Rice Pudding

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

rice pudding is the descendant of earlier rice pottages, which date back the Romans, who however used such a dish only as a medicine. There were medieval rice pottages made of rice boiled until soft, then mixed with almond milk or cow’s milk, or both, sweetened, and sometimes coloured. Rice was an expensive import, and these were luxury Lenten dishes for the rich. Recipes for baked rice puddings began to appear in the early 17th century. In one, rice previously cooked in milk was combined with sugar, breadcrumbs, egg yolks, half the whites, bone marrow, ambergris, rosewater (see roses), nutmeg, and mace. There is a traditional Cumberland rich rice pudding, ‘clipping time’ pudding, with suet or marrow, raisins, currants, sometimes eggs, and cinammon. Plain boiled rice puddings enclosed in a cloth appeared in the 18th century. Usually they included raisins. Boiled sweet rice puddings are often found today, but their character is more pottage than puddings and the influence is Indian rather than medieval. A similar pottage/pudding is the Scandinavian dish mostly eaten at Christmastide all around the Baltic.