February Recipe Swap: Mary’s Rice Pie

by Shumaila

For the month of February, Christianna of the Burwell General Store chose a wild rice dressing as the recipe to be swapped.

The rules of the swap are simple. Each month Christianna sends us a recipe from a vintage cookbook, to which we have to give our own twist by changing at least three things either in the recipe’s ingredients, or technique or both.

I have never worked with wild rice before. But for this swap I found out a little about it and it turns out wild rice is actually not a member of the rice family. This article is an interesting read about wild rice.

From the moment I saw the recipe I was inspired to go the sweet way for it ( no wonder I have weight issues!). I don’t know why, but rice pudding kept haunting me. I rummaged through a few of my cookbooks and found a recipe for wild rice pudding with cranberries in Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax. It sounded great and I was so excited to try a version of rice pudding that used wild rice.

But things don’t always go as planned.

Even though I am quite sure wild rice is not available in our local grocery store, I still will admit that even if it was, it completely slipped from my mind to look for wild rice each time I visited the store. And since I was in no mood to make the trip especially for it again, I decided to try the Indian version of rice pudding called phirni- one of the few Indian desserts I love.

But there was another hiccup to my plans. I realised I did not have enough milk for it (yes this was after a grocery trip- I seriously need to look at managing pantry supplies!)

Now, Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts had a recipe for a rice pie, which Richard Sax called the best recipe in the book. I have never had or even heard of a rice pie. I was intrigued. The recipe can be successfully halved but since it was just V and me eating, I quartered the recipe. I still had more filling than required for the pie so I mixed some cardamom and cinnamon to the leftover filling and kept it on low flame for 30 min, and served it in individual bowls. It was rich, but tasty. The same holds for the rice pie.


Richard Sax calls it one the best recipes in his book Classic Home Desserts. Generally baked inaย  rectangular pan , it is a sturdy dessert that travels well. The recipe is from Mary Codola of Rhode Island, who has been baking it for her family at Easter for many years.

The taste is quite similar to custard and even though I am not a fan of custard, this wasn’t that bad actually. In fact it was pretty good. It is quite heavy though and a few spoons will fill you up! I would suggest small servings of this.

Original recipe makes one 13 by 9 inch pie, serves 12

(I have listed the original recipe)

Source: Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts


  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice ( I used basmati)
  • Pie crust (I used this recipe and added 1 tbsp sugar to it)
  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • About 2 cups ricotta cheese, drained in a cheesecloth lined colander for few hours/overnight (I used cottage cheese as I did not have any ricotta)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, or less to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon, for sprinkling


  1. Boil water with some salt in a large pot. After thoroughly washing the rice, add the rice to the boiling water, and let boil for 15 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Butter a 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Roll out the pie dough, on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle about 1.4 inch thick. Line the pan with the pie dough, being careful as to not tear the dough. Cut the edges hanging out of the dish.
  4. Line the dough with a sheet of buttered foil, buttered side down.
  5. Bake in the hot oven for about 8 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake for a further 6-8 minutes , pricking any air bubble with a fork. Bake until dough begins to turn very pale gold. Cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
  6. Combine the drained rice with 4 cups of milk and the salt. Simmer until tender, usually about 20 minutes.
  7. In a bowl beat eggs with the remaining 1 cup milk. Mix in the ricotta, sugar, cream and vanilla. Stir in the rice milk mixture and mix well. Pour into the pie shell and sprinkle the cinnamon on top.
  8. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the filling is set.
  9. Cool the pie on a wire rack to room temperature. Serve at cool room temperature. To store, cover and refrigerate but let come to room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.

Do check out what the other talented Recipe Swappers have come up this Swap: