Monday, February 25, 2008

Italian Country Rice Flan / Torta di Risso

This is another of my Italian favorites and also known as Torta di Risso. I have been working on this recipe for some time, I finally feel like it's good enough to share. Good quality Citron is sometimes very hard to find, but King Arthur Flour has it available on their web site. Do not use the candied fruit they sell at the grocery store that is traditionally used for fruit cakes. If you cannot find good quality citron, then just add some extra lemon rind in it's place.

The ratio of rice to milk may seem a little odd, but the finished product produces a rich custard like flan. After simmering at a slow boil for an hour the rice plumps up and most of the milk is absorbed. I keep the heat on medium-low and stir occasionally, scraping the side of the pot. If the rice mixture is not thick enough after cooking for an hour, continue to cook until it becomes thick like rice pudding.(it's more about how it looks rather than how long it takes to get there). I make the pastry by hand, you can use a food processor if you like. The pastry seems a little dry at first, but after all the ingredients are incorporated and while the dough is still in the bowl; I knead it lightly until it comes together into a ball. (I leave the dough in the bowl to knead so I don't have to add additional flour as a result of kneading it on the counter). For the topping, you may use lattice work or lay horizontal pieces of dough like I did (see photo). The recipe calls for an 8" spring-form pan, you could substitute a 9" pan which is a more common size. The only difference if you use a larger pan is it will be a little flatter and will cook for a shorter period of time.

Italian Country Rice Flan / Torta di Risso


2 cups (300 grams) all- purpose flour
200 grams butter (3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg


3 3/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup arborio or other short grain rice
4 eggs
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup chopped citron
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of one orange
powdered sugar mixed with a little cinnamon for topping for sprinkling on top if desired

1. Sift flour into a very large bowl, then using a pastry blender, cut in butter evenly. Lightly mix in sugar and egg to make a dough. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat, bring milk, sugar and butter to a boil. Stir in rice; reduce heat and simmer gently for 1 hour. Stirring occasionally until mixture is thick and creamy, (the milk should be almost all the way absorbed, the mixture should be very thick). Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, cream cheese, citron, lemon and orange zest and cinnamon to combine. Gradually stir into rice mixture and allow to cool.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out two thirds of the dough to fit an 8" spring-form pan. Cover the sides and bottom of the pan. Pour rice mixture into pan.

5. with the remaining dough, make a lattice over the rice. Bake 45-50 minutes, covering with foil if starts becoming too brown. Do not unmold until completely set. Sift cinnamon laced powdered sugar on top if desired. Serve at room temperature.


  1. This is a beautiful thing -- and it sounds delicious, too!

  2. What a stunning masterpiece! Really, this is amazing. It is 100% my style of dessert. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Interesting... looks fantastic. Great photos

  4. What a cute picture! Sounds like a lovely recipe, thanks for sharing.

    (via Tastespotting).

  5. This is the first time I see this tart, Katia - I love rice pudding, so you've got me curious!

  6. that is a thing of beauty.

    this cake is one of those things that i didn't really like when i was little - it was always a let-down as a dessert. but now that i'm all growed and i don't need all my desserts to contain 3 lbs of sugar, i love it!

  7. This looks absolutely fantastic! Really beautiful!

  8. This is gorgeous, and something I've never tried before!

  9. Now that looks good! I really like the look of the rice in that slice.

  10. Thank you everyone for your sweet comments.

    Patricia, if you like rice pudding, you are going to love this.

    Kevin, thanks- me too. I love the way it forms layers when the rice and citron sink to the bottom.

  11. wow - that is really beautiful. So inspiring that you created the recipe for such a complicated thing!

  12. thanks for my lovely comment on my tuille biscuits, just wanted to say that this looks perfect when its whole, and then it looks even better when you cut into it! good job!

  13. I made this last weekend and found the dough so dry that I added another egg. The rest of the recipe was wonderful...

  14. I was just revisiting this - I can't wait to try this. Ignorant question though: citron? Never seen that here - would a regular lemon do?

  15. Such a pretty desert.
    I can't wait for an excuse to try this.

  16. That cake is really good and simple, very traditional here in Italy, but the name is Torta di Riso with a single S. Luv ur blog!

  17. I'm making this tomorrow. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!


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