The Musette: spiced rice pudding

If I have a flat full of cyclists, or indeed guests, you’ll generally find a large bowl of home-made rice pudding in my fridge. It’s instant comfort food which can easily double as a quick and nourishing breakfast before a long ride. Pretty much everyone loves it because it evokes fond childhood memories. My husband claims it’s one of the few dishes his mother used to cook well. Frankly I doubt it as, like cigarettes, the outlaw’s cooking carries a government health warning!

I don’t like a skin on my rice pudding. I cook it on the top of the stove and I eat it cold, often with compote of spiced fruit. This particular recipe came about a few summers’ ago when I trained at altitude with some cycling friends who (like me) had sworn off milk, cream and white sugar.

Ingredients (serves eight hungry cyclists)

  • 1 litre (4 cups) rice or oat milk
  • 500ml (2 cups) coconut milk
  • 1 fat vanilla pod, split lengthways
  • 1 medium-sized cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 150g (1 cup) short whole grain pudding rice
  • 3 tbsp of rice or date or maple syrup

Method

1. Warm the milk, vanilla pod and seeds, star anise and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over a low heat until simmering. This helps infuse the flavours.

2. Add the rice which you’ve pre-rinsed under a hot-water tap and continue cooking, stirring from time to time until the rice is tender. I find this takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the heat.

3. Warning: don’t be put off by the putty-coloured and thick wall-paper paste consistency of the pudding.

4. Gently stir in the coconut milk to restore the pudding to a creamy colour and runny consistency. Add the syrup and the pinch of salt, stir to dissolve and check the sweetness. I do not have an overly sweet tooth, so you may wish to add more syrup, but do so in teaspoons rather than tablespoons.

5. Pour the rice into a serving bowl. Cover the surface with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave to cool. Do not remove any of the flavourings as they will continue to infuse the rice with their heady perfumes. When cool, put in the fridge. The pudding will thicken to the right consistency.

6. To serve, remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Remove the flavourings and serve either on its own or with a fruit compote (see recipe below in Sheree’s Handy Hints).

Sheree’s Handy Hints

 1. A more traditional rice pudding can be made in exactly the same fashion by substituting the rice milk with full-fat milk, the coconut milk with single cream, the rice syrup with 6 tbsp of caster sugar and retaining just the fat vanilla pod and seeds for flavouring. I generally work using the proportion of 150g (1 cup) of rice per 1½ litres of liquid (6 cups). Of course, it can be served either hot or cold.

2. I have also made the dessert using almond milk and soya milk but was less keen on the overall taste, preferring to use unsweetened rice or oat milk for the lactose–free version.

3. For a more Spanish take on the dessert, rather than the vanilla pod, use two sticks of cinnamon and a single large piece of lemon zest for flavouring. Serve the pudding cold with a dusting of cinnamon powder.

4. For the spiced plum compote, take 2-3 ripe, juicy black plums, quarter and remove stones. Simmer gently in a saucepan with a star anise and one cinnamon stick in either a few tablespoons of water or some plum vodka – I have a store cupboard full of all manner of alcoholic beverages which only get used for cooking – just until the plums soften and give up their juices. Sweeten as necessary with your sweetener of choice. I will generally use 1 tbsp of runny honey. Serve cold on the side with the rice pudding.

4. I have also served the lactose-free rice pudding recipe above decorated with toasted shredded coconut and with chopped fresh mangoes on the side.

5. There are a few more iterations that I have successfully tried with the traditional milk rice pudding.

  • A sinful adult version with the addition of a handful of raisins soaked in warm rum before the pudding is left to cool.
  • A more child-friendly version with the addition of 200g of dark melted chocolate.  Though, to be honest, plenty of adults enjoyed this too.

The Musette: blueberry and lemon coffee cake

I follow a lot of food blogs, some vegan some not. But they’re all written by passionate cooks whose recipes are tried and tested. I often read about recipes and think: “Oooh, delicious, I must make that sometime.” Then, when sometime occurs, I can’t find the recipe. But, no more. I’ve set up a system whereby I store the addresses of all these fabulous recipes though I doubt I’ll live long enough to make them all!

As soon as I read Diana’s recipe for Blueberry Lemon Quick Bread, I realised that with only one egg in the list of ingredients this would probably work equally well as a vegan version. And, you know what? It did! A big thank you to Diana for the inspiration.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 195g (11/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 75g (1/3 cup) golden cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp organic lemon zest
  • 180ml (3/4 cup) plant-based milk, I used almond milk
  • 3tbsp aquafaba (or use 1 egg, lightly beaten)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100g (1 cup) blueberries, I used frozen

Lemon Glaze:

  • 125g (1 cup) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1-4 tbsp organic lemon juice

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan). Spray the bottom and sides of a 1 litre (9″ x 5″) loaf tin with vegetable oil and line the bottom with greaseproof (parchment) paper.

2. Into a large bowl sift and combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add the lemon zest, sugar and stir well.

3. In a small bowl whisk together the plant-based milk, aquafaba (or egg) and oil.

4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and combine gently with a spatula using figure of eight movements until there are no dry spots of flour.

5. Add 1tbsp flour to a bowl containing the blueberries and gently mix to coat the berries with the flour. This will prevent them sinking to the bottom of the cake. Gently fold the berries into the batter – it should drop off the spatula – and pour into the baking tin. Level the top of the cake with an offset spatula.

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

7. Place the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before carefully remove the cake from the tin and placing it back on the cooling rack until completely cool.

8. Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining the icing sugar and lemon juice (1 tbsp at a time) in a small bowl. Add just enough lemon juice so that the mixture is thick but you can still drizzle it from a tablespoon.

9. Drizzle the glaze over the bread, wait for it to set and then enjoy!

10. You can store the cake in an air tight container or cover with cling film (plastic wrap) for 3-4 days but, trust me, it won’t last that long. If you’re going to freeze the cake, don’t add the glaze until you’re ready to eat it.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than the cake should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you think the cake is browning too quickly, particularly at the edges, cover it with an aluminium foil tent.

4. You can prepare a non-vegan version of the cake following Diana’s original recipe using a large egg and whole milk.

5. The recipe will work equally well with fresh blueberries but without the additional moisture from the frozen ones, you may need to add a couple of tablespoons of milk or plant-based milk to get the desired dropping consistency.

6. You can use this as the base recipe for a number of mixtures such as strawberries with orange, or raspberries with lemon, plums with clementines, rhubarb with ginger – the possibilities are endless.