Jul 15, 2011

Budino di Riso ~ Tuscan "cupcakes"


Rice pudding––as we know it in Toscana––is one of those quintessential family type desserts – you feed it to kids for afternoon snack, or to perk them up when they're sick. They're sold in both pastry shops and bakeries, and are available all year round. The name "budino" actually means pudding, but there's no resemblance to the classic rice pudding. These are small baked rice pastries, the closest we Italians get to cupcakes!
Whenever I bite into one, the texture and flavor swing me back to my childhood. "Budino di riso" recalls Sunday morning passeggiatas in the Villa Borghese with my friends Margherita and Isabella, picking pine nuts and chasing butterflies, chaperoned by their nonna, the late Suso Cecchi d'Amico––world known screenwriter for Fellini and other cinema icons––accompanied by her gluttonous golden retriever Porto (who never missed a fountain for a dive).
Suso was a tireless nanny, great story-teller and awesome goal-keeper when it came to impromptu games of field soccer. During our playtime, we'd always stop at the Casina dell'Orologio cafe for a treat, and our order was always the same: a portion of budino di riso. 
This recipe yields about 10-12 pastries, according to shape.

For the filling:
150 gr (3/4 cup) of rice (I use the kind that will give off starch, like Vialone Nano)
400 gr (2 cups) whole milk
100 gr (1/2 cup) sugar + some confectioner's sugar for dusting
50 gr (1/4 cup) unsalted butter + more for greasing the molds
A pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
A shot glass of rum, or cognac
A dash of cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, slit open and scraped (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
The zest of 1 orange and of 1/2 lemon

For the pastry crust:
200 gr (1 cup) "00" flour + more for dredging
150 gr (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled
A pinch of salt
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven at 180°C (350°F).
Use whatever muffin pans or ramekins you have at home, but ideally you'd need oval molds to make these typical Tuscan rice puddings.

Prepare the pastry first.
Quickly work the ingredients for the shortcrust with your fingertips (run them under cold water first) away from the oven or hot stove: remember, shortcrust pastry dough is tricky.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and a pinch of salt, and using two knives, cut the butter into the flour. Roll up your sleeves, remove any rings and bracelets, and get in there pinching and breaking up the butter chunks further with your fingertips until the texture resembles coarse oatmeal, and the butter pieces are no larger than peas.
Drop in the yolk, and knead just until the dough pulls together. You want to obtain a silky texture, so don't be tempted to add flour.

Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Then roll the dough down to 4 mm (1/8 inch).
Butter and dredge your muffin pans or molds with flour, line each with some pastry dough, and return to the fridge.

Bring 2/3 of the milk to a simmer and add the rice. Cook stirring until it's half done, then fold in the sugar, a pinch of salt, and the butter. Continue to cook, stirring and adding milk as the rice absorbs it, until the rice grains are quite soft.

Remove the mixture from the stove, let it cool until it is hot but not boiling, and stir in the eggs, liquor, cinnamon, vanilla and zest, mixing well.

Pour the mixture, divvying it among the prepared dough-lined molds, and bake for 15 minutes or until a light brown crust forms. Cover with foil and finish baking for another 10-15 minutes.

Remove the pastries from the oven, gently dislodge from the molds and let them cool on a rack. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve at room temperature, with a nice cuppa.

Images © NatadiMarzo



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20 comments:

  1. This recipe looks divine and so delicious...wow!

    ciao from Newport Beach

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  2. Gosh, they don't look like my idea of budino, which would be more like a pudding. I'd call them rice muffins!

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    Replies
    1. the name IS budino di riso, and doesn't have anything to do with a pudding

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  3. These look devine!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe,
    I'll have to try make them:)

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  4. This is not what I expected at all. How different...to me anyway. Rice pudding here is a soft, creamy, almost runny dish eaten from a bowl. this looks so interesting.

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  5. I love these and can remember the very first one I had on a visit to Florence. You've inspired me oi make them-grazie!

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  6. This looks so much more inviting to me than rice pudding in a cup. I'm going to Tuscany in a few months and I will definitely look for it in one of the bakeries.

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  7. I need to make this so I have a memory of this. Did not grow up with any rice pudding but never met a starch I didn't love.

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  8. this looks so much more interesting to me than the traditional rice pudding in a cup. I'll be in Tuscany in October and will definitely keep my eye out for this budino.

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  9. Fabiana~
    Thanks! Glad you like it.

    Saretta~
    Budino normally means the same gelatinous spoon dessert as "pudding," but in this Tuscan dessert, it's a openface tart-type pastry.

    Denise~
    Let me know how they turn out when you do!

    LoriE~
    The name can be confusing, in Italian budino is soft pudding too. But then again in British English pudding is a general term for dessert, right?! Glad you find this interesting.

    Janie~
    Wonderful, I love to inspire!!

    Nicholas~
    Grazie, amico!

    Claudia~
    Great little pastries. I'm sure you'll love them :)

    Foodalogue~
    The fall is th perfect season to enjoy these, with a nice mug of hot cioccolata!!!

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  10. Io lo scrivo in italiano ...
    semplicemente fantastici!!
    Nella sua semplicità, il budino di riso è "il" confort food che adoro : ))
    E brava Eleonora
    Bacio
    Aurelia

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  11. The rice pudding I'm familiar with from England has never really had any appeal to me. This Italian version has me wishing I had childhood memories of enjoying them as a treat too! Lovely

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  12. Aurelia~
    Amicaaaaa! Grazie tesoro, un complimento del genere da una toscana DOC come te non può che farmi felicissima!!

    Val~
    You should try making it, resulting in a whole new set of adulthood sensory memories!!

    :)

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  13. Lovely memories! Very well written as well. My dad loves rice pudding as we know it here in North America - creamy with chunks of rice and raisins. I think I may try to make this for him. He has a bit of a cold and I think he may enjoy this!

    The Wanderfull Traveler

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  14. These really remind me of my infancy in Pisa...a budino di riso was a must, almost every day. I have never tried making them. I will though.

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  15. So interesting! In my part of the world - as the previous commenter said - when you say "rice pudding", it means something totally different; a somewhat soupy (sometimes creamy, depending upon the chef )sort of sweet dessert, made of rice, milk, raisins, cinnamon, sugar, and maybe some nutmeg or mace.

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  16. I grew up eating my mother's rice pudding, usually made for very special occasions. Thanks for this lovely recipe.

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  17. Tried to bake them today. Unfortunately they came out dry. I had set the oven temperature as per your indication, but they were not cooking, the crust wasn't forming, and nothing was happening not even after 30 minutes...by that time, though, they had dried out. I boosted the temperature to at least get the crust, which I did. But the pastry is undercooked and the filling is dry.

    maybe next time...

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  18. Murissa~
    This is not at all like the rice pudding you mention, this is more like a cupcake.

    Jim~
    I've never tried the north American version.

    Kitchen Gurl~
    Thank you for your kind comment.

    Tuscan Foodie~
    Oh, no! I've noticed American ovens yield slightly different results from European ones, namely Italian ones appear to be stronger. For pastries like these I also don't use a ventilated oven. It's hard for me to tweak oven temperatures to factor in these elements... Sorry they didn't turn out :(

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