Rice pudding is home cooking at its most evocative, a dessert made by generations of grandmothers like Vittoria Genovese in the tiny Ligurian town of Nicola. The top is pale golden, its interior fragrant with the flavor of lemon and a hint of rum. As it cooks, the pudding separates so that the rice sinks to the bottom and a creamy layer of custard rises to the top. It is best served at room temperature, still warm from the oven. If you must refrigerate it, reheat it in a 325°F. oven for 20 minutes before serving.
If you can find it, please use the short-grain Italian rice called originario to produce the right creamy texture, although Arborio will work too. You can cook the rice ahead and make the rest of the pudding when you are ready.