Matt Wilkinson’s Pope Joan will close this weekend after eight successful years. The cafe is known for its breakfasts with a fine-dining flourish.

If you won’t make it to Brunswick East to say goodbye, you can recreate some of the experience at home with Wilkinson’s recipe for creamy rice pudding with stewed strawberries.

For best results, begin this recipe the day before.

Rice Pudding With Strawberries
Serves 6


Stewed Strawberries
200g fresh or frozen strawberries
110g (½ cup) caster sugar
1 lemon, juiced

Rice Pudding
75g (1/3 cup) arborio rice
½ vanilla bean (seeds only)
500ml (2 cups) milk
100g caster sugar
1 gold-strength gelatine leaf, softened in cold water, then squeezed
250ml (1 cup) double cream, gently whipped to soft peaks

For the stewed strawberries, mix all ingredients together and marinate overnight in the fridge. The next morning, cook for 10 minutes on medium heat until the strawberries break down. Set aside.

For the rice pudding, place the rice and 1L (4 cups) of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then strain.

Pour the strained rice back into the pan. Add the vanilla seeds and milk, then cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked or all the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and gelatine until dissolved. Pour into a tray and refrigerate until set.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Using a spatula, fold the whipped cream through the set rice mixture, then pour into a serving dish and place back in the fridge to firm up (around 30 minutes).

Spoon over some of the stewed strawberries and serve.

Pope Joan’s final service will be on Sunday June 24.