The recipe that I am contributing is one taught to me by my late ex mother-in-law, Katarina Zahn-Djordjevic. This is a very simple recipe that she always just referred to as a Serbian Rice Cake. Calling it a cake might be a bit of a stretch since it's just rice cooked in milk that is combined with sugar, beaten eggs and vanilla. However, you do spread it in a pan and bake it like a cake and the resulting dish is cut like a cake.
It is only mildly sweet and the only reason I ever heard for this was, "Serbs don't like it too sweet." Maybe other families made theirs differently, I don't know. Often Katarina would make this cake in the summer when it could be served with fresh mascerated strawberries. She baked at night in the basement kitchen so the heat of the stove would not compete with the air conditioning in the upstairs kitchen. By morning, the rice cake would be cold and was just perfect for a hot Chicago summer morning! It was always one of my favorite breakfasts. Of course, you can eat it anytime of the day that you like!
There is no flour in this cake and so it is gluten-free. It has been years since I've made one and even more years since I've eaten any. Some years ago I developed a severe allergy to eggs. It was pure torture to smell that thing baking knowing that I couldn't eat any!
Serbian Rice Cake
2 1/2 cups organic 1% milk
1 cup long grain white rice, rinsed
pinch of kosher salt
6 tablespoons unbleached granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 whole extra large cage free eggs, separated
Place the rice, milk and kosher salt in a 1 quart saucepan with lid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until rice is tender and all milk has been absorbed. Turn rice out into a large bowl, fluff with a fork and allow to cool completely.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a quarter sheet cake pan (approximately 9 x 13 x 2) and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Beat in sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until mixture is about double in bulk and pale yellow. Beat in vanilla extract. With a spoon or spatula, stir this mixture into the cooled rice until well blended and no clumps remain in the rice.
3. In a clean bowl with clean beaters; beat egg whites until triple in volume and stiff peaks have formed. Fold one third of the egg whites into the rice and egg yolk mixture to lighten it. Quickly and carefully fold in the remaining egg white until no white streaks remain. Take care not to stir all the air out of your whites!
4. Turn mixture out into prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula until even. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
You can serve this warm but it is really best at room temperature or cold. I like to top mine with mascerated strawberries but peaches are great too. It's soooo easy...but so good!
Look at the beautiful, airy texture of this cake.
I have to comment on the figurine in the background. This is a WWll era Hummel called "Barnyard Friends"...released in 1943 when Hummel and Goebbel figurines were still made at the same facility in Austria.
It bears the trademark seal of this period and Goebbel's signature "bird in flight" mark. It is a first edition firing...number 195. It was given to me by my late ex-mother-in-law. There is an amazing story behind how he came to survive moving, bombing raids and eventually more than 40 years in an old steamer trunk...without so much as a scratch! He belonged to Katarina's sister Raizee who never immigrated to America. When she passed away, two steamer trunks were delivered to my mother-in-law in Chicago...left to her by her late sister. He was in there...wrapped in layers of brittle paper and yellowed hand-made lace. There were the crocheted collars and cuffs from her sister's "wedding costume" as they called it. Other little trinkets and baubles were in there as well...but this guy...he was the coup de grace!
Look at the amazing details on his little face! Most of the year he stays securely behind glass in one of my china cabinets but I always take him out where he can be seen better during the fall. I guess it's just the colors on his clothing. Don't worry...there are no children around my house! He would be under lock and key if there were!
It is pretty incredible to hold something like this in your hand and know that it was in Berlin when Germany surrendered to the allies and the war was officially ended. It's amazing to think he endured blackouts and shelling and somehow, he survives...over 60 years later. His cheeks are still rosy and he hasn't a care in the world. My mother in law always said he reminded her of the childhood they should have had. When I hold this little guy in my hand, I imagine (or maybe it isn't my imagination) an odd energy that comes from him...through him. He speaks of the past, of war, of deprivation, of 40 years when he never saw the light of day, of his trip across the ocean in the cargo hold of a ship. I know he's old and valuable and I SHOULD probably have him put away...but somehow I just don't have the heart.