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Rice Cake from Tuscany

Torta di Riso from Tuscany

SERVES 8

Being in the kitchen with Maria Gorelli in Montalcino brought back such fond memories for me of the many times I have traveled to this town of timeless character devoted to wine. While there a few years ago I had the privilege of teaching Tuscan cooking with Italian rice expert Edgardo Sandoli. We were evenly suited to one another in the kitchen and Edgardo made this wonderful torta di riso (rice cake) with arborio rice for us to enjoy after we had sent the students home. Over some coffee and wonderful bites of this comforting treat we talked about the joys of living and cooking in Tuscany. The cake is easy to make and cooked in a bagnomaria, a water bath, to create even heat. Arborio rice is available in supermarkets and specialty stores; it is the same rice used to make risotto.

Ingredients

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup orange liqueur or rum

4 cups milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

Grated zest of 1 large lemon or orange

1/2 cup diced candied orange peel

1/2 cup slivered almonds

2 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup heavy cream, Mascarpone cheese, or plain yogurt

Directions

Butter and flour a 9-X-2-inch cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a sheet of parchment paper and brush the top with melted butter. Set the pan aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Put the raisins in a small bowl, pour the liqueur over them and allow to marinate at least 30 minutes before making the cake.

Slowly bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan, lower the heat, stir in the sugar, and the rice. Lower the heat to simmer, cover the pan and allow the rice to cook until all the milk is absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.

Transfer the rice to a large bowl and allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm. Stir in the raisins with the liqueur, zest, peel, almonds, eggs, and the salt and cinnamon. Slowly stir in the heavy cream and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Place the pan in a larger pan and carefully pour enough hot water into the large pan to a depth of 1 inch.

Bake the cake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean but not dry, about 45 minutes.

Remove the cake pan from the water bath and cool it on a rack. Use a butter knife to loosen the cake around the edges of the pan and carefully invert the cake onto a serving dish. Remove and discard the parchment paper.

Serve the cake cut into wedges with a dollop of mascarpone cheese or whipped cream. Garnish with an orange segment or a strawberry.

The cake can also be made in a buttered and floured 9-X-2-inch ring pan.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA IN TUSCANY by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2003.

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