Rice Pie

Rice Pie

Rice Pie 1952 2388 Daryl Duarte

Rice Pie

This Italian pastry is old-fashioned, rustic, and delightfully perfect.  My Nonni (Great Grandmother), Nana, and mother made rice pies.  There is a battle royal at Easter - between the “wheat pie” mob and the “rice pie” gang - regarding which is best.  Folklore whispers that northern Italians used wheat - southern Italians used rice - I don’t know if that is true. I do know that this guy from Rhode Island stands by rice. Italian pastry tends to be a bit less sweet.  Rice Pie fits that description. Creamy, mild, with a hint of cinnamon - it is just fantastic and brings back many lovely memories.   My father tells me that my great-grandmother made 12 at a time and would give them away.  I hear tales of people getting together to make their Easter Pies - wheat or rice - as an annual and fun tradition.  A bit of powdered sugar fairy dusting - and serve with some hot coffee.   Yes, that is how we did it!



  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • ½ cup white rice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ lb. ricotta
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon


  • It is best to cook the rice first so that when the crust is ready, your rice will be cool enough to combine with the remaining filling ingredients.

Cooking the rice

  • I prefer to use short-grained white rice.  Rinse it thoroughly to remove excess starch.  Then combine the rice, water, salt, and milk in a heavy bottom 2-quart pan and bring to a simmer (oversee this - it tends to boil over.) Once it is simmering, cover it with a lid, lower the temperature to the stovetop’s lowest setting, and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes to keep the rice from sticking (which also helps prevent the milk from foaming and boiling over the side of the pot). Set aside to cool a bit.   
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees once the rice is done.

Making the crust

  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix the dry ingredients.   Cube the cold butter and toss it into the flour mixture, coating each piece.  Then, pulse again until the butter is integrated into the flour mixture.  In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg with a whisk, add the beaten egg into the bowl of the food processor, and run continuously until well mixed.   The pastry dough will stay relatively grainy.
  • Pour the dough into an ungreased 10 x 2-inch round cake pan, a 10-inch round springform pan, or a 10-inch pie pan - baker’s choice.  Use your fingers to press the dough evenly across the bottom and push enough dough to the edges to form a 1-inch side crust.  Using the flat bottom of a measuring cup to press against the gathered dough to force it up the sides is easiest.  You can also do this using your fingers.  This process takes some patience.  The warmth of your hands will make the dough increasingly pliable.   This is a rustic tart and does not need to be perfect.   Set aside in the refrigerator until you are ready to add the filling.

Assemble the filling

  • In a large mixing bowl, beat three eggs with ½ lb. of ricotta and the sugar.   Then, mix the rice mixture, cinnamon, and lemon juice to combine all ingredients evenly.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until firm and set - for about 50 minutes. Check with a cake tester. Be careful not to overcook.
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