Czech Baked Rice Pudding with Apricots is a casserole of sweet, buttery rice scented with vanilla and cinnamon, layered with preserved apricots, and topped with dramatic-looking browned meringue peaks.
In the Czech Republic, especially in the countryside, where I grew up, it is normal to serve a sweet entrée at lunch or dinner.
You typically start with a savory soup followed by, for example, a plateful of golf-ball-size dumplings filled with strawberries (or blueberries or apricots) and sprinkled with powdered sugar, grated quark cheese and melted butter.
Other options might be baked, paper-thin crepes filled with marmalade; yeasted dough buttons swimming in a pool of crème anglaise; bread pudding layered with grated apples, raisins and cinnamon; or potato dumplings coated with ground poppy seeds and sugar, and topped with melted butter.
It’s a complete sugar overload across the board—not to mention a calorie bomb—yet mouth-watering and very satisfying, especially when you’re a kid.
Ingredients for Czech Rice Pudding with Apricots
The ingredients in this recipe are easy to find. Most are kitchen staples:
- WHITE BASMATI RICE is the best for super creamy rice pudding. It’s a long-grain rice that won’t get overcooked in the oven.
- DAIRY/NUT MILK softens up the rice into a spoonable porridge before you bake it.
- EGGS/BUTTER add richness to create a custard-like pudding.
- SUGAR for the right amount of sweetness in this fruity dessert.
- CANNED APRICOT HALVES add color and summery flavor. Using canned apricots (or plums) is the traditional Czech recipe method. Canned or preserved fruit is soft and cooks faster. Also, you can make the recipe all year round.
How To Make Baked Rice Pudding
This oven-baked rice pudding recipe actually starts on the stove. You’ll start by cooking white basmati rice in milk until it’s softened.
Then, separate three eggs. Here’s an easy step-by-step on how-to separate eggs.
Whisk the egg yolks with sugar until the mixture is light and frothy. Then add this, along with butter, cinnamon, and vanilla to the cooked rice.
Layer the flavored rice and the apricots in the baking dish, and stick into the oven.
How To Make Italian Meringue Topping
While this Czech rice pudding is certainly delicious on its own, a whipped Italian meringue [muh-RANG] topping with graceful swoops and peaks truly elevates the dish.
To make Italian meringue at home, start by making a sugar syrup. That’s simply a matter of heating sugar and water in a saucepan. While the sugar syrup cooks, beat the egg whites in a stand mixer.
When they’ve doubled in volume, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites while mixing.
Continue mixing until you have a crisp white, shiny meringue that forms stiff peaks when you lift the whisk out.
How to Serve and Store Baked Rice Pudding with Apricots and Meringue
It’s best enjoyed immediately after it comes out of the oven. However, the rice pudding also tastes great cold or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to two days.
In America, this would be considered a dessert and probably served in small portions, but I leave it up to you—there is nothing wrong with eating it the Czech way, piled on.
Can I Make Rice Pudding with Leftover Cooked rice?
This is a great way to use up leftover rice. As long as it’s plain, you can add the cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and eggs to cooked white rice and proceed wit the recipe as written.
Can I Make Dairy-Free Baked Rice Pudding?
Certainly. It’s easy to make this recipe dairy-free by using your favorite non-dairy milk. Almond, oat, coconut, or soy milk would also work.
More Sweet Bohemian Recipes
Sweet entrées are def a Czech thing. But everyone can enjoy them! Here are more entrées that are so delicious:
- Cream of Semolina With Two Toppings
- Kolache, a pastry topped with fruit and streusel.
- Fluffy Bohemian Yeasted Pancakes are a childhood favorite, topped with berry compote.
Of course, we don’t only eat sweet meals in the Czech Republic. I have plenty of traditional Bohemian recipes that are savory too, find them here.
Do you think sweet entrées are strange? Did you make this Czech baked rice pudding with apricots? What’s your favorite dessert?
Tell me in the comments.
A casserole of sweet, buttery rice scented with vanilla and cinnamon, layered with preserved apricots, and topped with dramatic-looking browned meringue peaks.
- 1 1/2 cup white basmati rice
- 3 cups dairy or nut milk
- 4 eggs
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 15-ounce cans unpeeled apricot halves, or prunes, or other fruit
- Italian meringue topping
- 1 cup sugar
- 7 ounces water
- Place the rice in a medium stockpot and rinse thoroughly under cold running water, until the starch from the rice is removed and the water runs clear.
- Add the milk to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice is soft and has absorbed the milk, about 12–15 minutes. Let stand uncovered to cool for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Using 1 tablespoon of the butter, grease the bottom and sides of a medium baking or casserole dish. (I used a round 10×2″ pie dish).
- Crack the 3 eggs and separate them in two bowls: 3 egg whites in one bowl and 3 egg yolks in another bowl. Set the egg whites aside. Add the 1 remaining whole egg to the egg yolks and beat lightly with a fork.
- Add the sugar to the egg yolks and whisk to combine.
- Add the egg yolk mixture, the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, cinnamon and vanilla extract to the rice, and stir to combine.
- Spread half of the rice mixture into the baking dish, place the apricots, cut side down, in one layer over the rice, and spread the other half of the rice mixture over the apricots.
- Smooth out the surface and bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes, until the rice on top is golden brown and the apricots start to bubble around the edges.
- 5 minutes before the rice pudding is done, create the Italian meringue topping. Combine the sugar and the water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium, and cook until the sugar has melted and small bubbles start to appear on the surface, about 3–4 minutes.
- In a bowl, start beating the 3 egg whites with an electric mixer while pouring in the sugar mixture in a slow stream. Keep beating until the mixture becomes shiny and stiff peaks form.
- Remove the rice from the oven and top with the egg white mixture, creating small peaks. Bake in the oven until the egg white peaks just start to brown, another 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue topping.
- Serve immediately. The rice pudding also tastes great cold or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to two days.