It's pretty simple to put together - unlike the chestnut cream truffles I spent two hours on because Mr Cake has been enjoying chestnuts lately (and which weren't nearly as well-liked as the cake) - and also reasonably cheap, thanks to the lack of butter.
The base is essentially rice pudding - arborio rice, and milk, cooked for a while - but don't leave your milk unattended while you wrap birthday presents, as it is milk and it will burn badly and be a nightmare to get off the saucepan. ;-) Anyone got any tips for that?
A fringe benefit of the rice pudding base is that there is no flour required, so this cake is completely gluten free, in case that's a dietary requirement for you and yours.
Once the rice is pudding like (assuming you can resist eating it in that state!) you add a little bit of almond meal, lemon zest, sugar, and egg yolks. You want to be gentle with this mixture so the rice doesn't get too smushed - just gently work the yolk through until it looks custardy and loosens up a bit. Yum!
The egg whites get beaten up to make the cake less dense - then you fold them through the ricey stuff and that's it. Because there's no fat in the cake you do need to make sure your tin is very well greased - I used almond meal to make a bit of a crust (the original recipe recommended panko crumbs), though I think it would be better without this, so long as you slather on the butter.
It's really not a pretty cake at all - in fact I think it's pretty hideous - so you'll definitely want to gussy it up a little. Icing sugar sprinkled over top works wonderfully, and if you wanted a really warming, wintery flavour you could mix a little cinnamon and/or nutmeg in... Or you could drip delicious custard over the top, to make it more pudding-y.
We had ours with some of that delicious Piako yoghurt and it was great - Mr Cake definitely loved it! Me, I'd rather have something with a whole lot of chocolate and butter on my birthday. ;-) Which way would you go?
Rice Pudding Cake (adapted from Cafe Lynnylu)
Butter and almond meal to coat a 22cm springform cake pan
2 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup arborio rice
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup ground almonds
zest of 1 lemon
4 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
Warm the milk, rice and salt over medium heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the milk (but before it is sticky). Transfer to a bowl and add ground almonds and lemon zest. Lightly beat the egg yolks with the sugar then add to the rice, folding through gently.
Preheat oven to 160 C. Generously brush the springform pan with butter, and if desired sprinkle with almond meal, rotating the pan to coat the inside all over. Shake out any excess.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the rice mixture. Pour into prepared springform pan and bake 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Let stand for 10-20 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely. Sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.