The rice pie is a typical dessert of the villages upstream of my city, Carrara, in northern Tuscany. There is a great struggle between the inhabitants to get the paternity of the rice pie recipe, and each family has its own recipe.
Some say that it comes from the village of Codena, someone supports that is originally from Bedizzano, some others assume that was born in Torano, where women also spread the parmesan cheese on the surface of the cake. In Marina di Carrara it is typical to prepare this dessert for March 19, in occasion of the patron saint’s feast, St. Joseph.
When I was little, I remember seeing all the women in my family preparing countless and huge cake tins with the rice cake. My mother told me that when she was little, the cake tins of her mother, were so large that they were unable to get into the ovens. They needed to bake them in the ovens of the bakeries, along with the bread, and so it was for many other families.
For this recipe I used the anise liqueur, but many recipes include a secret mix of liqueurs in varying amounts, which may include brandy, cognac, liquor mint (or a peppermint), Alchermes, Sambuca, Sassolino or Maraschino.
Personally I prefer the typical recipe of Avenza, a hamlet of Carrara, and I prefer the rice pie baked in a wood oven. But, of course, it’s not easy for anyone doing it with the old style.
I invite you to try this “easy to make” rice pie recipe, I’m curious to know what mix of liquor you’ve used!
Rice Cake recipe
- 1 US quart milk
- 9 yolks
- 6 eggs
- 12 oz white caster sugar
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 grated lemon rind
- 1 shot anise liqueur
- 3 tbsp white caster sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
To grease the cake tin
- Boil the rice in salted water, drain "al dente" (8-9 minutes). Wash it under cold water to stop the cooking and let it cool down on a dish towel.
- Butter a cake tin of 26 cm/10 inch (better if it is made in aluminium).
- Prepare a light caramel with the sugar and a teaspoon of lemon juice and pour it into the cake tin. Turn the tin to evenly distribute the caramel on the bottom. The caramel must be high about 1 cm/0.3 inches on the inside edge.
- Boil the milk with the grated lemon rind in a small pot.
- In the meanwhile pour the eggs and the yolks in a bowl with sugar. Work briefly with the hand whip, just enough to mix well (without mounting). Continuing to mix, pour flush the liquor and the warm milk.
- Distribute the rice on the bottom of the caramelized cake tin, forming a smooth layer. Slowly pour the mixture of eggs, sugar, milk and liquor. Be careful not to mix the two layers (the cream should float over the rice layer).
- Pass the pie in the oven, pre-heated to 170 C°/338 F°, for about 50 minutes, until light brown stains appear on the surface.
- Once out of the oven, let the pie completely cool down and keep in the refrigerator for a few hours before to serve.
- Cut the rice pie into squares.