Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gâteau de Riz (Rice Cake) with Cardamom and Vanilla

I have made reference so many times to my childhood special moments in France and my fond memories of my nanny's famous gâteau de riz in previous posts, that I think you get the picture that gâteau de riz (aka rice cake) has been my favourite dessert since I was a teenie weenie. I never forgot the taste of the cake my nanny would make in Normandy, while we were on vacation with family and friends.

Now more than ever, it really does feels like years ago, yet I can still smell the cake baking in the oven at the country house my nanny's family owned in north of France. Finally, I found the recipe that my nanny had given me eons ago. As you know, when you move, you either never find anything ever again, or you discover old little items that you thought were forever lost or long gone. And there it was, in a very dusty box, along with old pictures of high school and black and white pictures of my parents when they were students back in Grenoble, France.
Despite the fact that North America produce is so much different than that of France, I was very happy with the way this rice cake turned out but it didn't quite have the exact taste or aroma as I remember it to be back in the days..but close enough. If you've travelled to France (and even other countries in Europe), you'd agree with me that meats, bread and especially dairy products taste so much better. Yogurts are "creamier" and taste a hundred times more fresh! Cheeses are more flavourful and meats are sooooo tender. At least, those are my observations.
So, I now share with you a wonderful recipe of gâteau de riz, to which I added my favourite combination of fragrances, cardamom and vanilla.
recipe "au pif":
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to grease pans / ramequins
4 tbsps short grain rice (Arborio or other)
3 whole eggs

4 tsps raw cane sugar (or 1/3 cup regular granulated sugar)

2 cups milk (I prefer using 3.25% whole milk - but 1 or 2% can also be used)

1/3 cup crème fraiche (sour cream can be used)

1 vanilla bean, sliced in two lengthwise, seeds scraped with knife

5 cardamom pods, shells discarded, seeds finely grinded in mortar and pestle

1/2 tsp freshly grounded nutmeg

1/4 cup raisins (optional), soaked in warm water for 30 minutes , water discarded

Preheat oven at 320F (160C).

Using your hands, generously grease any medium sized baking dish or 6 - 8 small ramequins with the softened butter.

Cook rice in boiling water for about 10 minutes until rice is soft. Discard excess water through strainer. Put rice aside.

In a salad bowl, whisk eggs with sugar, milk, crème fraîche, vanilla and cardamom until all ingredients are well blended together. Add in the rice and give it a nice stir.

Pour the mixture in the greased baking dish (or ramequins) and sprinkle freshly grated nutmeg.

Bake for about 45 minutes (or 20-25 minutes in convectional oven).

With a toothpick, check rice cake for firmness (toothpick should come out clean), then remove from oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes to cool before serving.

This wonderful dessert can be served with fresh fruits and of course, a drizzle of your favourite liquor (rum, name it).

Serves 6-8 people.

Share and enjoy!


jenna said...

Is this a traditional french dessert?Because I can't find any info on it.:/

QlinArt said...

Hi Jenna, yes it is mostly in the tench country side. In fact I just started seeing some in a new european pastry shop near my work in Montreal. You need to google 'gateau aux riz' but most of the sites carrying the recipes are in French.