Creamy rice pudding – childhood revisited

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Rice pudding is one of those comforting, nostalgic desserts that remind us of our mothers and home, particularly if our family is connected somewhere in the past to the United Kingdom. It’s perfectly suited to autumn, and the more hearty food of this season. I love it on its own, with just the subtle flavouring of vanilla, but it also shines with berries, or jewel-like pomegranate seeds, or sweetly poached apricots. It is not at all difficult to make, but it does require some time and devoted attention to make sure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan, or burn. I like to make it on a Saturday or Sunday morning when I am not in a hurry and the rest of the household is still sleeping, and then serve it gently warmed for dessert that night. No matter how much I make it always disappears, if not for dessert, sometime between dinner and the morning!

Serves 4

150 g arborio rice
1 L full cream milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
50 g caster sugar

Place the rice, milk and vanilla in a large saucepan and bring gently to the boil. Simmer for 30 – 40 minutes until the milk is absorbed and the rice soft and squidgy. Stir every couple of minutes to make sure no rice sticks to the bottom of the pan. When the rice is done, then and only then, add the sugar and stir through. Remove the vanilla bean just before serving. Serve warm, with poached fruit or fresh pomegranate seeds and enjoy the appreciative silence that descends at the table as the pudding is eaten.

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