Tag Archives: vanilla pod

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Torta di Riso (Italian Rice Cake)

Rice cake

Rice dishes are very common in Italy, especially in the northern areas, because rice was so plentiful (rice has been grown in Italy since the 15th century). Traditionally Torta di Riso was served as a celebration cake – for weddings, baptisms, Christmas and Easter. A particular favourite in Tuscany, apparently, it’s a flourless cake that uses risotto rice instead of flour, and can also be eaten as a dessert.

It’s lovely to make a cake without the usual flour-combination-method. Not for those on a low-carb diet(!), this cake is mouthful after mouthful of sweet, substantial comfort. The risotto rice is simmered in flavoured milk (I’ve used dairy-free, of course) until soft and creamy, then mixed with lots of beaten eggs and the remaining ingredients, before being baked in the oven. The vanilla and cinnamon imbue the cake with sweet tones, and the lemon zest gives a citrusy kick. Make sure you don’t overcook the rice in the first stage (take it off the hob while it still has some bite) and use really good quality eggs, preferably organic.

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free

Serves 4     Preparation time 15 minutes plus cooling time     Cooking time 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 50g/1¾oz dairy-free margarine, plus extra for greasing
  • 150g/5½oz/⅔ cup fruit sugar or caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 1.25l/44 fl oz/5 cups dairy-free milk
  • 250g/9oz/heaped 1 cup arborio or risotto rice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • grated zest of ½ lemon
  • 2 large eggs, plus 5 large egg yolks
  • 25g/1oz/scant ¼ cup ground almonds
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • icing sugar, to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and lightly grease a deep, springform 20cm/8in cake tin with dairy-free margarine and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. Put the margarine, sugar, vanilla pod and milk in a large, heavy-based saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Add the rice and turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is creamy and soft, but still has a slight bite. Remove from the heat and scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add, then add the cinnamon and lemon zest and stir in thoroughly. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and leave to cool completely.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and egg yolks until pale and thick. Fold the ground almonds, gluten-free baking powder and xanthan gum into the mixture. Make sure the mixture is well mixed but take care not to overmix it.
  4. Remove the vanilla pod from the rice mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the rice and stir gently until combined. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface with the back of a spoon.
  5. Bake for about 60 minutes until firm to the touch and cooked through. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin, transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Once cooled, sprinkle icing sugar over and serve.

Dairy-Free Coconut Panacotta

This is richer than a dairy-based panacotta, and looks impressive. It’s well worth spending the money on agar-agar flakes as they work incredibly well (the Japanese have used them for centuries), are preservative- and chemical- free and even contain nutrients from the sea vegetables they’re made from.

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, seed-free, soy-free, egg-free, citrus-free

Cooking time 8 minutes plus 1½ hours chilling time     Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 400ml coconut cream
  • 2½ tbsp xylitol or fruit sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 tsp agar agar flakes
  • unsweetened coconut flakes, to serve
  1. Spoon the coconut cream into a saucepan and heat gently over a low heat, until it has softened into a liquid. Add the xylitol or fruit sugar and the vanilla pod and sprinkle the agar agar flakes over. Turn up the heat and bring almost to the boil. Turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 3-5 minutes until the agar agar flakes have dissolved, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat until hot. Add the coconut flakes and dry-fry until lightly browned, turning frequently to prevent burning. Tip the toasted flakes into a bowl.
  3. Remove the coconut liquid from the heat, discard the vanilla pod and, using a hand-held electric whisk, beat well for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Pour the liquid into two 175ml ramekins and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 1½ hours until set. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut flakes and serve.