I’m very sensitive to the cold, as people who know me will attest, so all week I have been thinking of what comforting autumnal pudding I would cook this weekend to warm me up. I toyed with apple crumble. However, despite what I said last week, I plumped for rice pudding.
For the past 18 years, I have hated rice pudding with a passion; the very thought of it made me feel sick. However it wasn’t always like this – there was a time when the thought of my mum’s rice pudding was enough to make me very happy. But then I had it at school and it all changed. It was horrible and ever since then I have been unable to bring myself to eat it (apart from one occasion about a year ago, when I tried a ready-made one – not the best one to try and turn me).
Then, this week rice pudding came out of the test kitchen at work; I decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a go. I wasn’t expecting to like – but it was amazing. I kept sticking my spoon back in, wanting more. It was rich, creamy and comforting – just as it was when I ate my mum’s rice pudding all those years ago.
There are many food-related perks for working for a food magazine, but the best thing has been discovering that I now enjoy foods that I once hated. Beetroot is another example; all I had were the memories of the pickled stuff, but when a beetroot risotto came out (with broad beans – another thing I disliked), I devoured it and went back for seconds. B. couldn’t believe it when I told him. Raspberries too; while I still don’t like them by themselves, I will happily work my way through any dessert that includes them – also to B.’s delight.
So, after this latest taste revelation, I had to make my own rice pudding – I also thought it fair to end B.’s rice pudding drought. And after being inspired by the latest episode of River Cottage Every Day where Hugh made apple compote, I decided to make my own to accompany the pudding. My favourite desserts are apple-based, so I thought it only fitting to combine a new sweet love with an old one.
Since I had never cooked rice pudding before, I consulted a few recipes, including one of Hugh’s and, of course, Delia, before coming up with my own. Although it took a while to cook, it was worth the wait, and the slightly tart apple compote perfectly complemented the rich, sweet rice pudding. Just the thing for a cold autumn evening – a treat I would have missed out on if I had not had a complete change of heart. I’m so glad I did.
Rice pudding with apple cinnamon compote
Serves 6 with compote left over
170g tin evaporated milk
240ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
Lots of freshly grated nutmeg
50g golden caster sugar
100g pudding rice
Pinch of salt
For the compote
800g Bramley apples, well peeled
3-4 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2. Heat the milk, evaporated milk and double cream with the scraped vanilla and pod over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until it is hot but not quite boiling. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.
2. Add the caster sugar, a good grating of nutmeg and the salt. Stir well, then add the rice. Heat for a couple of minutes over a medium heat.
3. Meanwhile, butter a 23cm diameter oven dish. Pour the milky rice mixture into the dish, cover with foil and put in the oven for 30 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven, give the mixture a good stir and put back in the oven, covered with foil, for another 30 minutes. Stir again and return to the oven, uncovered, for 1¼-1½ hours until the rice is creamy and tender, but the pudding is not too dry.
5. Meanwhile, make the compote. Finely slice the apples (I used a vegetable peeler to make it easier and quicker.) Put the sliced apples into a saucepan over a low heat with 2 tbsp water and 1 tbsp of the sugar. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. When the apples have cooked down to become a smooth puree, add the sugar and the cinnamon. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Stir well and set aside.
7. Serve the rice pudding with a dollop of compote. The remaining compote can be kept in the fridge for a week or so.