It is called rice pudding or rice cake in English-speaking countries, although it would most likely be plain, with no fruit included. In Slovakia, it goes under the name of Ryžový nákyp, which translates as Rice Soufflé, and it always has some fruit inside.
The most popular fruits are apricots, cherries, peaches, apples or plums. They can be fresh, canned or bottled, whichever is on hand. As the small blue plum is now in season and plentiful, and I got some from my friend’s garden, I used them in my ryžový nákyp.
Rice Soufflé with Blue Plums
- 1 l milk
- 250 g round grain rice (1¼ cup)
- a pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 1 heaped tablespoon powdered sugar
- 300 g blue plums
- ground cinnamon and powdered sugar to dust
- butter for greasing the dish
- honey or syrup to drizzle
- Put the rice in a fine mesh sieve and rinse it thoroughly under running water. Transfer to a cooking pot and pour in the milk. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt, stir well and place over a medium heat. Slowly bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to let the rice simmer. Cook until it is soft and sticky, about 15 minutes, stirring quite often to prevent burning. Put aside to cool down.
- Meanwhile, grease a round baking dish (24 cm≅9.5 inch diameter) with butter. Wash the plums, cut them in halves and remove the stones. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue whisking to stiff peaks. Set aside.
- When the rice has cooled, gently stir in the egg yolks and fold in half of the egg whites (we call it ‘snow’ in Slovakia). Transfer half of the rice mixture to the prepared baking dish and level with a spatula. Distribute the plums evenly on top and cover with the other half of the rice mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top of the cake rises and turns golden brown. Take out of the oven and onto a wooden board.
- Give the other half of the beaten egg whites a few more whisks and distribute the ‘snow’ on top of the warm soufflé. Increase the oven temperature to 220°C and bake for another 3 minutes, or until the crisp, golden brown meringue forms on the top.
- Take out of the oven and let cool down, then run a butter knife around the edges of the soufflé to ease it from the dish. Dust with some cinnamon and powdered sugar and cut into wedges. Serve with a little honey or syrup drizzled over the top.
Unlike in most western cuisines, Ryžový nákyp is not considered a dessert in Slovakia. It is served as a main course, usually to children in kindergartens or primary schools, and it will always follow after a good, wholesome soup.