Make Ahead

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

July 23, 2015
4.6 Stars
Photo by Emiko
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
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.

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71 Reviews

Orlando May 23, 2021
This turns out less a custard and more a quiche: a sweet quiche with rice at the bottom. I can't help but think the texture would be much improved with a version of custard without egg whites.
Jeanne May 26, 2020
Amazing! Made with brandy and lemon. This was a crowd favorite and will be made regularly.
Erica B. April 11, 2020
What the recipe for the custard?
Author Comment
Emiko April 11, 2020
It's the part of the recipe in step 3, eggs, sugar, milk etc :)
Erica B. April 11, 2020
Great! Thank you, I can’t wait to make it.
Naomi November 2, 2019
So you drain the rice when it’s al dente, like pasta? About to make this for my hubbie’s birthday...want to get it right! Thank you!
Author Comment
Emiko November 2, 2019
Yes that's right! Good luck!
Sabrina July 23, 2019
Well I just attempted making this. It is in the oven now. I’m praying it turns out edible because going in it looked like milky egg soup. Fingers crossed 🤞🏻🤞🏻
Barbara D. April 21, 2019
Made this exactly as the recipe dictated and it was creamy perfection. Guests all raved. The pie became an instant Easter tradition. Thank you!
Roland H. March 17, 2019
Made this tonight, but it tasted a bit eggy, as opposed to custard. I cooked it probably longer than I should have (about 10 minutes) to get the brown finish and then put it under the broiler for a minute or so. Could that explain the eggy flavor?
Patty March 9, 2019
Wow is this good. Kind of like an elegant rice pudding, only better. I used orange zest and brandy. Can’t think of anything to make this more delicious. Will be a great addition to my Easter Brunch this year.
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:
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. :(
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.
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.
This recipe is a keeper!
Tracy P. June 28, 2016
Sorry about typos: "...if this...baked goods..."