The cake is naturally gluten free. It works JUST FINE with lactose-free milk, if you have lactose-free people to worry about as well. And the sugar can be reduced, or replaced with glucose powder, if you have people with sugar problems. (One warning: don't try too many substitutions at once unless you have to. A version made with low-fat lactose-free milk AND minimal sugar is more or less edible, but a touch spartan. On the other hand, the friend I make it for that way thinks it's a luxury compared with no cake at all.) _
6oz / 180g Arborio rice
1 and 3/4 pints / 1 litre full-fat milk (2% milk is fine, but low-fat milk makes the cake distinctly less luscious.)
5 oz / 150g caster sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon of real vanilla extract/essence
1. In a large glass bowl, combine the rice, milk, salt and 2/3 of the sugar. Microwave for about 30 mins (stopping the microwave and stirring every five minutes or so and making sure it doesn't boil over) until the rice is tender and it's a bit porridgey but not quite as thick as risotto. Allow to cool for 20 or 30 minutes. It will form a skin but it doesn’t seem to matter, I just keep stirring it back in. (Note – at this stage, if you just stir in the vanilla and don't bother to add eggs or cook it, it is delicious spooned into bowls as a quick rice pudding.)
2. Preheat the oven to 325F / 170C.
3. Prepare a 10 in / 25cm round pan in your favourite way. I always use silicon paper, with a spot of butter or olive oil to stick it to the sides of the pan.
4. With an electric mixer, or by hand if you’re feeling strong, combine the eggs and the remaining sugar and beat until thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Next, pour that mix into the rice/milk mixture in the big bowl and stir a bit. Pour it into the prepared pan. It will be really quite gloopy.
5. Place the pan in the centre of the oven and bake until the cake is a pale golden colour and firm in the centre - 40 or 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.
6. Turn the cake out onto a plate. The top can be sticky, so put some silicon paper on the plate you turn it with. Optionally, sprinkle with icing sugar through a small sieve/strainer, to make it look prettier. It's great with cream and/or ice cream, and especially good with berries as well.
- Jenny Blackford