The rice pie is a typical dessert of the villages above my city, Carrara, in northern Tuscany. There is a great struggle between the inhabitants to get the paternity of the rice pie recipe. Each family has its own recipe. Some say that it comes from the village of Codena, while someone supports that is originally from Bedizzano. Some others speculate that it originated in Torano, where even women would sprinkle parmesan cheese on the surface of the cake. Obviously, everyone thinks that their recipe is better than the others. A neverending battle that will last forever. There will not be a winner but we can console ourselves with many delicious rice cakes.
In Marina di Carrara it is common to prepare this cake on March 19, on the occasion of the patron saint’s feast day, St. Joseph. When I was a child, I remember seeing all the women in my family making countless huge cake pans with rice pie.
My mother told me that when she was little, her mother’s cake pans were so big that they could not fit in the oven. They needed to go to the bakeries and use their bigger ovens. They placed the pans along with the bread, and so it was for many other families.
For this recipe, I used anise liqueur. But many recipes include a secret mix of liqueurs in varying amounts. They may include brandy, cognac, liquor mint (or peppermint), Alchermes, Sambuca, Sassolino, or Maraschino.
Personally, I prefer the typical recipe of Avenza, a suburb of Carrara. And I prefer the rice pie baked in a wooden oven. But, of course, it’s not easy for anyone to do it with the old style.
The recipe to make the Rice Custard Pie
I invite you to try this easy-to-make rice pie recipe. Once you made it, please tell me what mix of liquor you’ve used! I am curious to know!
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.