The Long Way Home

Winter Comfort Food Craving: Southern Baked Rice Pudding
December 1, 2009, 9:27 PM
Filed under: Kitchen, Pennsylvania, Vintage Photo Album | Tags: , , ,


As a child, there were a few dishes I could never order in a restaurant  or eat at other people’s homes because the only one I trusted to make them was my mother.

I couldn’t eat pasta if it wasn’t made by my Italian mother. It wasn’t ‘real’ pasta unless it was covered in a bolognese sauce slow-simmered for hours over a hot stove  (I’ve since gotten over my phobia of non-Italian cooks, or else I’d be missing out on a lot of goodness in the world).

Tuna salad was out of the question because almost everyone used mayonnaise. Except my mother, who used Miracle Whip. She mixed just enough of the salad dressing to keep the tuna bound and moist, adding finely chopped onions and celery for crunch, served neatly packed between two slices of white toast and sliced in half-triangles.

And there was her Southern baked rice pudding, which is not a Southern specialty,  but a recipe my mother adapted from the back of an Uncle Ben’s rice package from the early 1970s. It is one of the recipes she collected in the early years of my parents’ short-lived marriage, a dish that permitted even my father to say one nice thing about my mother. 

When she actually cooked, she was a damn good cook, and this pudding was one of my favorites. I can still see it cooling on the stove in the long glass Pyrex baking dish, the top a pale rust color from the cinnamon, slightly burnt along the edges. It is more cake-like than pudding, a really rich custard, making me wonder why it’s called ‘pudding’ at all.

Years later in college, I was eating with a group of friends in a diner and one of the vegan girls at the table asked the waitress, “What is in your rice pudding?” The waitress rolled her eyes and said, “Pudding with rice in it.” And indeed it was, a glistening, soupy vanilla mixture with rice  tossed in it as an afterthought. Definitely not my mother’s.

The following recipe was printed in a 1980 cookbook put out by Allegheny Valley School, where my mother used to work.

1 cup uncooked rice

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Dash of nutmeg or mace


Soak uncooked rice in 2 cups of milk, 2 hours. Add remaining milk to rice and cook over low heat, 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 2-quart casserole. Work 2 tablespoons of butter until soft, then work the sugar thoroughly.

Beat eggs until frothy, add sugar mixture and rice. Flavor with lemon rind, cinnamon, and nutmeg or mace. Pour into casserole and bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold, plain or with cream and sugar. 

Serves 6 to 8 people.

the well-loved recipe

3 Comments so far
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[…] started when my good friend Lisa wrote about her mother’s recipe for rice pudding on her e-blog, Long Way Home.  She and I decided to try and decipher her mother’s typed directions overlaid with hand written […]


Pingback by Fierce Foodie: I’m Just Crazy About Saffron (Rice Pudding) - Fierce and Nerdy

that looks mighty taste. I might just use the egg yokes…

also, I really love you mom’s notes and the yellow edging.


Comment by bill

I loved my mom’s notes too, that’s why I scanned the original page (and also so I have a copy of my own!). I typed the original recipe underneath the notes. It’s not perfect, but I think if people want to use it they’ll get the gist of what she is saying. Isn’t that what recipes are all about?


Comment by Lisa

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