Torta Turchesca

Venetian Rice Pudding Tart

Preparation info

  • Serves

    8 to 10

    • Difficulty

      Complex

Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

This is clearly an old recipe, probably dating from the Renaissance. Rice was introduced into Italy by Marco Polo and became very popular in the sixteenth century. The turchesca (turkish) tart is enriched by raisins, dates, rose-water, cinnamon, and orange. Some versions of this dish add almonds or pine nuts, and you may also if you wish. The flavors are Middle Eastern but where the Turks would serve this as a pudding, the Italians, ever opulent, bake it in a crust.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 1⅓ cups (all-purpose) flour
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • tablespoons lightly salted butter, very cold, cut into bits
  • tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into bits
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

    Method

    For the pastry, combine the flour, sugar, and lemon zest in a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a food processor. Cut or process in the salted butter with short pulses until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the unsalted butter and cut in or pulse until the dough begins to come together. Add the water and vanilla to the flour mixture; work it in with your fingers or with 2 pulses of the food processor. Gather the dough into a ball and let rest 10 minutes. Flatten the ball into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

    Preheat the oven to 425°F. Roll out the dough to an 11-inch circle between lightly floured sheets of plastic wrap. Ease into a 9-inch tart pan. Roll a rolling pin over the top of the pan to trim the pastry. Line the tart shell with foil, fill with dry beans or pie weights, and bake 15 minutes. Remove the beans or pie weights with the foil and bake the shell until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

    For the filling, soak the raisins in hot water to cover until plump, about 30 minutes; drain. Heat 2 cups milk and the rice in a heavy medium saucepan to simmering, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Stir the remaining ¾ cup milk, the drained raisins, the cream, sugar, dates, orange zest, and cinnamon into the rice. Heat to simmering, stirring occasionally. Lightly beat the egg yolks, rosewater, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Gradually stir in about ½ cup of the warm rice mixture, then stir it into the remaining mixture in the pan. Stir in the nuts if using. Spoon the rice filling into the baked tart shell and smooth the top. Bake until the filling is lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream flavored with a little rosewater or cinnamon.