8

I've never made rice pudding before so I tried this recipe, exactly (no frills like raisins or anything).

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups steamed rice
  • 1 dash nutmeg

Steps:

  1. Separate eggs, beat yolks.
  2. Add sugar, salt, milk, vanilla, and rice.
  3. Stiffly beat egg whites and fold into mixture.
  4. Turn into baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
  6. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for 45 minutes.

What I did:

  1. It doesn't really specify short or long grain so I made it with basmati rice (the way I make it is about 1 1/2 cups dry rice boiled in 8 cups of water for 12 minutes then drain and rinse with hot water, it's very fluffy this way).
  2. Separate eggs, beat yolks, dump everything including rice into a bowl and mix well.
  3. Beat egg whites then dump into bowl and mix well. I don't know what "stiffly beat egg whites" means. Pour it into a glass baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
  5. Put it in the oven.

I used white sugar, 2% milk, himalayan pink salt, and medium-sized (US) eggs.

But it came out pretty gross. It had a film on top like milk gets immediately after pulling it out, but I mixed that all in. Mostly it had a lot of puddles of yellow, cloudy, watery liquid in it, and the whole thing had a pretty watery texture.

It tasted like... salty eggs or something (and like like commenters, I am confused by the saltiness; it wasn't strong but it was there). Sort of like if I washed a bowl of eggs then dumped some day old rice in the dirty dishwater. Yum.

I don't understand what happened here. Does anything here scream anything out to anybody with some experience?

Was it the type of rice? The way I made it? How I mixed/beat things together? Something I don't understand about the ingredients? Incorrect cooking temperature or time? Just a bad recipe (but it got OK reviews)? Is there anything that could've been wrong with any of my steps or ingredients that would make it turn out so poorly in this way?

  • 3
    While Catija's points are very good, I think there might be something else wrong with the recipe... you said it tasted salty and eggy and watery, which is not at all the correct flavor profile. Less starch would make it thinner, and not whipping the egg whites (or other technique errors) would change the texture, but the flavors should be there from the sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and milk even if it is thin. I'm less sure of what the problem might be, it might be something wrong with the recipe since I can think of very few errors that will change the flavor if all ingredients are present. – Megha Jan 15 '17 at 5:54
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    This seems to be a very complicated recipe. All the recipes I'm familar with are essentially just "put raw pudding rice, milk, sugar and any spices you want in a dish. Stick it in the oven for a couple of hours." Pudding rice is a short-grained rice. – David Richerby Jan 15 '17 at 11:54
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    @Megha I agree with you totally. I wonder if too much salt was added. I don't see how 1/2.teaspoon of salt could be enough to give the finished dish a salty flavor. – Cindy Jan 15 '17 at 16:17
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    @JasonC The amount of salt you get in a teaspoon is very dependent on grain size. If you have a very finely powdered salt (think: like powdered sugar/icing sugar) then there will be very little air in your teaspoon; if you had a much coarser salt (e.g., kosher salt but, to see what's going on, consider some hypothetical salt with grains the size of peas), there'd be a huge amount of air in your teaspoon, so much less actual salt. This is why careful recipes specify what kind of salt to use: not because the flavour really differes but because grain size affects quantity a lot. – David Richerby Jan 15 '17 at 17:37
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    I'd suspect the salty taste was because of the watery texture. The watery part is what you would immediately taste. // Rice pudding should have a custard like consistency with the rice grans suspended in the custard. // I'd suspect that you made the rice and immediately used that to make the rice pudding. So the rice itself was too wet. I've always made rice pudding with "left over rice." So if you let the rice cool and dry out a bit I think you have better results. // I've never whipped the whites. – MaxW Jan 15 '17 at 18:22
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I've never made a baked rice pudding before but I have a couple of guesses at what went wrong...

1. Chosen rice preparation method caused loss of needed starch.

First, I don't think the type of rice matters much but I will say that your method differs from the standard method in the US for cooking rice. Generally, we boil the rice with about twice the volume of water as rice until all of the water is absorbed. There's no dumping out extra water or rinsing.

This may not make the best rice for direct consumption but it concentrates the starches because none of them escape when you drain off the water or, worse, rinse it.

This starch is probably at least some of what helps the rice thicken while being baked... so your soupy result is because there wasn't enough thickening agent.

2. Stiffly beaten egg whites means something special.

I can't stress enough, when cooking, if you want to be successful, look up any terms you don't understand... or come and ask us here... that's what we're here for.

Regular egg whites look like this (all images taken from the Joe Pastry link below):

Unwhipped egg whites

Egg whites that have been "stiffly beaten" look like whipped cream. They have peaks that stand up on their own when the whisk is removed from the bowl. This Joe Pastry page has a guide to the method for achieving this.

The ones below are soft peaks - see how they fold over at the tips?

"Soft peaks" beaten egg whites

And here is your target, "stiff peaks". No folding tips, dense foam.

Stiff peaks

If your egg whites looked more like the first picture, they won't do their job of adding structure to your pudding.

Stiffly beat egg whites and fold into mixture.

The word "fold" is important here. To avoid breaking the egg whites back down into mush, you gently fold them into the pudding so that they retain their structure for their time in the oven.

So, I think that these two issues will be your main culprits for why this recipe failed on you.


Additional possible but less troublesome issues:

  • Milk percentage - The milk percentage probably didn't matter but it's probably going to be better in the end if you use whole milk. My go-to recipe uses whole milk and half and half (and no eggs), so it's much richer than this one... it's also a stovetop method and it's amazing.

  • Egg size - The standard for eggs in recipes in the US is usually "large" sized eggs (~2 oz/~56 g) unless otherwise noted, so if you used medium in the US or Canada (~1.75 oz/~49 g), that will make a bit of difference as the egg is your main thickening agent in addition to the starch - but if you're in the UK or Europe, I believe the equivalent for that is "medium", so that shouldn't be an issue. Info on egg sizes in different countries on Wikipedia.

  • Oven temperature - Your oven could be off but if you find it generally performs well, this likely isn't the issue, particularly considering all of the other issues.

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    Rice type is also important. Basmati is low starch rice which makes it great for making Briyani and fried rice. If possible use either risotto rice or short-grain Asian/Chinese rice. – slebetman Jan 15 '17 at 5:06
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    Well, I've got three batches in the oven, with whole milk, large eggs, plain white salt (I used Himalayan salt before), and properly whipped egg whites. I've got one with boiled+rinsed basmati as a control, one with steamed basmati, and one with steamed arborio. We'll see what happens! – Jason C Jan 15 '17 at 16:04
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    @JasonC We'd love if you would post your results after you've tried the different variants. – Catija Jan 15 '17 at 17:30
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    OK. Slight delay due to rotten eggs and a redo, but I just pulled these out. Will write more in an answer later but the results are in: Improperly whipped eggs were responsible for complete lack of creaminess and pudding texture. However the liquid was entirely a result of rice type and prep: Boiled basmati lots of water at bottom. Steamed basmati some water, and also the rice didn't "integrate" well into the pudding. Arborio great success, no water and nice texture. Also the saltiness was definitely connected to the watery liquid. Both basmati versions had it esp the first, arborio did not. – Jason C Jan 16 '17 at 0:06
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    That said I can confidently say now that I don't particularly like this recipe. The egg base is strange, I can taste faint egginess. It's not really the more traditional rice pudding I'm after, it has more of a "classic" pudding vibe. I would serve the arborio version to people, but probably wouldn't make it again given that there are better looking recipes out there. Smelled and looked amazing out of the oven, though. PS I let the rice dry out first, not too long, but not fresh out of the pot and steamy. – Jason C Jan 16 '17 at 0:08

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