The city of Carrara, in the northern part of Tuscany, was already famous in Roman times because of the impeccably white marble that could be excavated in its quarries. Along with the municipality of Massa, Carrara gives its name to a lovely province that borders both with Liguria and Emilia-Romagna – and gives its name also to this delicious tart.
Working the marble quarries around Carrara has always been a very dangerous and strenuous job – this simple tart with a very thin rice base was a caloric but inexpensive meal to sustain the workers during their long days at the quarries.
Serves: 4 | Preparation time: 20 mins | Cooking time: 1 h
- White or brown sugar: 250 g
- Short-grain white rice: 120 g
- Milk: 500 ml
- Rum or Marsala wine or anise-flavored liqueur: 45 ml
- (optional) Vanilla extract: 2 ml
- Eggs: 6
- Lemon zest: of 1 lemon
- Butter, unsalted: to taste
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Boil the rice in unsalted water for about 8-10 minutes, then drain it and place it in a ceramic bowl or on a plate and leave it to cool down completely.
Use a knob of butter to lightly grease the inside of a baking tin with high edges. Put the rice inside the pan and use your fingers to press it down; make sure to cover the bottom of the pan with an even layer of rice, as the rice will form the basis of the cake.
Pour the milk in a saucepan and add the lemon zest; bring the milk to a boil, then leave it to cool.
Beat up the eggs in a bowl and add the sugar, the rum and the vanilla extract; mix thoroughly, then keep whisking as you slowly add the cold milk.
Tip: You must be careful to add the milk only when it is cold, or at most lukewarm. If the milk is too hot, it will cook the eggs!
Delicately pour the mixture in the springform pan, on top of the rice.
Tip: Don’t worry if the mixture looks ‘too liquid’: that’s exactly the way it should look.
Bake to 170°C for 1 hour or until cooked through. You will know when the cake is completely cooked because the top will solidify into a lightly coloured crust. You can also prick the cake with a toothpick: if the toothpick comes out dry, the cake is ready.
Allow for the cake to cool down before opening the springform pan and serving it.