How To Make An Even More Perfect Rice Pudding

The recipe I use for rice pudding is this one from the Guardian’s ‘how to make perfect’ series. It’s a pretty wonderful recipe (and a pretty great series) but it’s not perfect. It’s got one minor problem. The problem is that you want to fry your rice in the butter and sugar before you add your liquid to give it a more nutty taste, but if you fry your rice in butter and sugar before you add the liquid you cause the starch to breakdown and it’ll loose some of it’s creaminess. So you’re left with a vicious choice; bring out the creaminess and loose the nuttiness, or enhance the nuttiness and lose some of the creaminess.

Of course, I’m not actually a food scientist. I just copy other people’s work. So I only know this because someone else has done lots of work on risotto and what is rice pudding but dessert risotto? So stealing that method of fixing risotto, we can fix rice pudding. Pour the uncooked rice pudding into the milk you’re going to use and stir it for a few minutes. Then drain the rice and let it dry out, keeping the milk. You’ll now have starchy-milk and dry-ish rice. Then just melt the butter and sugar in a pan and tip the rice into it and follow the Guardian recipe the rest of the way. Now you should have extra nutty and extra creamy rice pudding. Even more perfect rice pudding.

This still though, isn’t the best rice pudding to make. The best rice pudding has different flavours to this one. Cardamon and orange instead of bay-leaf and lemon. So here’s the recipe I use for special occasions. Warning; it’s a slightly ridiculous amount of effort for making what should be a simple dish, but like I said, special occasions.

Orange and Cardamon Rice Pudding with Candied Orange Peel

Serves 8 because why make it in smaller quantities?

  • 100g unsalted-butter
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 200g pudding rice
  • 2 litre full-fat milk
  • 10 whole green cardamons, bashed so they’re slightly open and the seeds can fall out
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 300ml double cream
  • An orange, with two strips removed with a sharp potato peeler, the rest of the skin zested
  • 2 tablespoons castor sugar

Note; You should use the widest pan you have that can hold around 3 litres of liquid, the more surface area your pan has the easier it is to fry the rice. If you have a big Le Crueset style cast-iron casserole dish you can do the entire process in one pan.

Rice Pudding

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 140°c /120°c fan
  2. Pour the milk and rice into a bowl or measuring jug. Stir with your hands or a spoon to make sure the rice is thoroughly coated. Pour the milk through a sieve into the widest pan you have (that can comfortably hold 3 litres of liquid) and let the rice dry in the sieve. (at least 5 minutes, giving it a good shake every now and again)
  3. Place the pan full of milk on the stove and add the 10 green cardamons. Turn on the heat to medium-low and stir. Don’t let the pan simmer. Leave for at least 5 minutes no more than 151. Taste the pan and see if it’s absorbed enough cardamon flavour.
  4. Dump the milk back into the bowl or measuring jug through a sieve to remove the cardamon.
  5. Wipe out the pan and place the butter and sugar in it. Turn up the heat to medium. Keep stirring till the butter has melted and is a smooth mixture.
  6. Pour in the rice and fry for around 5 minutes till the rice swells a bit.
  7. Pour in the milk, the cinnamon, nutmeg, the orange zest, and the cream. Stir to make sure it all mixes properly.
  8. Empty the mixture into an roasting tin or casserole dish and place in the oven for 1 ½ hours. If you’re using a cast-iron casserole dish, just place that straight in the oven. The mixture should look ridiculously milky, like it’s a handful of rice floating in milk. That’s fine. The rice will expand.
  9. Check on it fairly regularly. It’s easy to dry out or over-cook the rice and as it keeps well warm and reheats fine, it’s better to take it out sooner rather than later.
  1. If you don’t want skin, cover the tin with foil after 30 minutes or so.

Candied Orange Peel

  1. Take the two strips of orange peel and with a very sharp knife cut them into long thin strips like match sticks. You want them to be about 2 or 3 mm thick at most. Their length is less important.
  2. Place them in a non-stick sauce-pan and cover with a very small amount of boiling water and leave them to sit for a few minutes (straight from the kettle, you don’t need to boil the water in the pan)
  3. Drain the peel and repeat the process.
  4. Drain the peel again, this time add the same amount of boiling water and the 50g of castor sugar. Turn on the heat to medium-hot and let the water start to bubble and boil. Stir them every now and again and allow the water to start to boil off.
  5. When the water’s nearly boiled off remove then pan from the heat and taste one to see if they’re sweet and edible. If they’re still a bit hard, put some more water in and continue the simmering down process
  1. Remove the peel and place it on some kitchen roll to dry.


Serve a lump of rice pudding (it won’t look pretty) with some of the candied orange peel on top.

If you do decide to reheat it in the oven, you might want to stir in some more milk or cream before you put it back into the oven.

If you don’t like the skin and have the energy, you can make the entire rice pudding on the hob. When you add the milk and other ingredients, turn up the heat till the pan starts to simmer then stir it regularly. It’ll cook through like a risotto this way in 20-30 minutes. It needs careful attention to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan or drying out though.

1 I don’t know enough about extracting flavour from cardamons to make a good judgment here on how long you should leave it for. The longer you leave it the more flavour you’ll get out of, but if they’re anything like other spices and seeds you run the risk of pulling out bitter flavours if you leave it too long. If you want it more cardamon-ny I recommend added more caradmon but not increasing the length of time too much. If someone wants to send me a massive bag of cardamons, 6 litres of milk, and 12 hours, I’ll do the science on it and come back to you.