Rice tortas, or rice pudding cakes, fall somewhere between a cake and a custard, and are a tradition all over Europe. This one takes its cues from Hungary, and is topped with a rich, red wine compote made with Hungary's prized fruit, cherries. The sauce blends beautifully into the rice giving it contrast in color and flavor-a fine finish to a rich meal.
- Butter, for the pan
- Rice flour, for dusting
- 2 1/2 cups cooked medium or long-grain white rice, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 7 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 heaping teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- Pinch fine sea salt
Red Wine Cherry Sauce:
- 1 pound dark sweet cherries, pitted, or 12 ounces pitted frozen cherries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup merlot
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper and butter again. Dust the pan lightly with rice flour. Spread the cooked rice along the bottom of the pan.
2. Warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat.
3. Beat the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium until pale yellow and the eggs start to thicken, about 1 1/2 minutes, being careful not to over whip which will cause the cake to rise and deflate when baked. Slowly stir in about half the warm milk into the eggs to temper, then add all the eggs to the saucepan and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens slightly and almost coats the back of a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes.
4. Gently pour the custard over the rice and bake until the cake is just cooked through and wiggles only slightly in the very center, 40 to 50 minutes.
5. While the cake cooks, make the red wine cherry sauce. Combine the cherries, sugar, and wine in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring until the fruit softens and the liquid is reduced and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Cool and set aside.
6. Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Invert onto a platter and lift the pan. Remove the parchment paper. Cut into wedges and serve with the cherry sauce.
Cook's Note: Alternatively, this cake can be baked in a gratin dish or square baking dish for a more causal rustic presentation with the sauce spooned over top.