Baked Rice Pudding (Riz au lait) with plum compote
6 servings
This recipe is open to lots of variations. Instead of the vanilla, you could flavor the rice pudding with a cinnamon stick or two, a dusting of nutmeg, some orange zest, or maybe a dash of orange flower water with a few cardamom seeds. A handful of raisins or dried cranberries (or cherries) would also be a nice addition, added right at the startI used round rice, which is also known as short-grain rice in the U.S., and is available in most supermarkets and grocery stores. Arborio or bomba rice could be used.For those avoiding alcohol, in lieu of the wine, use water or apple juice, to help create extra sauce with the plums. The sugar can be replaced with 2 tablespoons of honey and, like the vanilla bean in the rice pudding, a cinnamon stick or spices (such as star anise or allspice) can replace the vanilla.The compote is even better the next day, when the juices have had time to thicken, so feel free to make it in advance. It can be served at room temperature or warm.
For the rice pudding
1/2 cup (105g) round rice, such as short-grain rice
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise with seeds scraped out
4 cups (1l) whole milk
2 tablespoons (30g) butter, salted or unsalted, cubed
For the plum compote
1 1/2 pounds (700g) prune plums
1/3 cup (80ml) white wine (see headnote)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise with seeds scraped out
1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF (160ºC).
2. In a 2-quart baking dish, or larger, with high sides, mix the rice, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean & seeds. Pour in the milk. Mix it with the other ingredients, then strew the bits of butter over the top.
3. Place the dish of rice in the oven, stirring the rice every 10 to 15 minutes, being sure the scrape the bottom of the baking dish to avoid any grains of rice sticking there. Don’t worry if the top starts to brown; simply stir that in*.
4. While the rice pudding is baking, make the compote by slicing the plums in half and removing the pits. Lay them cut side down in a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Pour the wine over the plums, sprinkle them with sugar, and tuck the vanilla bean between some of the plums, so it’s mostly submerged in liquid. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake until the plums are soft and cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the plums.
5. Bake the rice for 1 hour and 45 minutes, stirring as directed. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes, to thicken, stirring occasionally. The rice will seem very liquidly, but will thicken up as it stands. (See note, below.)

Serving: Serve the rice either warm, at room temperature, or chilled with fruit compote. If plums aren’t in season, it’s lovely served with Salted Butter Caramel Sauce, poached pears, sliced fruit, or even a dollop of your favorite jam.

*(There may be bits of browned topping mixed into the rice pudding, which I don’t mind.)

Checking for Doneness: Baking this rice pudding requires a bit of a “leap of faith,” since it’ll still be quite liquidy when it comes out of the oven. I did a little video of it here, of how the rice pudding looks when it’s best to remove it from the oven. If for some reason it’s still too milky when cooled, you can cook it in a saucepan over low heat, stirring it frequently, until it’s the texture you’d like it to be.

Notes: I haven’t tried this with nut milk or other types of milk (including coconut or oatmeal), but it should work. Since there are no eggs, it’s quite possible to make it a non-dairy dessert. If you do try it with an alternative milk, feel free to share how it works out in the comments.