At the beginning of this little hiccup known as Covid, panic descended on the world’s population and people stormed the supermarkets. A natural instinct, sure, although I still can’t understand the toilet roll wipe-out but that’s for another day. In the general rush of stockpiling, everyone went mad for tinned goods, just in case we needed to climb into our basements or bunkers. My mum did the same and loaded up on tins – fruit, beans, tomatoes, and interestingly, rice pudding. We will still have a sweet tooth in that bunker, after all.
A year later, I spotted those forlorn and forgotten tins of rice pudding, and decided to have some fun.
Not everyone would agree that fun is possible with rice pudding. But, I beg to differ.
Many rice pudding-phobes are viscerally reminded of school dinners and what looked like runny, lumpy mashed potato with a skin on top, which is apparently dessert, who knew. Foods with unusual textures are often the first to fall by the wayside and unfortunately for rice pudding, it’s a bit too much like a thick soup (do you chew it or gulp it?) to have a huge fanbase with children or adults with traumatic school dinner memories.
To all these unfortunate souls, I have to ask – have you tried Ambrosia?
I was brought up on tinned Ambrosia custard and rice pudding. The custard is creamy yellow and so thick it has the texture of gelato. And did I mention, it’s so delicious it’s like kryptonite? Crumbles, trifles, steamed puddings were only enhanced by Ambrosia custard; poor Bird’s with it’s jelly-like consistency didn’t stand a chance. It was an effortless way to keep me sedated, and a trick I will keep in mind for my future family, now I think about it.
Like many other children, I was wary of rice pudding. I declared I didn’t like it without needing to try it. Then I ate Ambrosia rice pudding and learnt the error of my ways. Smoother and sweeter than the lumpy concoctions at school, the rice pudding steamed gently in my bowl, adorned with that crucial blob of strawberry jam, which slowly shrinks as you scoop up a morsel with every mouthful. The word I repeatedly think of when it comes to Ambrosia rice pudding is ‘creamy’. It’s that creaminess which makes it so indulgent. After eternity in a tin, what can be in this devilish nectar that makes it taste so good?!
So, I found these lonely tins of Ambrosia rice pudding and made pancakes.
It’s not necessarily the natural thought process one has with a convenient, ready-made dessert which just needs to be microwaved to take me to my happy place, but rice pudding is famously made into fritters called frittelle di riso in Italy. And they’re not that different from a pancake, are they?
I emptied a tin of rice pudding into a bowl, added flour, baking powder and an egg and mixed it all together which felt like I was debasing the sanctity of the pudding, and if this didn’t work I was doomed (as FYI this doesn’t taste good raw). Then, I melted butter in a non-stick frying pan (definitely go for non-stick, you don’t want to spend your morning scraping these off with a brillo pad), and added a splash of oil. Once sizzling, I dolled out big tablespoons of batter and gently fried them. One or two of these golden and steaming rice pudding pancakes made it into my mouth before I could properly present them. And in fact, I just ate another as I write this (at 10:30pm).
These rice pudding pancakes are a revelation and I have to say go and make them now! They require minimal effort and inside that chewy, pancake casing, they are creamy and melt-in-the-mouth, without a rice pudding lump in sight. I piled them up like a chimney and doused them in maple syrup which they obligingly soaked up, the thoughtful pancakes that they are. Somehow, they all disappeared in a couple of minutes – they simply melted on my tongue.
Of course, you could make your own rice pudding, it’s actually effortless (be warned: what’s disguised as a recipe is just another tribute to Ambrosia. I really should charge them for my PR services). For the want of recipe testing, I have now eaten the contents of two tins of rice pudding in two days so I might take a break, but please carry on!
They will definitely be a useful addition to the Covid bunker.
Rice pudding pancakes
- 1 can of rice pudding preferably Ambrosia
- 1 egg
- 70 g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ⅓ tsp ground cinnamon optional
- Sunflower oil and butter for cooking
- In a large bowl mix together the rice pudding, egg, self-raising flour, baking powder and cinnamon (if using) until everything is well combined.
- Grease a non-stick frying pan with sunflower oil and butter. When it starts sizzling, add a large tablespoon of batter and gently fry it on very low heat. Once the upper surface of the pancake looks sealed, it is ready to flip. Cook on both sides for approximately 3-4 minutes each until evenly golden.
- Rest the pancakes on a plate lined with kitchen paper to soak up the excess grease. Serve with maple syrup, crème fraiche and fruit.
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