This beautiful Italian dish is a bit like a cross between rice pudding and custard tart, but sexier! Victoria shows how to make the classic Torta di riso gluten free.
I’d love to be able to tell some romantic story about eating this tart for the first time in northern Italy, with the smell of the sea air in the breeze and the reflection of the moon on the water. But no. I first ate this tart in the rather less glamorous setting of the British seaside town of Hastings. It was in the late 1990s, in a little family run Italian, with Formica table tops and cheesecloth curtains. I have long since forgotten the name of it, but whether or not the restaurant still exists, the memory of their torta di riso has been indelibly etched on my taste buds.
I wanted to recreate the dish, but make it suitable for the reams of gluten dodgers who make up a large proportion of my nearest and dearest. The filling is already gluten-free, so it was simply a matter of swapping the pastry for a gluten free shortcrust. The lemon zest adds a delicious fragrance to the dish, which is a bit like a cross between rice pudding and custard tart, but sexier. I have also added rum soaked raisins because I’m a sucker for rum and raisin, but you can use grappa or soak the raisins in a little hot water instead if you prefer.
Gluten-free Torta di riso
For the pastry
115g rice flour
115g ground almonds
50g icing sugar
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
For the filling
8 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
500ml single cream
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
90g risotto rice
The finely grated zest of 1 lemon
125g raisins, soaked for at least half an hour in 50ml dark rum
To make the pastry, blitz the flour, almonds, sugar and salt together in a food processor until well combined (no need to sift anything). Add the butter and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and blitz again until a soft dough forms. Scrape it out into a sandwich bag or onto a piece of cling film and pop in the fridge for about 15 minutes before rolling it out and lining your tart tin. Once lined, prick the base and pop your tart tin into the freezer for 20 minutes to set.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F/Gas Mark 4
Line the pastry with baking parchment – I find the easiest way to do this is to crumple the parchment roughly before sitting it snugly inside the tart case – and cover with baking beans. Pop the pastry in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the baking beans and parchment. Pop back in the oven for 5 minutes, before transferring the tart tin to a wire rack to cool slightly.
In the meantime, make the filling. Boil the rice for 15 minutes in water. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a large heatproof bowl and beat until pale and fluffy. Put the cream and vanilla pod in a saucepan over a medium heat and gently bring to the boil. Slowly pour the hot cream over the egg mixture, whisking as you go. Add the lemon zest and raisins plus the soaking rum to the custard. Stir in the cold partially cooked rice and carefully pour the custard into the tart case. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until just set. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, then leave to cool completely before slicing.
Inspired? For more beautiful tart recipes visit our collection at Great British Chefs.