July 23, 2015
60 Comments


Author Notes: The defining feature of this dessert is that it has two layers. The top layer is a delicate, just-set custard, a little like a crème caramel (minus the caramel poured over the top), while the bottom is a firmer layer of soft rice, bound with custard. Each bite is reminiscent of rice pudding and crème caramel all at once.

Note: This mixture is extremely runny. Do not use a springform or loose-bottomed cake tin: You will end up with the raw mixture dripping (or running!) all over your oven. The recipe is adapted from Paolo Petroni's "Il Grande Libro della Cucina Toscana."
Emiko

Serves: 6 to 8 people

Ingredients

  • butter, for greasing pan
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) of sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) of short-grain risotto rice (such as Arborio or carnaroli)
  • 2 pinches of salt, dived
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliters) of liqueur such as rum, brandy, or sambuca
  • Zest of 1 lemon or orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or the seeds of half a vanilla bean)
  • 2 cups (500 milliters) whole milk, warmed slightly

Directions

  1. Prepare a 9- or 10-inch (23- or 25-cenimeter) solid-bottomed round cake pan or pie dish by greasing well with butter and sprinkling with sugar to cover (if not making a gluten-free dessert, you can sprinkle with a dusting of flour instead of sugar).
  2. Cook the rice with a pinch of salt in boiling water, as you would pasta. Remove after about 10 minutes—it should be al dente.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, rum, zest, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until combined. Add the warmed milk and the rice.
  4. Pour the custard into the prepared pan. The rice should settle evenly along the bottom. Bake at 350° F (180° C) for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown with some darker splotches and firm, not liquid, when gently touched (a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean).
  5. Remove and let cool in the pan. Serve cold or at room temperature and store any leftovers in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for 3 days at most.

More Great Recipes:
Egg|Grains|Make Ahead|Gluten-Free|Dessert

Reviews (60) Questions (0)

60 Comments

jenncc June 7, 2018
I have had this on my "To Make" list for some time and finally made it today. I had no problems with curdling/scrambling of the custard and thought the texture was wonderful, however I did find it too sweet. I will certainly make this again cutting the sugar by at least 1/4 cup. Mine needed the full 60 minutes in the oven but did not brown as nicely as the photo.
 
Jennifer S. March 31, 2018
I'm making this tonight; we'll see how it goes!
 
Diane March 30, 2018
If you wanted to cook the rice in milk how would you do it
 
Author Comment
Emiko March 30, 2018
The same as with water but with milk -- be aware that you'll want plenty of milk and keep a careful eye on it once it starts to come to a simmer as it can froth up and overflow! You can see the similar instructions in first step here: https://food52.com/recipes/27154-tuscan-rice-fritters-frittelle-di-riso
 
Diane March 30, 2018
Can i double this recipe and cook it in a casserole dish? What would the timing be?
 
Author Comment
Emiko March 30, 2018
I have never tried this though I imagine if the filling of the torta comes out about the same height it would be much the same.
 
PMD March 12, 2018
My Tuscan mother made a similar dish at holiday time but it was much denser. She'd fill an 11 x 13 glass pan with the mix (anise flavor, of course! then cut into diamond shapes for serving. Always browned nicely in her gas oven. I'm looking for the ingredient measures for this version.
 
Author Comment
Emiko March 13, 2018
I don't know if it's this one but I've been recently testing a recipe from Artusi's 1891 cookbook for "budino di riso" which is a rice cake more than a "pudding" -- very similar to this Carrara version, but as you say, denser. His has raisins and rum in it (aniseed would be very good too, very typical of Tuscan desserts!). You can find this recipe copied exactly out of Artusi's cookbook online, in Italian. It was a very popular cake in my Tuscan mother in law's household, they made it regularly.
 
Monica P. March 11, 2018
too liquidy...can't go into the cake type of pan ( detachable bottom) because it will come out , needs some extra rice, otherwise tastes great
 
Author Comment
Emiko March 11, 2018
Next time if you don't have an air tight cake tin, you can wrap the outside of it in several layers of aluminium foil. Works a treat! ;)
 
ejm April 26, 2017
Just made this , cut the sugar to a scant 1 cup, used Amaretto, just a small glug, and doubled the vanilla - tastes great! When it was cooked (about 55 min) the top was not browned so used the broiler for about 1 minute. The custard layer is a bit curdled looking - next time might use a water bath or lower heat for longer cooking time as it all went in ok - tempered the eggs etc. A lovely easy recipe. Thanks
 
Cindy M. April 25, 2017
Would love to know if anyone has tried this in the instant pot!
 
Deneb Z. April 25, 2017
Can the alcohol be omitted altogether as we don't take alcohol? What liquid to use in place of it?
 
Author Comment
Emiko April 27, 2017
You could simply replace it with milk, or leave it out all together. It's really just to add some aroma to the custard.
 
Pamela's K. April 21, 2018
I used Orange Blossom water as well as Rose water, and both were wonderful.
 
Laura K. April 25, 2017
My grandmother used to make this at Easter in a square dish. I am very happy to have this recipe now. It reminds me of her. Thanks!
 
erin July 3, 2016
Far too much liquid for my pie pan. :(<br />
 
culture_connoisseur October 23, 2016
Put the rest in ramekins to have a little taste with the extra.
 
Tracy P. June 28, 2016
I made this yesterday. It came out perfect! I used brandy and lemon zest and served it with with fresh strawberries and blueberries. I am going to make another one today as there is only one slice left; my family had it for dessert last night and breakfast this morning. I agree with the previous post, make sure the milk is warm, not hot, and add it slowly.<br />Mine also browned very nicely on top. I have a gas oven, an old Magic Chef, but gas nonetheless and I wonder it this makes a difference in how well backed goods will brown evenly? Just a thought.<br />This recipe is a keeper!
 
Tracy P. June 28, 2016
Sorry about typos: "...if this...baked goods..."
 
Janet June 25, 2016
For those having problems with the custard scrambling.<br />In step 3, where is says to "add warm milk", do so very slowly, tempering the raw eggs to keep them from cooking. Also make sure your milk is just warm, not hot. <br />This recipe looks so very yummy, can't wait to make it!
 
This is a fantastic recipe. I don't drink alcohol, so I substituted with orange blossom water. It smelled heavenly and I put the excess in a few souffle cups and had a little taste.
 
Brenda April 29, 2016
This looks great. I am looking for a creamy key lime pie recipe with this kind of crust. Can anyone help me. Thank you
 
mawhorts September 4, 2015
I made this for the first time tonight - I've been wanting to try this for weeks. I made a tart-sweet pluot sauce to go with it, and it was very good. <br />My oven is wonky so it cooked too slowly and the custard got a little scrambled as well. Or could it be something about the reaction of the eggs, milk, and rum? (The milk was only slightly warm, not hot.) Next time I'll try tempering in the milk as I do when I make creme brulee.
 
Tammy A. August 6, 2015
I made this for the first time today and it didn't go well :(<br />The top didn't brown and so I left it in for longer to cook and then the custard scrambled. I think next time I will use a kitchen blow torch and put it under the grill to brown it up instead
 
Tammy A. August 6, 2015
*or put it under the grill
 
Author Comment
Emiko August 7, 2015
Oh that doesn't sound right at all! But I'm not sure a blow torch or grill will help it if it has scrambled. It's hard to know from over here but the only thing I can think of is perhaps the components were already scrambled when it went in the oven? For example, the milk shouldn't be hot but warm (think body temperature, like when warming milk for a baby) as that can possibly scramble the raw eggs?
 
DJean August 2, 2015
Any thoughts on making this with a nut milk (like almond), instead of dairy?
 
Author Comment
Emiko August 6, 2015
Not sure about this myself but perhaps you could research making custard successfully with nut milk and do something similar here (because in the end this is a baked custard of sorts)?
 
Ron M. June 25, 2016
Did you try it yet?
 
Fatimah J. March 18, 2018
Perhaps I'd try it with coconut milk as the consistency is creamier.<br />
 
Michelle S. August 2, 2015
I would not try this in a 9in round pie pan. I tried and there way way too much liquid.
 
erin July 3, 2016
Me too. What a bummer! Messy mess on my end.
 
linda August 2, 2015
This was really good - made a test one for my mom to see how it turned out (great!) and will be bringing another one to a friend's house tomorrow! If you love custard, you'll love the top of this torta.