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When I originally created this recipe back in 2018, My friend Sarah and I had eaten 90% of it before I thought to take a recipe photo, so this baked rice pudding recipe was in desperate need of a re-shoot, and what better time to bake a coconut rice pudding than in the middle of winter, and amidst our apple feature!
This baked rice pudding recipe was born when my good friend Sarah came over for dinner/dessert (we know which one she was really here for…). I had been craving rice pudding, but she was on a strict dairy-free diet, and so I accepted the challenge: a dairy-free rice pudding! I know that, technically, I could have just swapped out the full cream milk for equal parts of really any non-dairy milk substitute, my go-to usually being almond milk. But this recipe also called for thickened cream! I can’t replace thickened cream with almond milk! Then I remembered my dad telling me (who is also dairy-free) that when he orders coffee, he gets half almond milk and half coconut milk because it tastes so much better than either by themselves, and that gave me an idea. Almond milk and coconut cream! Now I just had to find the perfect ratio! Not too bland, but not too coco-nutty, yet thick enough that it bakes into a custard-like pudding consistency and not just coming out a sloppy mess. And for future reference, for all those wanting to use my dad's almond and coconut combo, it seems that roughly a 2/3 almond milk to 1/3 coconut milk/cream ratio works like a charm! Not too bland, but not too coco-nutty.
But seriously, you wouldn’t guess that this baked rice pudding is dairy-free; it’s rich, it’s creamy, it’s all the things that a good baked rice pudding should be! So even if you’re not dairy-free (I’m definitely not), I’m telling you right now, it’s not missing it! In fact, I think the hint of coconut from the coconut cream really brings this dish up a notch! But if you’re really against baking dairy-free, I know some people out there who either despise the flavour of coconut (like my mum), which would really be a deal breaker with the recipe, or maybe you just don’t believe me and think dairy-free ANYTHING is bland. Well, either way, you can check out the notes for the full cream, pro-dairy version of the recipe.
My Top Tips for Mastering This Bake
- I’ve had people asking if 1/2 cup of arborio rice is correct, as there’s almost a litre of liquid to accompany it, and honestly, when I pulled this dairy-free rice pudding recipe out of the archives to bake today… I had the same thought, but it is correct. Trust me :) For a stove-top rice pudding, you would require much less.
- If you don’t have vanilla bean pods, you can replace it with 2tsp vanilla essence.
- If you are really adverse to using coconut cream/milk and almond milk in your baked rice pudding recipe and you don’t need it to be dairy-free, you can replace the coconut milk for equal parts thickened cream and almond milk for equal parts full cream milk. Note that if you do this, the cooking time may require adjusting, as generally recipes containing milk substitutes require a longer baking time, so if you’re using full cream milk, keep an eye on your pudding, it might be ready quite a bit earlier than the recommended baking time in this recipe.
- Don’t worry if your pudding mixture becomes aerated while whisking all your ingredients together, the bubbles won’t affect the end product at all.
- You may need to bake your rhubarb more or less than the time we’ve recommended depending on the thickness, so make sure you keep an eye on it in the oven to ensure it doesn’t turn to mush. You want it tender, but still able to hold its shape.