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Vanilla Rice Pudding with Apple and Blackberry Compote

AUTUMN

INGREDIENTS

  • 150g risotto rice
  • 75g sugar
  • 500ml milk
  • 10g butter
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 300ml double cream

For the compote:

  • 2 small cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 60g sugar
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 150g blackberries

You will probably think this method of making rice pudding looks difficult because it is done in a bain-marie – i.e. in a bowl over a pan of simmering water – but in fact it is much easier than on a hob, as you barely have to stir it, and you don’t have to watch it to make sure it isn’t catching during the slow cooking over nearly 2 hours (this gentle cooking is what makes the pudding so soft and creamy). All you need to do is check now and then that the water in the pan below the bowl isn’t boiling away. We started making this with risotto rice, as it was impossible to find organic pudding rice – and it makes a perfect pudding. Of course you can make it at any time of the year, and serve it on its own, or with whatever fruit you like, but it is particularly good with apples and blackberries in the autumn.

METHOD

Put the rice, sugar, milk, butter, vanilla and nutmeg into a large ovenproof bowl, cover with clingfilm and place over a pan of gently simmering water – make sure the base of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Cook for about 1¾–2 hours, stirring occasionally and making sure that the water in the pan doesn’t evaporate away – top it up as necessary. It is ready when most of the liquid has been absorbed, the rice is soft and the pudding has thickened. Take off the heat, stir in the double cream, and remove the vanilla pod.

While the rice is cooking, make the compote: put the apples, sugar and lemon juice into a small pan with 3 tablespoons of water, cover and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until the apples soften. Stir in the blackberries, cook for a few more minutes until the berries ‘bleed’, then take off the heat.

Serve the rice pudding in individual bowls, with a spoonful of compote on top.

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