Rice pudding: warm, comforting, soft, undemanding. It is the perfect food to be eaten slowly, when you are curled up in a blanket, watching a sad movie. In fact, a soft pudding of rice and milk was initially considered food for invalids or those of delicate constitution.
I am giving you two recipes today. One is my grandmother’s which I am calling Blue Monday Rice Pudding which is baked for several hours. The second is a speedier stove top version, Rice Pudding with Bay Leaves. In my previous post I proclaimed to one and all, I was going to find ways of using my life time supply of bay leaves.
Rice pudding has a long history. Almost as long as the history of rice in North America. The Greeks write of rice in 326 BC and a mere two thousand and twenty years later in 1694, America is introduced to rice and, today, it is the largest exporter of rice in the world.
On page 25 of a cookbook with the rather unwieldy title of :
“American Cookery, or the art of dressing viands, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and the best modes of making pastes, puffs, pies, tarts, pudding, custards, and preserves, and all kinds of cakes, from the imperial plum to plain cake: Adapted to this country, and all grades of life.” By Amelia Simons Hartford: printed for Simeon Butler, Northampton, (1798)
there are no less than six variations of rice pudding most with large quantities of eggs (from 8 to 14) and all are made with milk. Spices range from cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice or simply “spice” which might be all or none of the ones mentioned. All these rice puddings are baked for several hours.
My grandmother, Queen Victoria Stansfield, made rice pudding on wash day Monday. The pudding baked slowly while the arduous, exhausting job of doing the laundry was tackled. Monday supper consisted of Sunday’s leftovers and a pudding that baked all day largely unattended. Her name really was Queen Victoria. It goes without saying she was born on May 24th, Queen Victoria’s birthday.
In your recipe collection, you no doubt have recipes where you are instructed to wash or rinse the rice prior to using. Historically, this rinsing was a cleaning process used to remove impurities such as dirt, twigs or bugs. Later on, rinsing was used to remove the polishing additives – talc, glucose or starch.
The amount of sugar used in these historical rice puddings was small which indicates that sugar was a rare and expensive ingredient. It is my observation, as we move forward in history, the amount of sugar used is tripled or even quadrupled especially in the last 40 years. I am sticking to the historical use of sugar treating it as a precious ingredient.
So…go and put in a load of laundry and while you are labouring be comforted in knowing that a warm, delicious reward is at hand.
Queen Victoria Stansfield’s Rice Pudding
(makes about 4 – 6 servings)
The following is hand written on an old recipe card.
2 tablespoons of well-washed rice and 2 cups of milk in a deep pudding dish, well buttered. Cover, and bake slowly for 1- 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add: 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Bake 2 to 3 hours longer.
(or until a lovely mahogany coloured crust forms. There is no temperature given so I have used the temperature for a slow oven of 250 degrees)
Rice Pudding with Bay Laurel
(makes about 5 cups – which could be 10 x 1/2 cup servings but 1/2 cup is just not a big enough serving for me)
3/4 cup short grain or Arborio rice
2 bay leaves
4 cups skim milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. In a small saucepan, bring two cups of water and two bay leaves to a boil. Add rice and return to a boil. Remove from heat and drain.
2. In a large sauce pan add rice, bay leaves, milk, sugar, salt and raisins. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cover. Be careful not to let the milk scorch on the bottom of the sauce pan. I have made this recipe with both Arborio rice and sushi rice. The Arborio rice took more milk. The idea is to have a very creamy pudding – not dry. It will take 3/4 – 1 hour to cook. When finished cooking, remove the bay leaves and add the vanilla.
3. Serve warm or cold. In The Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer  (p.633), suggests serving rice pudding with: cream, strawberry or raspberry hard sauce, fruit juice or hot sherry sauce.
What you accomplish with the recipes I share with you is what makes me eager to share more. Tell me how you are doing. Thank you for following!